I used to love PC gaming. Unreal Tournament ’99? Counter-Strike? Those were my jams, son. For years, I’d raged about how console controllers could never replicate the precision needed for PC shooters. Then I traded my PC for a Mac and joined all my “regular people” friends on Xbox Live.
Nowadays, I’m much happier in my gated community. Still, part of me yearns for the lightning-quick madness of mouse-and-keyboard controls. I just want to spin on a dime and put a single sniper round through some fool’s eyeball one last time.
That’s where Penguin United’s Eagle Eye Converter 3.0 comes in. Basically, this device claims to let console players hook up their mouse and keyboards to their Xbox 360.
Sounds great in theory, but does it actually work?
The Big Idea:
The Eagle Eye claims to provide tighter, more accurate controls akin to what you’d experience on the PC. Granted, being the only person in a game that has this enhancement sure sounds like cheating to me, but I’m not opposed to a bit of good natured rule-bendin’. Ain’t like I’ve never “soft-Googled” a Scrabble word or two in my time, so let’s keep an open mind here.
What’s in the Box?
Inside the $60 package you’ll find the Eagle Eye Converter–a small control box that serves as a bridge between the Xbox and your mouse and keyboard. You can preprogram up to two different button configurations at a time. So if you play Modern Warfare 3 and Battlefield 3, you can instantly swap between your two custom layouts with a flick of the switch.
There are a bunch of turbo switches, too, if you’re the sort of person that needs to have artificially enhanced super-rapid-fire pistols. Cheater. The turbo switches work just fine, so if you want to skip right past “rule bending” and straight-up ruin everyone else’s experience, here’s your chance.
A Very Questionable Definition of “Easy”
Unfortunately, using the Eagle Eye isn’t as dirt simple as its “Ownage Never Comes Easier” (Eww.) tagline makes it seem. The device needs to jump through quite a few hoops before it can trick your 360 into accepting a mouse and keyboard.
First, be aware that you need the official wired Microsoft controller. The Eagle Eye won’t work with the official Microsoft wireless pad or any third-party controller.
Second, you need a Windows PC to run the Eagle Edit key mapping software. The application isn’t compatible with Apple, so Mac users are out of luck—or they’ll just need to lug the thing to their workplace PC, like I did. For a device whose target consumer has potentially traded his or her gaming PC for a Macbook, and is now taking extraordinary measures to replicate the PC gaming experience, this seems like a massive oversight.
One-Time Initial Set Up:
There’s no denying it: For the console crowd, this is a complicated device. And by “complicated,” I mean “prepare to sit with the instructional manual in your lap.”
Here is the first-time setup process from beginning to end:
- After you’ve installed the Eagle Edit software, plug the Eagle Eye box into your PC’s USB slot.
- Then, attach your intended mouse and keyboard to the Eagle Eye. So far, the device has worked with every mouse and keyboard combo I’ve had lying around, so it’s fairly versatile.
- Next, map your buttons to whatever keys you’d like. There are also a bunch of “axis dead zone” and “sensitivity” options. These can be pretty tricky, so you’ll probably be better off downloading an existing configuration from Penguin United’s Calibration database.
- After you recheck your controls, you can save them right to the Eagle Eye box.
Congratulations, you are now done with the one-time-only initial set up. It’s smooth sailing from here, right? Nope! Get ready for a big sloppy bucket of tedium.
The following is what you need to do every single time you want to use this thing:
Turn on your Xbox and connect the completely empty Eagle Eye device to your Xbox 360.
Plug your wired controller to the port in either the mouse or keyboard USB slots on the Eagle Eye box. Wait for the Xbox 360 to register the controller.
Now, remove the controller from the Eagle Eye and connect your mouse and keyboard. You should now be able to navigate the dashboard.
We are not finished yet.
Start up a game. Your keyboard should be working perfectly, but chances are the mouse is jerking around and moving rather slowly… so reach for that instruction manual, because it’s time to adjust for your mouse’s individual dead zones and sensitivity!
Using the keyboard’s function keys and scroll wheel, slowly tweak your controls until you’re able to aim a bit smoother and faster. Just keep experimenting. To help you pass the time, scream obscenities at the device.
Finally, once you make some progress, press the F6 key to save your settings to the Eagle Eye Converter.
Technically, saving that painstaking calibration should mean that you won’t need to do this again, but the odds of your mouse working perfectly are pretty slim. From my experience, after messing with these advanced controls, I was eventually able to get a modicum of smoothness, but it would still jerk and freeze up while I was turning, causing me to catch a lot of bullets with my face.
Ownage Never Comes
During my time with the Eagle Eye Converter 3.0, I gave it a go in Call of Duty and Brink. I was definitely able to line up some specific shots that normally wouldn’t be possible. In the center area of the screen, the mouse control certainly gives you an advantage. Outside of that sweet spot though, it’s a different story. If you need to quickly spin to face an enemy, you’re already dead. I’m not an expert, but I don’t really think that’s an accurate definition of “ownage.”
Let’s not even get into the beating I took in Serious Sam.
Is This Thing Worth It?
Penguin United was nice enough to send us a review sample, but frankly this just isn’t a very good device. Even if there is some aspect of set-up that I’m missing, that’s beside the point. I’m reasonably tech-savvy. If I’m getting confused, chances are that other people will be confused too. The Eagle Eye is a good idea, but I wouldn’t buy one myself. It has all the warm user-friendliness of a Cinco product.
I’ll give Peguin United this, though: The keyboard component does work pretty well for Street Fighter IV. So if you wanted a cost effective way to turn your keyboard into a homemade HitBox, well, here you go.
Real Talk: If you’re a console player looking for a little bit of a competitive edge, I recommend that you buy a set of KontrolFreeks. They’re only ten bucks and greatly increase your accuracy and control with a gamepad. After a week or two of use, I couldn’t imagine playing without them. I still may not be an “OWNAGE” expert, but they have definitely helped me step up my game.