Summary: Pongky takes the Wolf King Warrior FPS-friendly gaming pad for a spin. Featuring 55 available keys and killer looks to boot, does it have what it takes to be the self-proclaimed "ultimate" gaming pad? Read on to find out!
Crazy about first-person shooters and ever wanted to have some hardware to set yourself apart from other gamers? Enter the visually-striking 55-key gaming mini-keyboard from Wolf King. Honestly, it was hard to fully describe the product at first. It is not a fully customizable gaming keyboard such as the EZBoard nor is it a glorified numpad, and it is not a stand-alone keyboard either, having a subset of only 55 keys. Well then, what is it exactly? The box does a good job of stating that it’s “The Ultimate FPS Gaming Pad”. But marketing speech aside, it’s more like an FPS-enhancing gaming USB keypad. Whatever it is, at first glance it is very eye-catching and original. It takes a second look and try to find out what it is and how it works. Upon closer inspection, it becomes clearly evident that the Wolf King Warrior is an FPS gamer’s “weapon”.
The Wolf King Warrior can be had for $34.99 plus shipping at Newegg.com, so it is not a cheap piece of hardware by any means. Other keyboard and mice setups can be had for that price after rebates, even wireless ones.
With a full 0-10 number key set and the F1-F12 keys arrayed around the top edge, the Wolf King Warrior definitely looks to cover all you would need to access on a full-sized keyboard – at least, when playing an FPS game. The only problem is when you are typing messages, you still need to move your hands over to the main keyboard array – costing you precious seconds if you are in the middle of a heated battle.
We used the keypad in a left-hand orientation, with the right hand to do the mousing. So, when we mention “pinky” and “thumb” we mean the left and right area of the unit, respectively.
Setup was simple, the unit did not even come with a driver CD. So we plugged it into an open USB port, and Windows XP immediately recognized the new USB device. The red power indicator light is nice and bright, setting it apart from other devices that now use blue and green.
The WASD cluster
After getting accustomed to the new layout (keep in mind that it was extremely hard to do so, as we were so used to the standard keyboard layout for years) it became tolerable and we became more proficient at the game, thinking less and less of where the keys were and more about the game at hand. The gamer’s brain must be slightly untrained to accept he new protocol. Once instinct took over, the frag counts piled up as normal.
Once we settled into our new routine, and re-assigning keys to make sense on the new key cluster, we didn’t really feel anything different, nor did we perform better in our FPS’s. We just ended up feeling that this was just another keyboard that wants to be different, but ultimately does not help the gamer play better. It is probably more of a psychological effect that may make the gamer think he is playing better. Much like an athlete who just bought a $200 pair of sneakers.
One major drawback is evident when trying to type a message to your server mates. Gamers have to peel their eyes away from the Warrior, move their fingers to the main full-size keyboard, type their message, press ENTER (the enter button is missing from the Warrior) and then re-plant their fingers on the Warrior’s WASD keys. Again, this will feel very unnatural.
This means, of course, that gamers will need the extra tabletop real estate to accommodate the Warrior in addition to the mousepad and the main keyboard. Forget about those under-desk keyboard sliding trays, as that will only usually fit just a keyboard and medium-sized mousepad. This is another drawback for gamers with small desks or those who want the uncluttered look.
What the Warrior really needs is some plastic “stubs” that protrude from the four primary WASD keys, so during the heat of battle, if the gamer loses their placement, they can re-set their fingers properly without having to look down on the keyboard. These stub indicators can be felt on the “J” and “F” keys of full-size keyboards.
Another big problem is the location of the tilde (~) key, which is rather large and is placed on the bottom left corner near the oft-used Ctrl keys. Many a time we tried to press Ctrl, when the tilde key gets pressed – and the console window pops down, effectively taking us out of the fight. A wise gamer would be wise to un-assign the tilde key to the console window unless he has very nimble and cooperative fingers.
The K button seems a tad misplaced, next to the number Zero in the same arc as the number keys. We wonder why the K was jammed there, instead of making the Tab larger – which would have been a more useful feature. The number keys were arrayed logically, and it was easy to find and press the specific number we needed without too much hassle.
In the end, we don’t believe the effort and the initial aggravation of learning this new layout is worth the outcome (which doesn’t really help improve performance and enjoyment) - and this comes from a guy who has been playing games and FPSs since the mid 80’s. In short, the difference, if any – is minimal.
SIDEBAR: The Wolf King Warrior box art shows a soldier with a wolf’s head, but the exposed finger on the M-16 is definitely a human index finger.
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