Review by Thomas Cap
Some among you will maybe hate me a little for this article. I’m about to review and hence more or less also promote a product that some of you will condemn as unfair, deceitful and even fraudulent. Even worse I will tell you that I enjoyed using the product and that I plan to continue using it in the future as well and some of you will call me a cheater because of that. Am I exaggerating? Sure thing but read on and decide for yourself...
Some of you might already know the SmartJoy franchise distributed by Asia’s largest online video game store Lik Sang. Just in case you don’t: put as simply as possible, the SmartJoy adaptors allow usage of controllers on systems they weren’t built for. Many people want to use their Xbox, PSone or PS2 gamepads with their PC and SmartJoy products provide them with an easy and affordable solution.
The basic idea remains the same in their newest product but this time round your console will be the one to be fed with input it wasn’t built for. Input coming from a standard PC mouse and keyboard.
The SmartJoy FRAG itself is currently available for both Sony’s PlayStation 2 and Microsoft’s Xbox. The PS2 version fits nicely into the controller port of every standard PS2 but is a little too bulky for the newer, smaller version - not really surprising since the developers couldn’t know about the new specs when designing the adaptor – but don’t worry it will work none the less. Still I suggest using an extension cable.
The Xbox version on the other hand is already attached to a cable that you plug into a free controller port. The cable is even equipped with the same inline release mechanism that the normal Xbox controllers feature. Furthermore the Xbox version features an additional plug for use with your Xbox Live! Headset. They thought of (almost) everything, didn’t they? Yet again I suggest getting an extension cable.
From this point on the hardware for both, PS2 and Xbox, works pretty much the same. You plug a mouse and keyboard of your choice into the two PS/2 (the PC technology, not the console this time) ports and off you go. Since the button and joystick controls are now reassigned to your keyboard and mouse you better start getting used to the layout or remap them yourself. In most cases one of the eight pre-programmed control schemes will do just fine though. By means of pressing the F1 to F8 key the Xbox version loads layouts for Halo, Medal of Honor: Frontline, The Chronicles of Riddick, Counter Strike, James Bond 007: Nightfire, Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six 3, Return to Castle Wolfenstein or Unreal Championship. The PS2 version on the other hand features SOCOM II: US Navy SEALs, Medal of Honor: Frontline, Time Splitters 2, James Bond 007: Nightfire, Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six 3, Ghost Recon: Jungle Storm, Return to Castle Wolfenstein and REZ. You can overwrite these presets with personal configurations of your choice at any time. Don’t fear for the standard presets though – you can always restore the factory defaults again.
Useful Accessory or evil cheat tool?
Finally the most important question of them all: does it work? You bet it does. I had a great time playing Halo and after some modifications to the control scheme (because of the new dual weapon system in the sequel) Halo 2 was a true revelation when I started it up the first time a few days ago. Quick turns, high distance sharp shooting – time to take on Legendary I dare say...
First person shooters may be the SmartJoy FRAG’s strong point but also other games work just fine. Various Jump’n’Runs and RPGs like Fable worked but I still prefer playing them with a normal controller. Other games, including racing games like Outrun 2 worked like a charm but I really can’t tell any major advantage or disadvantage of using the adaptor there.
There is only one real problem one might have with the SmartJoy FRAG. A well balanced console game is built for use with a gamepad and not a keyboard and mouse. The accuracy and speed of the later is alien to those games and hence certain games and obviously especially first-person-shooters get awfully easy and will be less fun to play. But this is something every gamer has to decide for himself. Problems may arise when we take this online. For the console there is no way of telling the difference between a SmartJoy FRAG and a normal gamepad so there will be people who will try to gain an advantage in online battles. I played a few rounds of Halo against a colleague who is a real gamepad acrobat and never ever played a shooter on anything but a console. After a few sessions it was clear that while my stats greatly improved while using the SmartJoy FRAG it still wasn’t enough. Hence my strictly personal opinion: I don’t think that the SmartJoy FRAG gives its users a terrible advantage over everyone else. But only time will tell whether this theory of mine is correct.
The SmartJoy FRAG is a real treat for all those who are used to playing with keyboard and mouse. It helps all this unfortunate PC gamers who are dying to play some Halo or SOCOM but don’t feel comfortable with the gamepad. Hong Kong based Lik-Sang is the world wide distributor of the SmartJoy FRAG so while you can ask for it in your local store you might as well order it directly with them.
SmartJoy FRAG for Xbox
SmartJoy FRAG for PS2