Gaming input peripherals have a habit of looking like they have been designed by a teenager after one too many alcopops, and the Zalman FG100 is no exception.
Although given the soubriquet of FPSGUN, we would venture that it looks more like the amputated foot of a robot than any gun we’ve ever seen.
It truly is bizarre to look at, and the strangeness continues as you get to grips with using it.
Literally getting to grips in this case, as you have to grasp the rear part of the FPSGUN as if it were a joystick while the mouse buttons get transposed to beneath and in front of your index finger and the scroll wheel ending up side-mounted for thumb usage.
Of course, being aimed at the teen game player market this wheel is illuminated in blue, or purple and sometimes red. At first we couldn’t figure out what was going on with the different colours but all became clear as we discovered it was dependant upon the sensitivity setting we had configured.
We found the glow rather distracting during gameplay it has to be said, and would prefer such pointless design cues are omitted on what is meant to be a serious bit of gaming kit.
There is no denying that, when compared to a standard keyboard and mouse combo on a PC, the FPSGUN brings a certain visceral edge to the gaming experience. When you need to fire you don’t feel like you are pressing a mouse button, you feel like you are pulling a trigger and that is really rather satisfying.
The super fast 1ms response with a 1000Hz polling rate, that adjustable on-the-fly sensitivity right up to a cool 2000dpi, a total of five programmable buttons and even the gold plated USB connectors and Teflon coated quiet feet all show real attention to detail.
Indeed, if you can live with the design, and get to grips with the button placements which we found a tad clumsy for our big fat middle-aged hands, then the FPSGUN isn’t actually bad at what it does but what it does is pretty limited. The horizontal control is superbly crisp and precise, way more so than a standard PC mouse, courtesy of the forward optical sensor placement.
Unfortunately, the Yin Yang effect quickly kicks in and you discover the same sensor placement makes for less than precise vertical control. This, coupled to the quirky design, really does rule it out as anything other than a FPS game controller.
Try using it to navigate around your desktop, browse the Web or God forbid a touch of graphic design work and you will soon discover the true meaning of frustration.
Truth be told, the lack of vertical precision means that it is best suited to particular first person shooter games, namely those which fall into the "tactical" genre where headshots are the order of the day.
Speedy and precise horizontal control comes into its own here, and so does the FPSGUN. But that’s a pretty precise niche group of users to target a peripheral at don’t you think? You can change the vertical sensitivity using the supplied software but it is far from intuitive and far from ideal.
Our biggest gripe is also our smallest: the FPSGUN is just too small for most adult hands which leads to it becoming uncomfortable with prolonged use. As responsible types we really do have to worry about the potential for strain type injuries as a result