Razer, a company that makes all sorts of crazy game-logo-festooned computer peripherals, was kind enough to send over a minor trove of StarCraft II kit to evaluate. More, in fact, than we asked for, including an official StarCraft II Zerg Edition Messenger Bag. We were more interested in the Razer Starcraft II Spectre Gaming Mouse.
Razer Starcraft II Spectre Gaming Mouse: Mouse on a Wire
The Razer Spectre Mouse, modelled after the Terran faction in the game, is pretty much jam-packed with programmable StarCraft II-specific features. At $79 (about £50), it's not the most expensive mouse money can buy, but then it's not your average chain-store standby either. (It can be obtained in the UK, but import prices are currently pretty crazy - over £4,000 seems the standard.)
Right away you'll notice the Razer Starcraft II Spectre Gaming Mouse isn't wireless and probably wonder why not - that's now almost compulsory for high-end gaming mice. And then I noticed that the Spectre wields a 5600dpi (dots per inch) 3.5G laser sensor, offering what Razer calls its "ultrapolling" (1000Hz with 1ms response) technology. So is wireless too slow to keep up?
Not at all, it turns out. I poked around Razer's site and found a $129 (about £80) Mamba mouse that's wireless and uses similar "ultrapolling" technology. In fact, Razer calls the Mamba's wireless "gaming grade" (whatever that means), so we're not sure why they didn't offer it on the Razer Starcraft II Spectre Gaming Mouse, given the enthusiast demographic it's marketed to.
I've been using a cheap wireless Logitech travel mouse for the past year or so. Moving a mouse around with a cable protruding north of the two buttons and scroll wheel felt a little weird at first.
And then it didn't. Consider it an acclimatisation curve that passes once you've used it for an hour or so. The tradeoff's that the battery-free Razer Starcraft II Spectre Gaming Mouse feels considerably lighter without sacrificing high quality heft and a solid center of gravity. The black and silver plastic pieces composing its body have a non-glossy matt finish that's smooth but not slick to the touch, making it easy to grip and reducing slippage if your fingers perspire under duress.
The Razer Starcraft II Spectre Gaming Mouse's "fingertip grip" frame also tapers slightly from front to back, offering comfortable click-width for anyone with average-sized and slender-fingered hands.
The cable itself comes sheathed in a braided mesh that feels more durable than the usual rubber cord casing. It takes a bit longer to work out the kinks (from bunching in the box) but it's less likely to tear or snap if someone pulls (or trips) on it accidentally.
Razer Starcraft II Spectre Gaming Mouse: As You Like It
The Razer Starcraft II Spectre Gaming Mouse offers five buttons to program: the usual two up top, a forward/backward pair situated on the left side, and the depressible, virtually noiseless scrollwheel.
The mouse ships without a driver disc and - tested with the 64bit version of Windows 7 Home - offers instant plug-and-play functionality, but you'll want to download the official StarCraft II driver from Razer's website (both Mac and PC versions are offered). It's about 22MB and includes the configuration utility. (Yes, we've officially arrived at the point where setting up a new peripheral is at least a two-stage, mandatory online process.)
That utility sports the same angular electric blue sci-fi style associated with the Terran faction in the game, and serves as a one-size-fits-all panel for Razer's additional StarCraft II peripherals. The Spectre section lets you change up the five button functions or what scrolling the wheel triggers, then save your choices to profiles.
You can disable the Razer Starcraft II Spectre Gaming Mouse's scrollwheel entirely, set buttons to auto-double-click, map single keys, and so on. If you're a tournament player, you're probably already wed to StarCraft II's 'grid' keyboard profile, but if you could use a button that double-click "selects all" units of a type or shift-clicks to queue movement, the Spectre has you covered.
If you'd like to craft macros, there's a tab for that as well, including options to "insert delay" between specific actions. Want to swap macros on the fly? You can do that too by assigning different macro profiles to the Spectre's buttons in the "assign buttons" panel.
For those who never feel quite at home with a mouse's "click" actuation, a three-stage button on the underside of the Razer Starcraft II Spectre Gaming Mouse lets you change the force required to depress the left-click button. Set it high and you'll have to push harder, or low, and it'll respond more like a button you can tap than click. Razer obviously wanted to make the Spectre as ergonomically satisfying as it is functionally. How many mice let you fiddle the actuation? The Spectre's the first to cross our radar.
Next page: Performance settings, Actions per Minute, what's missing and our expert verdict >>