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
You’ve heard of soldiers in movies repeating the mantra “I’m nothing without my rifle”, well FPS-ers are nothing without the WASD keys and the suppporting keys sorrounding these four keys. This is what Wolf King tried to accomplish with the Warrior, to have all the supporting keys readily available to enhance the FPS-gaming experience.
The large oval buttons marked “B” and “O” were inked in the manual to be programmed for “buy” and “option” screens – such as those in Counter-Strike at the beginning in each round. Of course, it is a free country, and you can just as easily assign them to other functions, not necessarily beginning with the letters B or O. How exciting!
Oddly enough there are two adjacent CTRL keys on the left near the pinky, one larger than the other. The Tab and Shift feel so odd when placed adjacent to each other (on full-size keyboards, you have the Caps Lock to separate these). The Ctrl, Shift and Tab buttons feel too small to be fully useful, and the Alt is located away from the main cluster on the bottom left, requiring you to look down to locate it.
There are elongated Z, X and C keys under the WASD array, and the thumb rests comfortably on a vertical space button. The ENTER key is nowhere to be found, nor is the BACKSPACE. Gamers have to re-assign those to other available keys found on the Warrior, which is fortunately in abundance.
Useful additions to the unit can be found on the left outside the arc of the Function keys. These three chrome buttons are distinct in shape and color from the rest of the keys. The top one is the ESC key while the two below are reserved for volume control.
Another drawback to many gamers would be its size. This reviewer had particularly small hands (he wears an adult S glove for a snug fit), and we found it hard to navigate the buttons assigned for the pinky to press, such as Tab, Shift, Ctrl and Z. Gamers with even medium hands may find it even harder to maneuver nimbly around these buttons. We often pressed the tilde (~) when we were looking to crouch with the Ctrl key.