Having used and been absolutely frustrated by previous Mad Catz-designed peripherals for my PlayStation 2, I was a bit leery of their foray into the category of “Gaming Mice.” The level of exacting quality required by PC gamers to justify spending more than $70 on a mouse was something that had eluded Mad Catz, in my opinion, in their previous products. So, when the new Cyborg R.A.T. line of mice appeared, I was dubious even though the design of it appealed to me.
Now, having used the R.A.T.7 for about a week, I’m changing my tune.
The build quality is very high, with a solid steel under-chassis that gives the mouse a weighty feel in your hand, and resists the occasional bit of torque or quick twist that you can sometimes exert on a mouse in the middle of a fast-and-furious gaming session.
On the higher-end of the R.A.T. line, the physical configuration of the mouse is fully customizable. You can swap out various finger- and palm-rests with different shapes and textures, as well add or remove small weights from the mouse to customize the weight of it in your hand. You can swivel the thumb rest in or out, and can adjust how far forward or back the thumb rest is. The tool used to make all these adjustments screws into the tail of the mouse itself, so it’s always handy and you’re never digging through your desk drawer when you need to make a tweak.
The standard mouse features are here: 5 buttons, scroll wheel and more. The mouse will work out of the box as your basic mouse, but the real power comes when you install the accompanying software. You can then remap various buttons, including the ingenious “Thumb Scroll” wheel as well as activating the “Mode” button, which will change the function of the other buttons when you press it. So, the upshot of all this is that the mouse’s five buttons can effectively become a total of 15 when you fully customize and program it.
You also can adjust the DPI sensitivity of the mouse up or down on the go, at the touch of another button. Yet another nice addition is the “Sniper” button; it’s a small button that will, when you hold it down, drop the mouse’s sensitivity so you have a much finer control over movement. This works wonders for your aiming when you are playing an FPS and need that super-fine control over your shots. With the accompanying software, you can also program just how far the sensitivity drops, as well as customizing all four of the regular DPI levels. In a bit of thoughtful design, the Sniper button is on the thumb side, where using it will not interfere with using the main mouse buttons.
As for visual design, I love it. The combination of function and high-tech form is perfect. It looks like something that Major Kusanagi would use in the phenomenal Ghost in the Shell series, and a friend of mine recently commented that it looks like a mouse-version of the Tumbler from the recent Batman movies.
However, there are detractors: Dave Freeman of CrunchGear initially called it the “ugliest mouse known to man,” back in January (though he did admit shortly afterwards that he was changing his mind), and a recent visitor to my apartment was intimidated by it. The design of the R.A.T. line seems to be one of those love-it-or-hate-it things.
After a week, I can’t say anything bad about this one. The build quality is very high, and the featureset is impressive. The customizable sizing of the high-end models is a welcome change of pace from the one-size-fits-all mindset of many manufacturers since some of us have smaller or larger hands than others. It’s nice to be able to swivel out the thumb rest or adjust it forward a bit and swap out the palm rest for one that sits a little higher up!
The hardest part will be determining which version fits both your needs and your budget! Luckily, the guys over at HiTech Reviews have a great table that details the differences between the various R.A.T. model versions. From the basic, low DPI wired R.A.T.3 to the wireless, 5600 DPI, fully customizable R.A.T.9, it’s all there.
If you want a new high-quality gaming mouse that’s customizable and with a very nice set of features, pick up one of the Cyborg R.A.T. line!