Shogun Bros Ballista MK-1 Review

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Today we have the Ballista MK-1 from Shogun Bros Commander series of peripherals for review. Shogun Bros are relatively new on the scene, with the Ballista Mk-1 only launching earlier this year. The mouse is their only current offering under the Commander series and is priced and kitted towards those looking to delve into more serious gaming peripherals whilst not breaking the bank. At £50, the Mk-1 (for here on wards) is both priced and specced competitively with Corsair, Logitech and Cyborg offering plenty of competition in this bracket.

Part Number PM-1002-BL-IUS
Warranty Information 1 year
System Requirements Windows 2000, XP, Vista, 7 and 8.
Package Contents Mouse and manual.
Tracking 200-8200DPI, “Gaming Grade” laser sensor and image processor.
Responsiveness 100-1000Hz polling rate, 12000 frames per second.

With it’s 10 programmable buttons and ~8200 DPI, it’s time to give the MK-1 a closer inspection and put it through its paces.

The mouse itself appeared at first to be a ‘leftie’ in the solid, if unspectacular packaging, but low and behold it’s right-handed only (sorry lefties).

Rear of the packaging

The Mk-1 in all its glory:

 

 

 

From these pictures you can see where the programmable macro buttons are, the DPI selector down by where your thumb rests as well as the usual suspects of the back, forward and scroll wheel. You can also see the array of LEDs in regards to both DPI and the independent resolutions for the X, Y and scroll. Lastly, we get to appreciate this unique looking yet snug fitting mouse in full view.

Aesthetically, I think the mouse delivers. The solid use of a matte finish means it doesn’t look jarringly tacky or ridiculous like that higher end R.A.T. mice. As mentioned earlier the red and black braiding is keeping in with most build themes and even the LED’s aren’t Christmas tree levels of colour clash. Perhaps an option to dim the lights completely when not configuring or switching between modes (the light in the wheel pulses the colour of whatever “mode” is in operation) may have been a nice addition but they’re not offensive in anyway.

Of course, Shogun Bros have gone with the ever ubiquitous black and red cable design (although varies depending on the mouse’s base colour) and this should be at home with the majority of systems out there.

The only things inside the packaging beside the mouse itself is a simple support ticket should you have any issues and a quick start guide to the features and configuration of the MK-1.

As you can see, Shogun Bros have ditched a driver disc to save on accurately described one-time use waste. Shogun Bros have done themselves proud here and this is something all manufacturers should really look to do for peripherals as well as components.

The underside of the mouse is a no-frills affair covered by two gliding pads around the bottom (wrist end) of the mouse  as well as a smaller one at the top. Whilst I’m not a mouse design connoisseur by any stretch, this design definitely “works” compared to my daily mouse – although this will be touched up on later.

A last shot is a comparison with my daily Razer Mamba as both mice have a similar setup where key function buttons are concerned – the “game keys” on the Mk-1’s RMB and on the Mamba, its DPI buttons on the LMB.

Much like the packed product, the Mk-1 software is a low key yet fully functional suite. The most current version for download is 1.02.

First up we have the ‘Button Function’ section.

As you can see it’s a fairly low-key affair but sadly, functionality doesn’t follow the same simplicity. If you look at button ‘7’ for example i’ve assigned it the ‘F’ key. To get the ‘F’ key assigned to the ‘7’ button you have to click the grey ‘7’ button and then scroll through a predefined set of assignable keys to apply to button 7.

First thing here is the forced scrolling – why you can’t just click the assignable button then tap F, for example, is a bit strange and makes the system unnecessarily cumbersome. Secondly, although certainly less of an issue, is that you can only assign certain keys. If there is anyone out there plucky enough to already have the alpha-numeric characters and the ever trusty Shift, Ctrl etc already locked down you’re basically left with a redundant mouse button(s). Again, it just seems bizarre to not offer a direct key stroke map to the “game key” buttons. It’s also worth mentioning that if you want to return a given mode’s buttons to default you have to drag the default option from the scroll menu onto each button necessary – why?

Also in view is the 5 different “modes” you can have setup. This is actually quite useful and so you can just blast through different configs either depending on game, vehicle (i had two setups for BF3 for infantry and vehicles) or even application use.

The macro screen and functionality is quite standard.

This was before I added in my Battlefield 3 “stop, drop, reload” key press. There’s the usual import and export options so I can bind ones I have saved elsewhere to the mouse as well as the option to fine tune sequences by inserting specific keys and delays within a sequence and not having to start all over. This isn’t possible on my only other macro device (Razer Nostromo) with the same level of customisation, so Shogun Bros have scored another point here.

Finally there is the DPI configuration screen.

As you can see in this section you can control mouse acceleration, polling rate and DPI of both the X and Y axis. The resolutions running through the four modes on the right are the stock values, although I find 1600DPI to be just fine for the games I play and tested on a 2560*1440 screen. You can click on each mode and obviously assign then a specific DPI and all you have to do is nudge the rocker forward/backwards during gameplay and the DPI changes instantly.

From a personal perspective, this is the most important feature of the mouse. Not being a macro heavy gamer, the DPI feature is my best friend in games like Battlefield 3 where I can drop it down to 200DPI to zero in on the camper atop the crane on Strike at Karkand or I can jack it back up for general moving and shooting. Likewise, 1600DPI is perfect for general League of Legends gameplay, but if I needed to pan across the map fast I can just ramp up (and down) the DPI setting.

All in all, the software functionality is solid. It isn’t that hard to find your way around even if you’re new to the higher-end of gaming peripherals and even if you get stuck, the miniature guide included in the box is straightforward enough to follow. To sign off on the software side of things, the installation was painless and the program is fast and responsive – more than can said for some of the more prominent competitors offerings that I’ve used for sure.

During gameplay and Windows usage, the mouse is great. For general use and games I couldn’t fault it. However, if you want to use the features that Shogun Bros are pushing with the mouse it falls a bit flat.

The ‘Precision Sniping System’ (PSS) hasn’t been mentioned up until now because really it’s much ado about nothing. The Mk-1 let’s you customise DPI settings on the fly as well as change it between the four preset modes you may or may not have setup. To customise the three DPI parameters(X, Y, scroll) you’re required to hold in the configuration button on top of the mouse for three seconds at which point you use the scroll wheel to adjust sensitivity. To this end, I’m not sure where the PSS comes into it. It’s more of a lazy mans way to adjust DPI, that’s some how, more long winded than tabbing in and out of a program into the MK-1 software and doing it in there and then tabbing back in. I don’t understand what’s “precise” about this at all. In the three seconds minimum of configuration you’re target has probably upped-sticks and killed you.

Secondly, the game key button placement could be better. If you refer back to the product images I mentioned how the the MK-1 had key function buttons on the mouse button and the same for the Mamba. I find myself hitting the buttons by accident during the intensity of a team-fight on League of Legends for example, admittedly, nothing as catastrophic as hitting the DPI button on the Mamba and spooning a skillshot when it’s needed most. It just seems a bit shortsighted to have these keys next to, if not on, the most important and frequented part of the mouse.

With the PSS system and game buttons aside, as mentioned above it’s been a joy to use. It glides a lot better than my Mamba on Razer’s own mousepad and even with the wired configuration of the mouse it never feels like i’m fighting it to slide it around. The placement of the DPI sensor couldn’t be in a better place, nor the back and forward buttons. The fit of the mouse is great too, I found, even when trying to simulate a claw or palm grip – the best being a sort of halfway house between the two as there’s an elbow rest of sorts for the ring finger on the right side of the mouse. It’s weight feels just right, too, and moving it into position never feels like a chore. Perhaps given the price of the mouse there should be a level of customisation where weights are concerned but from my experience it isn’t needed.

To conclude on my time and thoughts with the Mk-1, I’m left feeling impressed, mainly. Shogun Bros have brought a solid package to the table, competitively priced and well performing. The mouse itself functions as expected backed up by a software suite that’s as bare-bones (in the good sense) as you’d want before you’d have to start physically removing features from the mouse.

The only thing stopping the Mk-1 from being a great mouse rather than a solid option is just that. It feels solid, if unspectacular. Anyone could pick up this mouse – and to cut the chase I would recommend it – but it only ever offers as much as it needs to, nothing more. Two of my niggles with the mouse can be easily fixed through the software. The cumbersome steps to assign keys to the mouse and the limits Shogun Bros have placed on these assignable keys is a shame. Again, I’m grasping at straws here because I can’t imagine what situation anyone would be in where you would already have 36 keys assigned, but I felt it took longer than it should have to assign ‘Knife’ for Battlefield 3 or ‘run’ and ‘walk’ in Shogun 2 to the MK-1.

Coming back to the PSS system and if you bought it for the precision sniping you’ve been sold a cropper. The mouse already had the PSS locked down with it’s on the fly-DPI setting. Perhaps I’m not well traveled enough where my game library is concerned, but I found the four DPI settings open to the user ample for FPS, MOBA and RTS games. I’m not actually sure when I’d need to then edit my DPI settings in-game because the four offerings between 200-8200DPI wasn’t enough – more so edit it without affecting gameplay any less than tabbing in and out would.

To round off this review then, I’d have no qualms at all about suggesting the Mk-1 to anyone in the market at the £50 price bracket. Whilst they’re aimed at different price brackets and aside form the wireless capability, I feel the Mk-1 trumps my Mamba in every department (including software) and costs nearly half as less. The buttons are placed well for the most part, they respond well and the mouse feels comfortable to use. The software is great and easy to use and there’s no reason why the team at Shogun Bros can’t iron out the last few niggles and slide in some more features (LED control).

The MK-1 then is a strong contender for anyone in the market for a fully functional gaming mouse. Unless you have a strong dislike of the aesthetics there’s no reason not to shove your money in Shogun Bros direction.

  • Performance
  • Design
  • Value

Summary

The Shogun Bros Ballista MK-1 is one of the best all-round gaming mice on the market currently and really have hit the ground running. If your in the market for a solid gaming mouse, look no further than the Ballista MK-1.

4.3

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