A4 Tech Bloody V5 gaming mouse review: The mouse for dedicated cheaters

[Originally posted to my PC gaming column at Examiner.com]

The Bloody V5 is a good mouse with some impressive software -- if you're willing to put in the time to master it.A4Tech’s Bloody gaming mouse sports the typical benefits and features common to most gaming mice, but what really sets it apart from the pack is its impressive and powerful software that is only limited by its poor usability and (possibly) your own willingness to spend time tinkering with it.

Features

The Bloody V5 has all the ‘core’ features of a typicalgaming mouse. It’s powered by an optical sensor capable of up to 3200 DPI (dots per inch)—maybe not as high as the latest and greatest 8200 DPI monster mice from some of its competitors, but in my experience more than adequate for most games and applications.

The Bloody V5 also supports 4 different polling rates (125/250/500/1000Hz), and up to 5 separate DPI settings between 100 and 3200 DPI, adjustable in 100 DPI increments. The Bloody V5 also supports DPI switching on-the-fly, multiple profiles, and it has 2 Programmable thumb buttons (3 if you count the scroll wheel).

The 3 buttons on the top of the mouse (behind the scroll wheel) each have hard-wired functions and thus aren’t programmable.

One final feature of the V5 (that A4Tech was very proud of at E3) are its shiny metal mouse ‘feet’ which provide a smooth glide and, more importantly, provide greater durability than the Teflon mouse feet used on the underside of most gaming mice.

But what really sets the V5 apart from its competitors is under the hood in its software—more on that shortly.

Comfort & Design

The Bloody V5 is covered in soft touch material with textured side grips, which is a good, comfortable overall design. The V5 also sports an ambidextrous shape, but it’s not designed to be used by left-handers—only a right-handed gamer could use the V5’s 2 programmable thumb buttons.

3 additional buttons sit behind the scroll wheel, each dedicated to a ‘firing profile’. In addition, double-clicking the top-most button causes the scroll wheel to flash, which you can then roll up or down to change the V5’s DPI setting. Unfortunately, this implementation isn’t as quick for in-game DPI switching as a dedicated up/down, DPI cycle or ‘sniper’ button.

The remaining 2 buttons are for activating different firing modes that can be customized in the V5 software.

Meet Oscar

At face value the Bloody 5 is a comfortable and fairly well-designed gaming mouse that doesn’t appear to do much to differentiate itself from its competitors, but the real magic is in its driver software, which includes its Oscar Macro software.

The Bloody V5’s Oscar Macro software is probably the most advanced macro software I’ve ever seen in a gaming mouse. Not only can it do all the usual tricks (record multiple keystrokes, mouse clicks, etc. with customizable timing intervals), but it also supports user-defined variables, if-then logic, and it can even record mouse movements on the screen (not just clicks).

For example, you can create a macro that consists of a series of keystrokes (pressing W 10 times to move forward, for example), pauses (waits 2000ms, or 2 seconds), and then either stops or continues depending on whether or not you press another button during the 2-second wait period. You can also create the macro so that if you do press the button, the macro either loops back to the beginning, kicks off a whole different set of commands, or jumps back to the middle of the macro and only repeats the last 5 commands.

I toyed around with it and created relatively simple macros to try out in Tribes: Ascend. My first was a simple series of actions: fire my weapon (left mouse button), switch weapons (scroll wheel), fire my second weapon (left-click), toss a grenade (G key), fly (right mouse click and hold) and move backwards (S key held down).

Granted, this could have been done with most other macro software—but now add the ability to pause and wait for input (such as pressing another button) to trigger off a secondary set of commands (or end the current set, or loop it, for example). I added a conditional ‘wait’ at the end of the macro so I could either repeat it if I pressed a button, or simply let it end if I didn’t. I later experimented with making the macro jump to the middle of the sequence when I pressed a button.

And truthfully I barely scratched the surface of what you can probably do with the Bloody V5 software. I suspect someone truly determined enough to master it could create really, really rude and abusive macros that border on cheating.

I can only guess that somewhere in Taiwan there’s an army of gold farmers armed with these things.

Headshot: Let’s cheat some more

In addition to the Bloody’s amazing macro capabilities, it’s got another trick up its clicker—the ability to adjust the cursor trajectory to compensate for weapon recoil. Basically what it does is enables you to tweak the cursor by adjusting the X and Y coordinates and shot (click) intervals, and then store those profiles. The profiles are activated by the 2nd (‘N’) and 3rd (3) buttons on the top of the mouse behind the scroll wheel.

For example, you could change the X and Y coordinates to go -0 / -5 after each shot to compensate for a weapon that pulls up as it’s fired—reducing the pull and making it more accurate. Why aim at the body to compensate for a weapon that pulls up when you can just aim at the face and hit it dead center?

Of course, developing firing profiles for your favorite weapons takes time. You’ll have to observe a weapon in-game by watching its firing pattern, and then experiment with different settings to create a profile for it. A4Tech also provides a simple Flash-based tool to test your settings, but ultimately you won’t know how well they will work until you try them in-game.

Regardless, it means you can potentially tighten up the firing pattern of just about any weapon in any FPS game, and neatly sculpt your bullet spray pattern to accurately shoot your enemies in the face. And out of the box, the Bloody V5’s firing modes can be used in most FPS games, though results will vary depending on the game and firing characteristics of the weapon.

(On a side note, don’t hit the ‘Headshot’ buttons when you’re not in a game, because it will make your mouse behave wonky.)

Are you willing to pay the price?

Unfortunately, where all of this amazing coolness and innovative software comes crashing down is the learning curve and time investment required to exploit it. The macro programming isn’t easy to learn, the documentation is terrible (and further hampered by very poor English translation), and everything requires a lot of tinkering and testing to make it work. And as of this writing, there isn’t much of a support structure, very little community, and few if any resources to help you.

It’s also difficult for me to recommend a mouse by a company that clearly hasn’t put the time in to make it ready for prime time in the U.S. The Bloody Web site is rife with terrible English, as are the manuals for the V5 and its driver software. This might be forgivable, but the overall UI for the driver software is pretty poor as well. The user interface was apparently designed “by software engineers, for software engineers”—or those willing enough to practically become one.

Performance

In terms of overall comfort and tracking, the Bloody V5 gaming mouse does a fine job. So how about the “recoil suppression”?

The short of the answer is that yes, it works. Out of the box, you can press either of the two buttons on top of the mouse to activate a ‘recoil suppression’ firing mode, although it may not behave with your favorite game optimally without a considerable amount of adjustment. I tried it out with Left 4 Dead 2 and without any modification it did seem to tighten up the firing pattern for the AK-47; with some tweaking I can probably improve it further, and with some serious tweaking maybe get near-sniper rifle accuracy. (Queue “Muhahahaha”.)

If you’re willing to invest the time (and considerable patience) in the Bloody software, you’ll find it to be a very powerful tool—and if you spend the time to get that good at it, you probably deserve to cheat in your FPS games. Maybe a high barrier to entry is a good thing in this case.

Overall: 4/5 stars

The Bloody V5 gives you all the essential features of a good gaming mouse, and it deserves big props for doing something very innovative with its powerful programmability—and on top of it, it’s pretty inexpensive at around $45.

Unfortunately, A4Tech still has a long ways to go before the user interface and documentation are good enough for me to strongly recommend it to any but those most dedicated to learning how to use it (i.e. big fat cheaters).

But if you’re willing to really roll up your sleeves and spend as much time tinkering with your mouse settings as you do actually playing your games, then the V5 may be a good choice for you. Otherwise, there are plenty of other contenders (from the likes of Razer, SteelSeries, Mad Catz, Logitech, etc.) that may not be quite as robust in their macro capabilities but offer a much better overall user experience and support.

A4Tech Bloody V5 features & specifications (courtesy of A4Tech)

  • Multi-core system (i.e. the firing profiles)
  • Buttons: 7 total
  • Tracking: Optical engine
  • Type: Wired
  • Mouse connection: USB (2.0/3.0)
  • Hardware system requirements: Windows
  • Software system requirements: Windows XP / Vista / Windows 7 / Windows 8
  • Mouse size: 125 x 64 x 39 (mm)
  • Cable length: 1.8 m
  • Mouse weight: 155 g

Technical Specifications

  • Resolution: 200 Dpi to 3,200Dpi (5 ranges adjustable)
  • Image processing: 368 mega pixels / sec
  • Acceleration: 30g
  • Tracking speed: 75 inches / sec
  • Report rate : 125/250/500/1000Hz
  • Key response time: 1ms
  • 160K onboard memory Key response time: 1ms

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