Having just written a glowing review of the new Microsoft Arc Touch mouse in which I was struck by the sheer beauty of the thing, I thought it only right to take a look at what is quite possibly the ugliest mouse in the world to get my reviewing karma balanced. In that Arc Touch review I happened to mention that it was pretty useless to hardcore gamers, which inevitably led to my getting emailed by gamers asking what I recommend they should be looking at when it comes to the cutting edge of gaming mice. This review is my response, and my recommendation is go forgo form and embrace the functional beauty of the robot pig ugly Cyborg R.A.T 9.
If you've ever sat back and worried that your mouse just doesn't come with enough in the way of interchangeable palm rests and 'pinkie' grips, then the R.A.T is the answer to your prayers as it comes with no less than three of each. Yes, you read that right, three pinkie grips and three palm rests for you to choose from. The palm rests include one with a soft-touch finish that matches the body of the mouse, one with an enhanced grip rubber inlay and another which adds 4mm to the height of the R.A.T should you require it. The pinkie grips, meanwhile, offer the same soft touch and rubber inlay options plus one with a unique wing-shaped design to allow for pinkie resting during play which gives additional grip.
It's the focus on ultimate customisation that sets the R.A.T 9 apart, and oh boy do you get a lot of flexibility for your money. How about the ability to adjust the length of the mouse with a big screw to best suit the way you hold it and the size of your hand? If you have trouble with getting your thumb comfortable during prolonged bouts of play, no problem as the R.A.T has a thumb panel which moves both backwards and forwards as well as pivoting outwards for that perfect position.
But that's not all, you can also adjust the weight of your mouse depending on your personal style or the type of game you are playing. Each R.A.T 9 comes complete with no less than five removable six gram weights which can be used to change how heavy the mouse feels in the hand. Any spare weights being safely stored in a custom container to be found within the charging dock.
The 2.4GHz wireless technology of the R.A.T 9 promises 'zero latency' and I have to say that the response time delivered just that during all the gameplay I threw at it while testing. I played Call of Duty: Black Ops with this and a couple of wired gaming mice and quite honestly couldn't tell the difference between them, there was just no lag to speak of. I also rather like the dual lithium-ion batteries, custom built cells in little cartridges at that, which enable hot swapping in just seconds and without having to switch the mouse off. One of the cells charges in the supplied dock while the other powers your R.A.T and courtesy of the fact that one is always charging really does give you a truly uninterrupted 24/7 gaming capability. Of course, any gaming mouse worthy of your attention will come with custom software to allow the user to programme sensitivity for precision aim speeds, and the R.A.T 9 is no exception. I tend to opt for a lower sensitivity coupled to a higher mouse movement speed, and found that I could achieve this with no fuss at all. Indeed, the mouse comes with a twin-eye laser sensor capable of 6 meter per second tracking courtesy of reading each axis separately. Oh, and a rocker switch makes toggling between up to four custom dpi settings a synch. The range of 25-5600dpi in 25dpi increments should keep every gamer happy.
Call of Duty: Black Ops was a joy to play with the R.A.T 9, everything from the precision aim through to the precision sensor delivered, well, a really precise feel to my game. If you like to camp and snipe then that precision aim button is going to get a lot of use methinks. OK, so the R.A.T 9 sure ain't cheap, but you get a lot of mouse for your money and above all else you get a lot of game. The build quality, like the level of customisation, is superb. A mouse alone cannot make you play like a pro-gamer, but the R.A.T 9 will sure as heck make you feel like one.