Have you ever looked at the wealth of exclusive action games available on consoles like the PS3 and XBox 360/One and wished that they would come out for the PC? I know I have. I like console games some times, but the controllers are NOT my friend; they make my hands cramp like nothing else out there. That’s where the IOGear KeyMander comes in.
The IOGear KeyMander is a compact little unit that hooks up to your game console and has USB connections for attaching a mouse, a keyboard, and a game controller. With some configuration (which I’ll get into below) it then allows you to play console games the way they were meant to be played – with WASD, on the keyboard, with the mouse.
The KeyMander is an enthusiast’s tool. If you’re an action-game junkie looking for the greatest possible level of fine control in shooters, the KeyMander was designed specifically for you. If you’re more comfortable with gaming on the keyboard/mouse combo than you are with controllers, and you don’t mind some technical setup, you’ll get a lot of value out of it as well. If you’re a casual gamer though, or maybe one of those people who think console game controllers are the best interface ever designed, then maybe the KeyMander isn’t going to be your cup of tea. Your mileage may vary.
To use the KeyMander, you have to configure it for each game. You’ll always need a keyboard, mouse and game controller hooked up to the KeyMander for it to work, and the bulk of the configuration is done in a program running on a Windows computer. (Sorry Mac and Linux fans; in many ways, Windows is still the gaming king’s system.) You’ll also need a firmware update for the device; check the IOGear site for the firmware appropriate to your console.
The configuration screen looks kind of intimidating, but it’s not as bad as it seems at first. If you’ve ever taken a look at a game’s settings to adjust the controls, you’ll quickly feel at home working with it. And better, IOGear realizes that it’s a pain to have to hook the device up to a PC just to tweak some settings or edit a control here and there, so they let you do some fine-tuning in-game, as well. Permanent changes have to be done on the PC though.
Once you have things configured to your liking, you can get to the important bit – playing! I don’t know what magic they’ve worked in making the KeyMander, but the experience is really fantastic. For my own testing to write this review, I used a Playstation 3 and configured the KeyMander for Grand Theft Auto V.
Just for the experience of it, the first time I tried playing, I left the default profile as it was without changing any settings. That didn’t work so well, though it did give me some important information. Obviously I was going to have to look at the game controls and the keymander controls and rework key bindings and such to make a sane control layout for myself, but it also gave me a real feel for how the KeyMander maps mouse movements to thumbstick movements.
After only one configuration session with the PC program, I had the game feeling a whole lot more playable, and my first guess at settings for mouse sensitivity were pretty spot-on. I only needed one more configuration to have GTAV extremely playable. From there, it was just a matter of minor tweaks and fine-tuning.
What amazed me was how much it genuinely felt like playing on a computer. All of the comfort and control that I’m used to was there. I’d had some initial doubts about how the mouse in particular would stand in for the controller’s functionality, but they’ve done a great job on the KeyMander and it feels just like it should.
The KeyMander is compatible with the PlayStation 3, XBox 360 and XBox One. (Sorry PS4 and Nintendo gamers; but you PS4 owners can rest assured that support will be coming later this year as a free download.) As I mentioned before, you’ll also need a Windows PC to configure it. The KeyMander is available now from Amazon.com for $84.99.
The KeyMander is slightly daunting at first to configure, but if you’re looking for the ultimate in console game control, it’s worth the effort. Could you see yourself using something like this in your gaming? Let us know in the comments, on the forums, or over social media!