One of the more enjoyable (or expensive, depending on your view) aspects of PC gaming is the vast variety of peripheral options available. When I built my first gaming PC, I focused on Razer products; admittedly this was because they had some of the industry’s most effective marketing, so they’re the company I felt most familiar with. Over time (and many broken mice), I started to lean toward Logitech’s sleeker and more reliable products.
I’ve been broadening my horizons lately, however, and exploring more niche options. Today we’re going to look at a company with a little less marketing muscle to see if they can run with the big boys: A4Tech, makers of the scary sounding Bloody Gaming ZL5 Sniper Lazer Gaming Mouse.
But don’t be scared! The ZL5 is a wired mouse with a fairly standard button setup; the most obvious differences are the several additional buttons on top of the mouse and the rocker on the side. The main selling point of the ZL5 is the device’s precision. As a mouse marketed to gamers who focus on sniping, it stands to reason that it’d be a good choice for that purpose. Indeed most of the unique features on the ZL5 are designed to help attain the pinpoint accuracy necessary for successful long-range shooting.
For instance, it’s very easy to adjust the sensitivity on the fly using the rocker on the left side of the mouse. This takes some getting used to, particularly if you don’t tend to play many first-person shooters, as this space is traditionally used for additional buttons. While the standard back and forward buttons are there (and invaluable as ever for web browsing), the only other button on the side is used for further sensitivity adjustment; holding it down drastically reduces the mouse’s speed allowing you to fine-tune your aim right before taking the shot.
As goofy as this all might sound, the takeaway is that you can dynamically adjust how touchy your aim is as you home in on a target. And yes, it actually works. I was never much of a sniper, but with the ZL5 I had very few issues taking people out at range by ratcheting down the mouse’s sensitivity as my aim got closer to the head. It almost feels like cheating. In fact, the “3” and “4” buttons on top of the mouse are preset to perform a near-instant triple- or quad-click, which is brutally effective if your aim is on point with a burst weapon in COD: Advanced Warfare or Battlefield: Hardline. This probably won’t make you into a world-class competitor if you weren’t already skilled at sniping, but it’ll certainly make a difference in your performance, which is more than can be said for your average “gaming”-branded peripheral.
Even the accompanying software makes it clear that you’re meant to use the ZL5 for hardcore FPS action, allowing you to adjust sensitivity and DPI even further. The ZL5A model – the one I used for this review – is more expensive but comes with a fully unlocked version of the software, while the standard ZL5 will come with restrictions on the more advanced options. I ended up being pretty fond of Bloody’s software; it’s got a ridiculously extensive number of options, but maintains a fairly small footprint and doesn’t eat up half the screen when you aren’t actively using it, simply offering a tiny window popup when you switch macro settings or change your sensitivity. Some of the writing might have used a second pass, but this is a Taiwanese company so it might be asking a bit much to expect perfect English, and in any case it’s easy enough to understand what you’re doing.
So for FPSes, it’s easy to say that the ZL5 is a winner. For other games, it’s not a bad choice, but you’re probably going to feel the lack of non-FPS features if you want something more specialized. For instance, if you’re after an MMO mouse you might be better served with Bloody’s , which features the all-important mass of side buttons to assist with hotkey control. Some might also be more interested in a wireless solution, since the ZL5 does have a cord; said cord is long and comes with a strap for cable management purposes, but this is still a corded mouse, which is a bit of a necessity for precision use.
All in all, for my first excursion with an A4Tech product was encouraging. I’d easily recommend the Bloody Gaming ZL5 Sniper Lazer Gaming Mouse over any of the equivalent Razer mice I’ve used; it’s more precise and certainly more durable. If you want an all-purpose gaming mouse the ZL5 will do just fine. I had no problems using it for web browsing, text editing and other everyday tasks. The lighting on the sides and rear doesn’t look too goofy, so you won’t seem quite as ostentatious as you would with, say, a Mad Catz R.A.T. or similarly decked out kit. I’m looking forward to seeing more from Bloody Gaming Gear – hate to say it, but my monogamous love affair with Logitech might be coming to an end…