Joysticked: Shadowgun on the Moga Pro

shadowgun

DISCLAIMER: This new series is in no way sponsored by Moga. I happened to use the controller at the Google I/O sandbox for the multiplayer game demos, and instantly fell in love with it. In my eyes, the Moga Pro is the best thing to have happened to mobile gaming since Snake, and the aim of this series is to encourage more game developers to include support for such controllers.

I typically do not write about games, simply because I’m not a big mobile gaming fan. The casual ones are far too underwhelming for me, while the on-screen controls pretty much always result in me being dead in action games before I’ve even spotted the enemy. In fact, Shadowgun (which some of our older readers may remember I named as one of my favorites back when I joined) might just be the only title I have completed ever.

Everything changed after about a minute with the Moga. I knew I HAD to have one, and placed my order on Amazon almost immediately. Setting up the Moga, at least on my HTC One X, is pretty straightforward. Switch on the controller to the ‘A’ position, switch on Bluetooth on your device, and launch the Moga pivot app. From there, the app will pair the controller for you and then connect to it. As you would expect, Moga’s app lists several games that support the controller, and have a separate tab from where you can launch games that you have installed.

I decided to go with Shadowgun first since I wanted to see how the experience would be with a third person shooter. Upon launch, you need to open up the setup page and configure the keypad as per your requirements. The text here isn’t perfectly sized, with my guess being that the font size has been set using absolute pixels instead of density independent ones. A bit of squinting is going to be necessary.

Once everything was set, I started a new game all pumped up, thinking that I’m about to completely whoop the AI’s ass. Within a few minutes, I was put in my place. You see, having not played a serious game in a long, long time (the last I can remember is Counter Strike at LAN parties in my college in 2009), I just wasn’t used to control with such precision. I would often stop in my tracks to shoot the humanoids, keep getting hit by those creepy exploding spider-like robots, and was no match for those little flying drones. And don’t even ask me about how I fared against the lobster-shaped enemy boss.

However, I stuck at it, and was soon improving. I started getting used to the gamepad layout and was beginning to perform multiple actions at the same time. A great example of what is possible with the Moga is the stage against the Driller. For those who haven’t played Shadowgun, this stage essentially sees you running away from a huge drilling vehicle that wants to run over you inside a tunnel, while at the same time requiring you to turn about a bit and hit four targets on the way that would help destroy the machine. This means you are often running straight, then turning about and shooting at those targets while running backwards, and then turning around again. Also, there are a bunch of obstacles in the path.

Without the controller, this stage had taken me forever. Needing to perform three actions at once with on-screen controls can be extremely difficult. It wasn’t a piece of cake with the Moga, either, but I got it done much, much quicker. I also could see the progress I had made in getting accustomed to the controller. Once I had that level done, I felt like Keanu Reeves in The Matrix saying to Morpheus “I know Kung Fu”. Except it took me much longer.

So, I have a few suggestions with my conclusion: the first is that if you were on the fence regarding the Moga, my suggestion would be to buy it. This is what serious mobile gaming needed for a long time. With those $50, and maybe some HDMI-output or something, you essentially have turned your device into a pretty good console that you can carry around with you. In fact, it got me through a ton of my 24-hour flight back to India from San Francisco. They will be demoing a variant with an in-built battery pack for your device at E3, which you might want to wait for.

The second suggestion is that if you own a Moga, get Shadowgun now. The last would be for those who don’t own a Moga, and have never played Shadowgun: get the game now, if not both!

[Google Play Link for Shadowgun | Amazon link for Moga Pro]

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  • Ceefax

    MOGA also available in the UK at GAME btw. £29.99 for pocket and £39.99 for Pro. (preorder currently, releases Friday 14th June in UK)
    http://www.game.co.uk/webapp/wcs/stores/servlet/HubArticleView?hubId=232756&articleId=232757&catalogId=10201&langId=44&storeId=10151&cm_sp=home-_-splitskinny-_-moga

  • Leeo Johnson

    Thanks for the review. I’m going to try this controller as I don’t like on screen controls either.

    It’s a third person shooter, though, a la Gears of War. (Best shooter ever, SGun is its mobile clone)

    Not a first person shooter.

    • Raveesh Bhalla

      I think that perfectly demonstrates how out of touch I am with gaming. Thanks, and fixed.

    • gmplr831

      Did u try NOVA 3 that came with the controller or Dead Trigger? Both are equally as fun as Shadowgun, though I think NOVA 3 is harder personally

  • simpleas

    Moga controllers are definitely improving. They look great.

  • Blkegk

    I rather use my ps3 controller over the moga.

    • Raveesh Bhalla

      To each his own, and I’m sure the experience with that would be pretty good, too. The point about this series, however, is not the controller but developers building games compatible with controllers.

      • simpleas

        yes, I also prefer ps3 wireless with my note 2 but moga is looking better now.

  • Seth Forbus

    I still think I’ll play this on the Nvidia shield. I had a moga for a while and it was just such a hassle to set up with the pivot app. Not only that, but I needed special drivers to get it to work with emulators and such.

  • Ajmcnicol

    or …instead of being forced to use the controller with ‘supported games’, you can download controller apps from android playstore like Sixaxis..and then use a playstation 3 controller..or the app for the wii mote…etc..

    That way, i can save 50 bucks and use a controller i already have or buy one cheap off ebay..and use it with ANY game by just mapping buttons.

    • Raveesh Bhalla

      As far as I know, you can do the same with the Moga (I haven’t tested it but have seen it mentioned on various forums). The mentioned “supported” apps are only those that have been verified, and my guess is to a degree, promoted by Moga. Also, the clip on the controller is pretty darn good for any phone size, and they also provide a small stand for tablet users.

      Moga’s getting better, particularly with what I mentioned towards the end regarding the unveiling of their next variant with a built in battery pack. Hopefully more and more games come with out-of-the-box support for it.

      • Ajmcnicol

        The true fix for all this is Google to come out with an official controller API. Then all future games and all current games (with an update) can easy map with any 3rd party controller with no mapping required if that controller is built for the API.

        I dont mind the Moga..seems good quality. But my issue is its not like it has a dedicated screen (like nvidias new Shield). It uses your phone screen. So its not like your gonna leave your phone connected to it all the time. When your done playing your going to put it back in your pocket and put the poga away. To me thats no different then using a controller i already own or can get for a lot less the 50 bucks. 2 bucks for the app, 4 bucks for a cheap phone stand if your phone case doesnt have one laready built in, and if you need to buy a controller 10 buys for a wiimote or ps3 controller off ebay or craigslist and for less then half the price you have the same thing.

        • Raveesh Bhalla

          The point of the Moga is that you’re not going to need your screen (here your phone) connected to a gamepad all the time, unlike the Project Shield which is a dedicated device and not something everyone wants.

          And I’m sure a lot of people are more than happy to go out and buy the app and everything else, but not everyone. Also, if you want the mobile experience Moga offers, you don’t need just a stand, but something like a GameKlip which retails for about $30. Yes you can probably save a bit going with the PS3, but if I was to advise the average Android user, I would point to the Moga.

  • kc

    Thanks for the review Raveesh! Can you please post a picture of your One X on the Moga Pro while you are holding it, just to get an idea of its relative size.

    • Raveesh Bhalla

      Fortunately GadgetBoi has done it with his above, lacking a second camera for a few days at home :/

  • GadgetBoi

    I’ve had the Pro for a little over a month. Works great for Real boxing and MC4 too!
    Needs a little weight in the grips for me though, feels light.

    • Raveesh Bhalla

      Will give them a try. What I’m worried about most is how much of a hit will my productivity take.

      • Del373

        Several hits if you’re playing Real Boxing, hey-o!

  • atomD21

    I got the pro shortly after launch and I love it. I almost immediately got way better at Modern Combat 4! One of the best parts for me is that even though the official word is the Pro doesn’tsupport emulators, the HID compliant B Mode works perfectly with every one I have thrown at it so far. Completely worth the $50 for anyone that is thinking about it!

  • guitarist5122

    I bought the pocket one today because you posted this. Been wanting one for awhile but was waiting for the price to come down. $21 on ebay, new. Oh yeah!

  • Crickerman

    Looks good, love six axis (and touch emulation) too much to switch though

  • Drew Lawton

    If you want to get the most out of your Moga controller (I have the 1st generation), grab the Moga Universal Driver app https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=net.obsidianx.android.mogaime . It connects your Moga controller to your phone without needing the Pivot app and registers it as a gamepad device in Android which allows it to be used for emulators and any other game/app that supports bluetooth controllers.

    • Raveesh Bhalla

      I believe it’s now built into the Pivot app, which has a “B” mode. Just switch the controller to the B mode as well, and continue. PS: that’s what you need to do to get Shadowgun running, as well.

  • veteran29

    Moga controller is quite cool but i would rather use ps3 pad + gameklip

  • XtremeMorph

    i got pretty bad experience with my MOGA controller on GS3, after sometime of play, it would lag badly. I never have such experience with my PS3 controller paired via SixAxis. Working out the control is a bit tough (especially for Dead trigger) but i never experience lag with it, can play few hours of MC3 without issue.

    Anyway i would prefer hard wired controller (SHIELD), hopefully it doesn’t disappoint when it release.

    • Raveesh Bhalla

      Are you referring to the Moga Pocket? I haven’t had a single issue with the Pro so far, though I’ve heard their older variant had some flaws.

      • XtremeMorph

        Yes, the Moga pocket.

  • gmplr831

    Completely agree. Love Dead Trigger, Shadowgun, muffin knight and more! Sonice Ep 2 and Sonic CD work well. Did u try the free NOVA3 that came with the controller yet

    • Raveesh Bhalla

      Nova? I got Pacman free with it :(

  • zin11

    i prefer sixaxis way more, but if moga got more popular, we would see more ingame controller support from devs, which sixaxis can benefit from anyway by emulating native android controller. emulating touch is nice, but i really like it when games have built in support for the physical stuff.