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Pinnacle Game Profiler: review and give-away

Pinnacle Game Profiler (PGP) is, in essence, the best game controller programming software in the world.

For that statement to make any sense, I should explain what controller programming is: basically, PGP maps commands and functions to the buttons of your controller. That controller can be an Xbox 360 or PlayStation pad, a Wiimote, a Sidewinder or steering wheel -- it doesn't matter: as long as Windows detects your controller, PGP lets you mess around with it.

True, most modern games actually support gamepads out of the box -- but Pinnacle Game Profiler offers you so much more control. Then there are the games with no built-in gamepad support: Doom with a PS2 controller? Emulated Mario 64 with an Xbox 360 controller? With PGP almost anything is possible: you can even use your gamepad to control Windows. You've always wanted to control the mouse pointer with your analog stick and flip through browser tabs with the shoulder buttons, right?

Pinnacle Game Profiler does a lot more than map commands to your gamepad's buttons, though. Some of its functionality borders on 'OMg LAEM WALL HAX0R!!1', but still -- gaming's all about getting an edge on the opposition, no matter the cost, right?

Details of the give-away are at the end of the review -- as always, just leave a comment to be entered into the draw!

First, there's a fully-functional 30-day trial that you can download right now. If you have a wired Xbox 360 controller, just plug it in! PGP will detect it immediately. If you have Bluetooth, you can use your Wiimote -- PlayStation controllers need a USB adaptor. You can of course plug in steering wheels, joysticks -- whatever you have laying around, basically. (It's kinda fun to navigate Firefox by turning left and right on a steering wheel...)

Once you're plugged in, PGP automatically detects any games you have installed. If you have games installed in unconventional locations, you can either add them manually or alter the search path (Preferences > Game Find). That's it: you're now free to play your games with your games controller. I played Half-Life 2: Deathmatch with my steering wheel. It was fun. I died a lot. Some games, obviously, are still better suited to mouse and keyboard.

Now the advanced functionality, for the pro-gamers -- or lamers that need as much software assistance as possible. PGP lets you do some seriously crazy stuff with button-presses. Rather than X causing your character to shoot, you could bind it to 'reload and shoot'. Hold it down for an infinite stream of bullets!

There is also 'shifting' -- PGP allows for up to four shifted sets of buttons. So, for example, you could set the X button to shoot while you're holding a gun, but swing your knife when you're stealthed or slam on the vehicle's brakes.

Finally, there's a slew of 'cheating' modifiers that you can assign to buttons: Sticky, Rapid Fire and Sniper Assistant. Sticky is ideal for games that require a constant key-press for crouching. Rapid Fire does what you might think -- rapidly mashes the button for you -- and Sniper Assistant reduces joystick sensitivity when you're scoped or otherwise zoomed in.

As you can imagine, there's also the option to make your own game profiles. Make sure you look through both the official and unofficial lists beforehand though: PGP has a lot of enthusiastic power users that have probably done the hard work for you. Official game profiles are also updated periodically -- PGP prompts you to download them, which is cool.

All in all, PGP only really fails in one aspect: the interface. I know, I know, it's costly to hire a professional UI designer... but still! PGP is better than some, but woefully unintuitive in places. Why can I not edit a game's profile from the main menu? Why is there a cluster of 'text links' instead of a proper menu? Why does 'Edit' bring up an unimportant menu while the ambiguous 'Edit Configurations...' brings up the juicy button-mapping screen? Why, why, WHY?

Still, if anyone has the patience to coerce an application into behaving properly, it's gamers and power users. Pinnacle Game Profiler isn't for casuals, that's for sure.

And now, if you'd like to get your hands on a copy, we have 15 to give away! Just leave a comment to be entered into a random draw. The complete terms and conditions follow:
  • Open to legal US residents of the 50 United States and the District of Columbia and Canada (excluding Quebec) who are 18 and older.
  • To enter, leave a comment below.
  • The comment must be left by Saturday, May 22 at 11:59 PM Eastern Time.
  • You may enter only once.
  • Winners will be selected in a random drawing.
  • Prize: Pinnacle Game Profiler, retail value of $19.95 USD.
  • Click Here for complete Official Rules.

Tags: competition, controller, emulation, gamepad, games, giveaway, PGP, pinnacle game profiler, PinnacleGameProfiler, playstation, wii, xbox



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