“ Brand: Game / Type: PS3 Controller „
If there's one thing wrong with the out-of-the-box Playstation 3 experience, it's the fact that the basic console only comes with one controller. Given that so many games support two players, it means that the first thing many gamers will do is rush out and buy a second controller (which is, of course, exactly what Sony wants you to do). With prices for the official controller starting upwards of £35, this can be an expensive business. Thankfully, this cheaper, unofficial version sold by high street store Game is a perfectly adequate alternative.
Two things instantly strike you about this Gameware controller. The first is the price. At £14.99 for the wired version and £19.99 for the wireless option, you can buy two or three of these for the cost of an official one. Since I only use a second controller occasionally, I was perfectly happy with the slightly cheaper wired version and it's that one that this review focuses on.
The second thing that strikes you is that it is a lot bigger and chunkier than the official version and not as good looking. To be honest, it appears a little cheap and tacky. Although essentially the same design as the official controllers, it is encased in thick black plastic that doesn't do much for its looks.
On the one hand, this plastic coating is a good thing, as it makes the unit pretty robust. As any gamer will know, some games drive you to frustration so much that you throw your controller on the floor; this one will absorb quite a bit of punishment (although the black plastic finish does mean that scratches show more obviously). The downside is that the controller is a lot less ergonomic. The increase in size might be relatively small (put it next to an official controller and there's only a couple of centimetres in it for each of the main dimensions), but, as everyone knows, size really does matter. The increased size means the controller doesn't sit quite as comfortably in your hand, so whilst the controller is fine for shorter gaming sessions, it's not as good over longer periods. After playing with it for a while you will notice that your hand starts to ache a little - not something I have ever experienced with the official controller.
There are also slight issues with the shoulder buttons (L/R 1 and 2), too. Thanks to the increased size, your fingers don't rest on them quite as naturally as they do on the official version. There have been a few times when I have manically tried to press them only to find my fingers have slipped of them - very frustrating. These buttons are also not quite as responsive as they should be and often require a fair degree of force to press them in. They also make a rather alarming "clunk" noise, which is slightly disconcerting the first few times it happens, although it doesn't appear to damage the controller in any way.
The layout of the controller is almost identical to the official version, with a few minor design changes (to avoid copyright infringement). The action buttons (Square/Circle etc.) are made up of slightly more muted colours and their icon is a dotted, rather than solid line. Practically, however, this makes no difference, since they are laid out in exactly the same order as normal. The buttons themselves are springy and responsive and I've never had any problems getting them to work. The same is true of most of the other buttons, although the Start button can occasionally be a little tricky to access as it sits very close to the edge of the panel.
I've found the two joysticks to be virtually indistinguishable from those on the official version. They feel exactly the same, move easily and are highly responsive. These are probably two of the most crucial bits of the controller, so it's good to see that Gameware got it right.
The D-Pad is more of a disappointment and is probably the weakest area of the controller. Whereas the official D-Pad is simply four arrow buttons (making it easy to slip your finger between the two for fast changes of direction), the D-Pad here is an ugly black chunk of raised plastic that feels as though it's mounted on a rocker switch. Not only does this make the unit look cheap and nasty, it's also not very nice to use. It feels very awkward and although it is indented to distinguish between the different directions, it's nowhere near as easy or intuitive to use. I have frequently found that my finger has accidentally slipped onto the wrong direction, or that the rocker switch has moved in the wrong direction, resulting in a frustrating in-game death.
Elsewhere, things are pretty much as you'd expect. This wired version of the controller comes with a reasonable sized lead (about 2 metres long), so you don't have to sit right on top of your PS3 and TV setup to use it. It also has a built-in rumble pack which, whilst not quite as powerful as the official one, still gives that crucial kinetic feedback.
Inevitably, some shortcuts have had to be taken to keep the price down, but despite these, the Gameware PS3 controller is a perfectly adequate piece of kit. It's not the best looking or most ergonomically designed controller in the world, but it's solid, reliable and a lot cheaper than the official version. If you're looking for a second controller for occasional use (or as a backup), then it's a good value for money buy. Just by clear about why you want it: if you're looking a controller that you will use regularly and for long gaming sessions, you might be better off paying a little bit more for the official version.
© Copyright SWSt 2012