The SideWinder FreeStyle Pro is the latest in the line of Game pad from Microsoft. The main difference with this release is the ability to control the pad without using the D-Pad. There is a sensor in the pad that detects which way it is tilting. This causes the game to react just as it would if you were using the D-Pad. The sensor allows driving games especially to come alive without the need for expensive wheels. It allows you to have that kind of driving feel as well as being a good game pad for standard games. It allows you to have it all in the one package. As well as the sensor the FreeStyle Pro offers 10 Buttons and a throttle control. The pad fits nicely on your hands and doesn't cause any strain even on long periods of play. Unfortunately though when gripped correctly it seems that pushing up on the D-pad sends the D-Pad in a diagonal direction. It may be just me but I had to do some awkward adjusting in the software control to allow it to fit me correctly. Luckily the software is easy to use and allows you to do things like set the orientation of the pad. All the buttons are well within reach though and no stretching is required to reach any of the 10 buttons. This is very important because you need to be able to find each button quickly when playing fast action packed games. The Throttle is also easily reached by either thumb. The FreeStyle Pro features either the USB or the Serial interface for easy connectivity to any machine. Also it came with a free game, in my case Motocross Madness. Not a bad package by all accounts, certainly recommended if you can’t afford a flight stick a wheel and a game pad. It does all the jobs to a very reasonable standard. Of course it could never replace having all three but for the cost saving that is gives you it’s a great idea.
You would hope all joysticks and pads to last a long time - often they don't, but this one is still going strong. It's excellent tilt system really works very well; i was a bit sceptical at first, but got the knack v.quickly. It only senses 30 degree movements - so you learn that there is no point twisting your wrists, in a wrist breaking fashion, just to get round that bend - no, it's no use - you just didn't brake early enough. It also has ten buttons - which is enough for nearly all games, Driver being the only game i've got that needed more. It does work best with driving games - it is a mite to sensitive with flight sim's - but still v. good. The only fault (and it is quite a problem) is the little D-pad - the plastic direction pad- it's rubbish, flimsy, and doesn't quite work correctly. This is a problem when trying to play games where the Tilt just can't be used. And there are a few - such as Monkey Island 4, Sheep, etc.
This is the first and only joypad i have owned for my PC. It comes complete with Microsoft Motorcross Madness, a brilliant dirt-bike game. The conntrol is comfortable in the hands and is no new desigh in the shape of it. It has 6 standard buttons on the right hand of the controller, and two buttons on the top of the pad. Of course it also features the axis pad. The control features a sensor axis. You can turn this on or off and by moving the pad horizontally or vertically the control acts as the direction pad. There is also a throttle wheel. A good buy, for £40. Motorcross Madness is to be suceeded by Motorcross Madness 2 very soon, although not very different.
what a weird control stick, the fact that sets this apart from other pads is tha fact that you can tilt the pad from side to side to control movement, great for driving games, and flight sims. There are 10 buttons which is more than you'll ever need and a generously large d-pad. This is the only problem i found, the d-pad is tilted, for comfort i assume, and therefore when you hold it up feels like up left, and vice versa. It can frustrate until you get used to it. The installation was terrificand updates on the web are available. The pad also comes with motocross madness, which itself is a pretty decent racing bike game, and a perfect game to showcase the pads ability. The pad is also USB making it easy to install in any new PC, and the MS CD works well to put it on & configure.