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We all know that official is usually best. If the original company has any sort of prowess, and a half decent research department, they will find the best layout for the pad and then patent it. This inevitably means any other companies have to settle for the 'second-best' layout. And this is the case with the Xbox pads. I have tried the Madcatz pad along with the Logic 3 pad, and the only thing they have over the official pads is the price. AESTHETICS: The Xbox pad is well known for its size. It's bulky, its big, and its hard to use for the first time. But once you've had a few goes with it, you find its hard to go back. The pad sits nicely in two hands and doesn't slip and slide when your palms get sweaty (important in some games!). The pad is set up of a main oval type shape, with two fairly large pieces coming down either side. It's hard to explain, but then everyone has seen one somewhere. You hold the pad with the two side parts coming into your hands. Because of the angles involved, the pad almost 'sticks' into your hands, leaving your fingers free to press the required button. The XBox's main rival, the Playstation, has a pad which almost requires you to hold the pad with your fingers at the back. This leads to the occassion accidental press of one of the top buttons, or the pad slipping out of your hands in the middle of a game. Thankfully, Microsoft have designed this pad to get around all those problems. The pad contains a lot of buttons, and two triggers, along with 2 analogue sticks. But all can be reached from the initial hand position and don't require adjustment of the pad in the hand. Rather useful when you often find games need you to press two things at once. THE ANALOGUE STICKS: Most games on the Xbox make use of the analogue sticks. These are like little joysticks sticking out of the pad. Operated by the thumb on either hand, they can take sme getting used to, but once you get used to them you won't go back. The advantage to the analogue sticks is that they aren't restricted to 8 directions like the old D-pads that were used by consoles in the past. You have almost 360 degree movement and this improves the flexibility the player has when playing a game - such as the direction you would get your player to run while playing FIFA, or the swing of your golf club in Tiger Woods. Generally, the left analogue stick is used for movement, and the right is used for anything else that might be needed in the game you're playing. THE TRIGGERS: The Xbox pad also comes complete with 2 underside triggers. These help the user get a feel for the pad when first used as they force your hand to mould around the pad so they can be pressed. This leads to all the benefits listed in the aestethics section. The triggers themselves are used mostly in racing games as accelerate and brake. They are also often used for performing 'special tasks' in other games, such as throwing a weapon in platform games, or performing tricks on football games. They're well placed, easy to reach and are sensitive enough to detect when you press them, without reacting to the accidental soft touch as you swing the pad to the right while jerking your body to the tight hairpin you're taking on Need For Speed Underground 2!. THE BUTTONS: The Xbox also has 4 main buttons, labelled X, Y, A and B. These are on the right hand side of the pad and are generally pressed with the thumb. Placed in a diamond shape, it makes it easy to press them in quick succession for games like Rocky, where button combinations are a real must in the training and final fights. The buttons are also coloured coded in blue, yellow, green and red. This has always been something I've liked as it allows the user to associate with the correct button quicker when first starting a game. You also get a black and a white button at the bottom right of the pad. again these are generally used with the right thumb, and add extra options for games. Apart from Tiger Woods (where you use them for power and spin on your shot), I've yet to find a game that makes more than a fleeting use of these buttons, but they are there and always another option for programmers. THE START/BACK BUTTONS: As with most console pads of the past, the XBox pad has a start button. This button allows the game to be paused in most cases, often bringing up a menu for you to change options etc... However, the XBox pad also has a back button. Both are located on the left hand side of the pad, allowing you to quickly slip your right thumb from the analogue stick to the pause button without having to look for it. This works well when you constantly have to stop playing because your crawling baby has just made a bee-line for the green power button! DURABILITY: The Xbox pad is durable to say the least. Made of strong plastic, the pad can be dropped a whole number of times and still function fine. The unusual thing about the pads is that they seem to stop wrking after 2 years. Its almost like its a deliberate in-built fault! The XBox will start asking you to insert a controller and press start every 20 mins in a game and this is highly annoying - so you have to go and buy a new one. This happened to both my pads, and the neighbours pad as well - so it isnt just me! SUMMARY: The Official XBox pad is superb. Its easy to the hand, easy to grip and easy to reach all the buttons. It's different to older console pads so takes a little getting used to, but I would never go back. The number of buttons means programmers can almost set the pad to the game by using different buttons to force you to hold the pad in different ways. FIFA makes you use the coloured buttons for passing and shooting, but Tigers Woods 2006 makes you use the black and white buttons for power and spin, meaning programmers have far more scope to mould the gaming experience in a more physical way. Thankyfully, the bigger programmers do this to great effect. Undoubtedly the best XBox pad on the market, and possibly the best console pad around at the moment, but at a price. Other pads do the same job, albeit slightly less successfully, but for the price, it might be worth just settling for the logic 3 pad - especially if you're kids use it. THE PRICE: The problem with the Xbox pad, isn't that it isnt the best, as it clearly is. It's better in any area than its competitors. The only problem is the price. Retailing at no less than £24.99 on the high street, its hard to warrant the £15 more to buy this pad compared to the Logic 3 pad, which is more than playable and retails at just £9.99. Second hand pads are also a risk as the pads seem to have an inbuilt fault that they stop working after 2 years of use... what if the one you pick up for £10 has been used for 20months before you get it? You can also buy a wireless version, but this is somewhat poorer quality and you find that someone walking in front of the TV stops it working (so you can't even pause it!). Still, if you live on your own you could always stump up the extra £5 again to get the wireless controller.
There's no beating about the bush - the XBOX controller is almost as big as the Gamecube when it was released in November 2001. Still, after all the horrible press it's got, I have to say...the XBOX controller is...well...great! People complain about it being huge; but they probably just have tiny, girly palms. This is a man's pad, for man's hands. What's more, it can back up the size with performance, not mentioning a few tricks up its sizeable sleeves. It's a nice black colour to match your machine, with a honking great XBOX logo at the top (in case, you know, you forget what you're playing on), and it fits snugly in your hands. The two handles each have triggers which in my view, immediately puts it ahead of all the other controllers out there. The Z-trigger MADE the N64, and XBOX has taken that and all other innovations, and bunged them on there. Eight buttons lie perilously close to the right analogue stick, and there's a d-pad as well as a left analogue stick on the other side. It's not the best configuration, but five minutes of Halo and you'll be lost without a hunk of plastic in your hands. Most games use both control sticks extremely effectively, and usually you only need a few of the 'face' buttons so you won't be stretching for the ones at the top. There are shoulder buttons as well, and a neat little slot in the back for a memory card or other device (such as the headset/microphone combo when XBOX Live lands over here). There's a rumble to make the experience even more palpable, with your arms trembling each time you fall off your snowboard, or get kicked in the face. It's not new, but it's pulled off with the style and efficiency Microsoft is famous for. All in all, the XBOX's pad is my favourite of the current crop. Triggers, c-sticks, an old school d-pad, enough buttons for a fat man's Ben Sherman shirt and enough weight to br eak a cat's back if you drop it from five feet up. It may not win any awards for streamline design or economical use of materials, but it damn well makes for a good session of gaming. However for all gamers who did not like massive buttons so spaced out in its bulky form. Thus there is now a new Xbox controller called the Xbox controller S standing for small. Microsoft?s new design has featured in many good reviews and the Japanese who are now a big fan of the Xbox, loved it. Thus is introduced into Europe and is now available in the UK for around £25. The controller maybe smaller but features all the same buttons and the analog sticks are easier to get too but can also be pressed into to access extra buttons if needed for certain games such as Splinter Cell which require a lot of buttons to manipulate certain moves. It also features a rumble pack and 2 expansion slots where memory units can be placed to save game data. The quality of the controller is well-built with the most noticeable gameplay change being that the D pad is more precise which is very noticeable on racing games such as Sega GT. The only real flaws is the start button and the black and white buttons have been moved below the keys A,B, X, Y instead of having the placement at the top of the pad, this seems a little awkwardly placed especially if you require its use a lot but it can be easily adjusted too with regular use. Overall both controllers are impressive but due to game play reasons I must admit that the S controller beats the original since accuracy is a very important factor when playing games. The game pad reduction in size is an acquired taste but as already stated it poses no real difference if you have standard size hands which prefer the bulky approach such as myself. However I this new controller does accommodate those with a different preference or have smaller hands such as the younger target audience or even women who find the extra weight ted ious and a strain to cope with. Xbox Controller 8 out of 10 Xbox Controller S 9 out of 10 (due to the fact it?s more accurate and reaches a larger target audience)
When the XBox launched back in November of 2001, one of the biggest complaints by most gamers was its controller. It was not only massive but the buttons were spaced just a little too close together. When I first used it, I hated it. There was no way I could get used to this thing I though. Thankfully, when I eventually got my XBox on launch day along with a few games, I began using the controller more and more and eventually got used to it. Heck, I even grew to like it. I had really no problem with the size or the button placement any longer. Last winter the XBox launched out in Japan. Along with the launch overseas came a newly designed pad for Japanese gamers. The design was much smaller and featured better spacing between the buttons. I was considering importing since it looked like a rather good pad and it had gotten some very favorable reviews. Around the same time, Microsoft announced it would be releasing the a slightly improved version of the Japanese pad titled the Controller S. Looked interesting and I wanted one. Not that I had much of a problem with the standard XBox pad at this point, but as a hard-core gamer I always like to have at least 2 different types of control pads for each of my consoles. Like I mentioned, the Controller S is much smaller then the original XBox pad. Despite being smaller, it still features all the same buttons and features as the original pad. You get 2 analog sticks which can be pressed in as extra buttons, 1 digital D pad, 6 action buttons on the face, 2 L and R shift buttons on the rear of the controller and a back and start button on the face. Also featured are a built in rumble feature, 2 expansion slots for memory cards and other peripherals and a break away cord to avoid any unfortunate tripping over the cord accidents. The quality of the Controller S is second to none. Its built very sturdy and feels as if it was really built to last. Like I mentioned before, the 6 action buttons on the face of the controller are spaced out much better then before. This is great for avoiding accidental button presses. The L and R shift buttons also now have a much loser and better feel to them from the rather stiff feeling ones found on the original pad. This seems to make racing titles a little easier on the fingers if you happen to have the gas and brake configured to them. Finally the digital D pad itself feels far better then the originals. It has a far more precise feel to it that will be welcome once Capcom decides to port over some of its popular fighting games. I tried the Controller S with quite a few XBox titles of mines and to my surprise, it out performed the original pad in every game. With the 2 Tony Hawk titles, I found myself doing better then ever before. In fact, the control felt better for the game then even the standard Playstation controller in which the control scheme was designed around. Next up was Halo. This one took me a little longer to adjust to then Tony Hawk but within 5 minutes I felt right at home and felt more in control then ever. Some of the other titles I tried were Azurik, Rallisport Challenge, SSX Tri cky, DOA 3 and Morrowind. Like I mentioned earlier, the Controller S was better on everything. Now, the Controller S is not without its flaws. In my opinion, there's only 2 flaws which i've found so far. Those flaws are the placement of both the Black and White action buttons and the Back and Start buttons. The Black and White buttons are now placed just below the A, B, X, Y keys instead of more towards the top of the pad like before. They seem a little awkward to hit on the fly and may be a problem if your playing a title that requires frequent presses of them. So far though, I haven't really had any kind of problems with them. As for the Start and Back buttons, its much the same story. These keys were taken from the center of the pad and moved over to just below the left analog stick. They seem a little awkward to hit on the fly. However, these shouldn't really be too much of a problem where they are since these 2 keys aren't really used too much in any title. These are mostly used for either selecting options in menus or calling up pause or status screens in games. Overall, i'd highly recommend the Controller S to anyone that owns a XBox. You can pick one up for around $30-40 at most stores and its well worth the cost. No, its not perfect but the Controller S is now my second favorite control pad of all time right below the ultra perfect Saturn pad. Great Job Microsoft.