Why I Love My 360 Controller

Ok having played a few of the games now I’m ready to start analysing the Playstation 3 controller pad.

I’ve never owned a PS 2 console so I don’t have a reference to work from and you can correct me if I am wrong here but from my viewpoint the PS3 controller doesn’t seem to have changed a great deal?

The first major difference you find when you put down your 360 pad and pick up the PS3 one is in its weight. Now much of the 360 weight is made up of the battery pack but actually I reckon the weight is about right for serious use. Not too heavy but it does give you the sense of holding something purposeful in your hands.

The Playstation 3 controller is incredibly light and appears almost insignificant when you hold it. If you imagine holding just the plastic shell of a controller with no workings then that is how this feels. The battery is a small lithium-ion affair tucked away inside with the motion control gubbins. The overall feeling when coupled with the lack of weight is one of ‘cheapness’ now I know that sounds like sour grapes but it’s actually just an inner impression when you compare these two pads side by side.

My next major gripe is with the position of the sticks. Who came up with that thumb achingly awkward angle with them both positioned at the bottom centre of the pad? I got joint ache trying to reach across the pad to each stick and found the position of your thumb to be very un-natural. It made it tiring to use the left ‘motion’ stick as you are forced to move the whole thumb joint from the base unlike the 360 controller which needs just the upper joint movement to translate into game play motion.

Take a look at those analogue sticks; you can clearly see that the top of the stick is a convex (domed) shape. For me this was a real pain. Due to the angle you put your thumb at in order to utilise the stick you get contact at the side of your thumb and not the tip with the consequence that your thumb slips off the stick because of the shape when you get a bit frantic on some games! Now take a peek at your 360 controller sticks. Spot the difference? Yes the control stick has a concave (dished) surface into which your thumb tip rests and efficient contact can be maintained with ease at any playing angle! No thumb slippage at all. Chalk up another point for the 360 pad right there.

Firstly it’s pretty small and worse than that for me in the seminal launch shooter Resistance you don’t actually use it to fire your weapons! The ‘trigger’ in Resistance is the more awkward upper button. The actual trigger button itself is hinged a little back into the case and the throw/action just doesn’t feel like a trigger button at all. Now take a look at the shape of the trigger. It’s convex again like the stick; compare that with your 360 trigger. Spot the difference once again? The reason triggers are shaped, well, like triggers is to maintain constant contact with your finger despite the changing angle of force applied as you pull it. The PS3 trigger actually encourages your finger to slide right off the end as you pull it, I know, I’ve done it.

The lack of a rumble feature is a shame for PS3 owners as it is surprising how much it adds to the feedback you get from a game. You don’t realise as much though until you haven’t got it. The limited use of the motion control I have had so far seems ok and I don’t think it will be too long before we get some form of motion system for the Xbox 360. With both the Wii and PS3 incorporating it I think it will be tough for Microsoft to ignore the competition in this respect.

I was very confused with the button layout initially as I tried to get my head around circle/square/cross/triangle face buttons and found the X,Y,A,B coloured buttons much easier on the 360 but this is mainly down to my familiarity with the 360’s pad of course. Given time no doubt I would adjust to the face button designations of the PS3 but it’s not the easiest naming convention I’ve ever had to commit to memory!

In summary then these all seem fairly minor personal niggles, but if I had a 360 controller that worked on a PS3 I’d happily play more games on it, that’s just how good the Microsoft controller is. Despite all the hoopla about who has the better graphics, fastest processor etc. in the end you play games on your console and the control pad is your primary interface with the system. It therefore needs to be comfortable to hold for extended periods, accurate and responsive. For me the Playstation 3 controller doesn’t compare in terms of use and ergonomic design. This skirmish was a definite ‘win’ for the Xbox 360.