Lunchtime Discussion: Controllers

The end of the year is a time for reflection. Something I was doing a lot of yesterday after becoming the second staffer to have their PS3 die this December.  Before deciding that I couldn’t go without a PS3 until the end of January, and as a result making my credit card company very happy, I was contemplating spending a lot more time cradling my 360’s controller in my hands and reflecting on its differences compared to my Dual Shock 3.

360 ControllerOn the 360’s controller one thing (the only thing?) Microsoft got right was the triggers.  Larger triggers, a concave profile, more travel and more progressive resistance make them far superior to Sony’s L2 and R2 triggers in my opinion.  Microsoft’s D-pad implementation is shockingly bad for a control mechanism that has been almost universally present since Nintendo gave us the Donkey Kong Game & Watch back in 1982.

There was the alleged improved D-pad on the limited edition PES 2009 Xbox controllers but I have never seen conclusive evidence that those D-pads were better.  Certainly the D-pad on the controller that came with the Elite I bought a few months back is no better than the one I’ve had since a few months after the 360’s UK launch.  Personally I also dislike the offset analogue stick layout.  Strangely that does not bother me on my, still in use, GameCube controllers, possibly because fewer of my GC games require much twin-stick action.  Perhaps tellingly, Nintendo have gone for a symmetrical stick layout for their Wii Classic controller.


Dual Shock 3Needless to say the SixAxis/Dual Shock scores its first point over the 360 in my eyes by having the symmetrical analogue stick layout.  Its next win comes courtesy of the D-pad.  Sony got that right on the original PlayStation controller and it remains a dependable set of buttons to this day.

As noted above, and for those reasons, I find L2 & R2 to be inferior to the 360’s triggers.  (I have tried clip-on L2 & R2 extentions that give them a concave profile but do not get on with them.)  Other preferences are for the included rechargeable battery, saving me buying another accessory, and the general lightness of Sony’s controller.

Because as gamers we spend so much time holding controllers we tend not to have feelings of ambivalence towards them and, like Marmite, have definite preferences.  So how do you feel about the ‘competing’ controllers from Sony and Microsoft?