Life with Aberdeen on the 360

The new Xbox 360 controller, codenamed ‘Aberdeen’, is out now. I’ve had a bit of time with one and while there isn’t a lot of difference between this and the standard controller, the new D-Pad does make a difference.


The new D-Pad might be the headline feature but there’s something to be said about the styling differences too. Gone are the garish colours of the face buttons, replaced with a subdued palette of greys. It looks classy, which is an odd thing to say about a controller. The brushed silver finish accentuates the darker input buttons and sticks (which are also very slightly different) too.

The seemingly endless and largely futile debate about whether the 360 or PS3 controller is better may still be raging but I’ve always been firmly on the side of the PS3 controller. It has always felt like it has a little better build quality than its Microsoft counterpart and the more subtle styling has always appealed to me. I much prefer the sticks and triggers on the 360 pad but the D-Pad and feeling of the face buttons have always felt better on the PS3 controllers. The Aberdeen pad goes some way to addressing those disparities.

So, putting the differences in styling aside for a moment, the sticks have been altered very slightly. They are still concave but the four directional dots that stand out on the traditional sticks are gone. Their replacement is a slightly deeper concave thumb rest and a tiny ridge that runs the whole circumference of it.

[drop]The D-Pad, though, is the biggest change. In its default position it feels almost identical to the old style D-Pad but a quick quarter turn in either way lowers the surrounding quadrants around the central cross shape and gives you much more traction. It’s a very minor difference. The movement is still slightly more ‘floaty’ than I would like although it is a little easier to direct, perhaps less ‘spongy’.

I tried the new D-Pad is a wide variety of situations and its usefulness ranged from negligible (selecting visor, explosives in Crysis 2) to mildly useful (directing players in Sensible Soccer from XBLA). Would I recommend it? Yes, if you need new (Play and Charge kit only) controllers then why not go for this one? If you’re thinking it’s worth the outlay just to replace your existing controllers, though, you’re not likely to find enough of a difference to warrant the expense.



  1. I was kinda surprised my new Xbox slim didn’t come with one of these. I tried twisting the d-pad for ages… =(

  2. I need a new controller for my 360 so will give this a whirl. I totally agree with the author of the article re: the PS3/360 controller argument.

    I love the weight and the analogues on the 360 controller but the D-pad is horrible and the face buttons look like an ADHD kid has stuck skittles to the pad.

    • Unfortunately they don’t taste like skittles

  3. So the new D-Pad is still crap then? I don’t know why they can’t take a hint and make them split buttons like the PS3 controller, with which I have never had a miscued D-Pad input.

    The Xbox controller ‘fits’ my hand better, but even though I have big hands I still prefer smaller mice as opposed to onces that conform and fill your whole hand. The same is true of the Dualshock 3, I feel like I can hold it more ‘delicately’ and not having to death grip its heft means I’m lighter on the sticks.

    I bought $4 triggers that clip onto my dualshock 3 (making it like the Xbox triggers) and they feel great now.

  4. how did it take them 5 years to replace that terrible dpad?

    try playing oblivion or fallout with that pad and selecting the quickslot items, half the time you’ll end up selecting the wrong thing, if you’re lucky it wont get you killed or waste your last potion of medkit, or whatever they were called in fallout.

    • by “that pad” i mean the standard dpad they’ve had for five years.

    • one more thing, i’ve always disliked the fact that the xbox pads aren’t symmetrical.
      i know they say that having the analog stick higher is a better position, i haven’t had a problem with either personally, but if that’s what ms believed, why put one higher and keep the other one lower.
      it’s like they believed that, but not completely, either that or they just copied the gamecube layout.

      i’d like to see an xbox pad with both sticks higher, or both lower, i’m good either way, just make them match.

    • I’d imagine the d-pad is crap for something like Pac Man Championship Edition DX as well then.

  5. So the question is, through all the improvements does it still feel like a ‘fisher price’ pad? I still love my PS3 of course, but the Xbox pads are the only reason I was put off of getting an Xbox.

    • It’s still exactly the same size and dimensions. Build quality feels the same too (good, just not as good as the Dualshocks).
      Seriously though, you get used to the feel of a new pad within a few days and there is a lot about the Xbox 360 controllers that is likely to end up being preferred over the PS3 ones.

      • Yeah, i dunno what it is about them apart from feeling a bit ‘plastic’y’ (if that makes sense), but i have just never gotten on with them personally.
        I do prefer their triggers though as L2/R2 on the PS3 dualshocks always tend to feel a bit ‘loose’ (again, if that makes sense!).
        Thanks for the response though cb.

  6. What kinda codename is Aberdeen? Does it come with a free Angus burger?

    The new PS3 pad is codenamed Stranraer, it’s got nothing interesting about it whatsoever.

  7. Least the ‘green crowd’ can enjoy games like Street Fighter without their pads ending up sticking out of a severely damaged HDTV….

  8. Least the ‘green crowd’ can enjoy games like Street Fighter without their pads ending up sticking out of a severely damaged HDTV….

    • Also – Great Pads Ever….

      1. DS3
      2. Snes Pad
      3. Gamecube Pad.

      That is all.

      • I’m glad someone else likes the Gamecube pad, apart from the Z shoulder button, that baby was a comfortable little bugger!

  9. I’m getting a 360 in a few weeks, I’ve decided. I’m surprised the slim doesn’t come with this, it seems a bit of an insult to make a better official controler then tell your customers you have to pay extra for it. I also wonder why it’s silver, when there is no silver console for it to go with! That would annoy me.

    Personally I’ve never had a problem with the pad for 360 or PS3, I prefer the PS3 one because it sits better in my hands and whereas the 360 oned feel like they’re commiting hand rape. But the analogue possition of either doesn’t bother me.

    • “it seems a bit of an insult to make a better official controler then tell your customers you have to pay extra for it”
      I personally think that sounds just like Microsoft from what i have seen – Everything is an add on/sold seperately isn’t it?

  10. “Kinect! You are the controller! It’s the future of gaming! But in the (highly likely) event that we’re wrong, here’s a new proper controller. Y’know, just in case, like.”

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