PC Gaming Controllers

As far as I’m concerned, when it comes to game pad designs, PC takes a backseat to consoles.  Consoles whose main function is to specifically play games almost always have a well refined and intuitive first party controller whereas PC gamers are subjected to a myriad of third party alternatives that leave much to be desired.  Many third party companies will attempt to cash in on the success of a particular product by creating a sub standard replica.  Now I’m not saying that they’re all bad, Madcatz and Logitech generally release high quality products except that they’re usually quite expensive.  I’m a casual PC gamer and currently own three game pads which I will be reviewing.

Contender #01 – Genius MaxFire G-08XU

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In my experience with Genius, their products are generally well constructed and offer a very decent price/quality ratio falling under the entry level category.  The Genius MaxFire (I’m curious as to why it was named so) was the first controller that I purchased as the prospect of playing Guilty Gear with a keyboard didn’t really appeal to me.  It uses a standard USB interface, has 8-way directional control as well as 8 fully programmable fire buttons which according to Genius-Europe “supply maximum fire power”.  The first and most notable problem with this pad is the lack of a standard start/select button which hampers its performance quite a bit as you are forced to sacrifice two of the buttons (I usually opt for the back shoulder buttons) for start/select, a function that is required for almost every game in existence.  The second problem is a lack of any kind of analog stick (widely used in modern games) and finally the circular D-pad leaves much to be desired.

Would I recommend this product?

No, It simply doesn’t have the necessary features required for a hardcore PC gamer or even a casual gamer although it is pretty cheap and perhaps would be better suited to retro game emulation as opposed to modern games.

Price: R49 (4USD)

Contender #02 – iSonic IS-GPAD2 Dual Shock Controller

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The next controller I purchased was the iSonic IS-GPAD2 with dual shock functionality.  This pad is basically a complete replica of the classic PlayStation game pad design and if you’re a PS veteran you should be quite comfortable using this pad.  It feels great in the hands comprising of a comfortable rubber coating, has all the buttons of a regular PlayStation pad plus an additional ‘auto reset’ button (clear) as well as two analog sticks.  It also has a decent enough cable length of 1.8 metres.  What I don’t like about this controller is the large iSonic logo on the front that creates a protruding circular arc on the top of the pad and the blue colour is awful.  The worst thing about this pad is that after a couple months the buttons start to stick and this is a huge problem (the D-pad isn’t that great either), especially for fast-paced games like beat-’em-ups or driving games.  It becomes extremely frustrating when you die/crash/lose in a game not because you were lacking in skill but because your hardware is poorly designed.  I have no problems with a company creating a replica of an existing successful product but when it doesn’t match or improve upon the original, then it shouldn’t be released.

Would I recommend this product?

Yes and no.  In the short-term, it’s a great pad offering all the benefits of a PS2 controller but in the long-term it lacks in performance as the D-pad is inferior to the PlayStation’s and the button sticking really becomes infuriating, sure I could unscrew the pad and rectify the problem but I never had to do that with my PlayStation and PlayStation 2 so why should I have to?

Price: R99 (12USD)

Contender #03 – Microsoft Xbox 360 Controller for Windows

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I’ve been after one of these ever since I first read about them and eventually I purchased one of the wired variants.  I hate wireless peripherals, always have even though they’re all the rage I always found the need to recharge them a nuisance as well as having to worry about the pitfalls of signal interference to be infuriating, so call me old-fashioned (Nintendo generation) I opted for the trusty wired controller.  The Xbox controller for Windows supports vibration feedback, sports two analog sticks curiously placed in my opinion, they’re identical but located diagonally from one another.  I suppose the designers tried to break the ‘PlayStation Mould” and opted for something different.  The pad is made from quality plastic and is ergonomically designed sitting comfortably in ones hands.  The Xbox Guide button located in the centre of the pad has no function with Windows.  It also features expansion ports enabling you to connect to a Xbox 360 headset and also has a 2.5mm audio connector and other connectors for additional devices.  It has two shoulder buttons and two triggers located on the top of the pad, start and select (back) buttons, a circular D-pad and four function buttons labeled X, Y, B and A (diagram featured below).

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Another nifty feature of this pad is that apart from having a long, flexible cable, it also has an inline release on the cord as a safety precaution to reduce the chance of your Xbox console or PC falling when the cable is pulled.

The inline release, pictured below.

Inline-ReleaseImportant to note: before plugging in the controller, it’s very important that you install the software (supplied on CD) before attempting to use it otherwise it will not function correctly.

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Would I recommend this product?

Most definitely.  In my opinion this is the definitive controller for PC and although a bit on the expensive side, it’s well worth it as not only is it extremely functional, it’s durable and comfortable.   Another advantage of this pad is that as more and more Xbox games are converted for PC, the jump from console to computer is painless as generally the games (like Devil May Cry 4, Street Fighter 4 and so on) are optimized for the controller.

Price: R419 (51USD)

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