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E3 2006
E3 Hands On: The PlayStation 3 Control
By Cyril Lachel     |   Posted on May 11, 2006   |   Episode 16 (Show Archive)  

   

Aren't you glad Sony decided against this PS3 control? Yeah, me too!
A lot has been said about Nintendo's Wii control, it's unique, innovative, and supposedly going to change the way we play games. This is all good and all, but it's not the only new control at this year's E3. Sony also featured a new control, their PlayStation 3 control that appears to be nothing more than your regular PS2 control with this crazy tilt functionality. But how is it? To answer this question I decided to give the control a day in court and see if it lives up to the PS1 and PS2's popular controllers.

The first thing you will notice is how light the new PS3 pad is, it weighs about half of what the standard PS2 controls weighed, which makes it feel both good and flimsy at the exact same time. But beyond the weight, the control feels comfortable and works exactly like it should. The buttons are in a good spot, the analog sticks are fine, and the D-Pad is exactly as you remember it.

Actually, the only real difference here is the shoulder buttons. The L2 and R2 buttons can be pushed in further than any of the other Sony systems, giving the new PS3 pad a couple of trigger buttons, a la the Xbox and Xbox 360 controls. These buttons worked a lot better in this design and I can see how this will be used for games like Gran Turismo and other racers.

Along with the new shoulder buttons you will also see a brand new PS button in the middle of the control. Sony wouldn't say what this was for, but one can only assume it will act like the Xbox 360's guide button, perhaps you will be able to check to see who is online or change the music. This seems pretty obvious to me, but Sony just wasn't going to spill the beans.

The last new "enhancement" to the PlayStation 3's control is the ability to tilt the device to affect game play. There was really only one game on the show floor that used this function, so I was not able to use this feature as much as I would have hoped. Instead I used it on the Warhawk sequel, a game I was looking forward to ever since last year's E3. Unfortunately I don't think Warhawk was the best use of this enhancement, as it actually made the game quite a bit harder to control.

The concept is pretty simple; you turn the control one direction to turn your airplane. You can also pull the control back a little to aim up (or pull it forward to aim down). On paper this isn't a terrible idea, but the way it was implemented left something to be desired. Perhaps it had more to do with the game's settings (and the fact that I wasn't used to it), but it left me with an unsettling feeling.

Thankfully Sony's rep mentioned that you could turn that function on or off. You will also be able to adjust the sensitivity in a number of different ways, all of which are supposed to make this a better experience. But on the default settings it came off as difficult and kind of lame. That doesn't mean companies won't find ways of making the control do some unique things, but in its early state it's hard to be impressed with this function.

But How Good is It? Overall the PlayStation 3 controller feels good, it is just as comfortable as the PS2 control and offers a few added features that could be really cool. It also features the motion tilt stuff, which didn't blow me away like Sony hoped it would. Instead I found a device that has a gimmick that will likely go unused by first and third parties alike. I think a lot of gamers are going to like the familiar feel of the control, but Sony didn't re-invent the wheel or anything else dramatic. Instead we get a solid control that has a few quirks I hope are worked out before it's released this November.

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