PS3’s DualShock 3 Controller Unboxed

An old familiar friend makes its triumphant return.


When we first heard

Sony’s PlayStation 3 was debuting with motion controls instead of rumble, we

nearly broke down in man tears. The SIXAXIS controller bites, and it bites hard.

Not only do a limited number of PS3 games use the motion controls, but when

they’re actually implemented, the game usually becomes an exercise in

frustration (we’re looking at you Lair, and your demon

dragons that go where we don’t want them to go!). That’s why when Sony finally

settled its five-year-long lawsuit with Immersion, the brains behind

force-feedback technology, we were anxiously counting down the days till the

PlayStation’s revered DualShock controller made its long-awaited return from the

dead.

And finally, the day has come—at least for some. Japan

got first dibs on the new DualShock 3 controller on November 11, but Americans

won’t be able to get their hands on it until Spring 2008. But we got one. And

take our word—it’s sweeeeeeet.

If you’ve been playing with a

PlayStation 3 SIXAXIS controller for a few months, you will feel right at home

with the DualShock 3—there’s really not that much difference between the two in

terms of size dimensions and button layout. The D-pad is still on the

upper-left-hand side of the controller and the two analog sticks are still

positioned parallel from each other on the bottom half. We would have preferred

to have the D-pad and the left analog switch positions, which would really help

with aiming in first-person shooters like Resistance.

There are some noticeable differences from the SIXAXIS,

however. The new ceramic white color of the DualShock 3 (also available in

original black) makes the controller look sleeker and prettier (too bad a

matching ceramic white PS3 is only being released in Japan for the foreseeable

future). There is also a considerable amount of extra weight to the new design,

due to the addition of the DualShock motors—that’s a good thing. We’re very

pleased with how the new controller drops in our hands, and it doesn’t feel like

it’s made from cheap plastic (even though it says “made in China”), which was

one of the major faults of the SIXAXIS’ design.

As for how

the controller performs, we’ve heard rumblings (pun intended!) that the feedback

of the DualShock 3 was a bit different than its PS2 predecessor. We tried out

several games and took notes:

Gran Turismo 5

Prologue Demo (available at the Japanese PlayStation

store)
We took one of the Nissan Skylines out for a spin around the

track and were pleasantly surprised to feel how polished the rumble was in the

game. On straightaways, our hands were greeted by the soft purring of the car’s

engine. On turns, the rumble softened as the brakes were applied, and ramped up

as we accelerated into the next track section. Overall, the controller feedback

was accurate with what was going on in the game, and the vibrations felt more

refined than our previous experiences with rumble in the Gran

Turismo
series.

Uncharted: Drake’s

Fortune

The game play for Uncharted,

one of our favorite games, only gets better with the inclusion of

force-feedback. Each gun has its own specific rumble—a handgun produces short

bursts, while a grenade will create a considerable shake. When blowing up

barrels of dynamite, your controller emits a vibration that’s dependent on where

you are standing. If you’re near the explosion, the controller goes crazy. If

you’re sniping from far away, you won’t feel anything. Again, the controller

reacts well with the game play on the screen.

Ratchet & Clank Future: Tools of

Destruction

The thing you’ll notice is that each one of

Ratchet’s weapons has a different rumble. For example, the Alpha Cannon produces

a soft vibration when loading up the gun and a substantial rumble when the round

is fired. Ratchet’s wrench pound is even more awesome to execute now that your

controller doesn’t just sit in your hands limp and silent.

Our Take
The

award-winning DualShock controller is back, and it has brought its ugly sister,

SIXAXIS, with it. We’re glad Sony finally settled their lawsuit and, though it’s

not really a step forward at all in game technology, our imported controller

looks and feels great. The hardware developers put enough meat on the new design

to give the controller a better presence in players’ hands. While rumble was

added to some games with the release of the PS3’s 2.00 firmware update, it

doesn’t feel like it has been just tacked on. We expect, and have been told

that, DualShock 3 will work with all PS3 and most PS2 games sometime in the near

future. Till then, we’re glad you’re back, DS—we’ve missed you.

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Maxim Staff