Several months ago, I was in the market for a new gaming controller for my computer after purchasing Street Fighter IV via Steam and receiving Burnout Paradise as a gift (thanks Roy!). Now, I probably could have gotten by with using the keyboard for a driving game but I’ve been scarred for life trying to play a beat-em-up on one.
In the past, I did use a USB Microsoft Sidewinder controller which was not too bad at all (and I think an inspiration for the design of future Xbox controllers) and before that one of the first six button gamepads (generic brand) that used the old gameport socket back in 1995. I won’t dwell on my experiences too much with the gameport but in a nutshell I found it extremely finicky.
Anyway, coming back to recent times, I faced the dilemma of finding a suitable game controller. I wasn’t looking to drop hundreds of dollars but was keen to go wireless to reduce the amount of clutter on my desk. Having owned an original Xbox, I warmed to the idea of using an Xbox 360 Wireless Controller for Windows. Although finding one was very difficult at the time, I’ve noticed lately that game stores are now regularly stocking them as well as Dick Smith Electronics.
So what does it look like?
If you’re familiar with the Xbox 360 control you won’t find anything too surprising here. What is handy is that you can use this with both the Xbox 360 and a Windows PC which could a plus for those looking to save some cash and get some consistency across their gaming platforms.
The ergonomics of the control are not too bad and the analogue triggers upon the top in addition to the two analogue thumbsticks affords careful precision that would be difficult to emulate on a keyboard or digital buttons. The force feedback is also a welcome addition and it does pack a fairly good punch without significantly draining battery life.
Speaking of battery life, the Xbox 360 Wireless Controller for Windows also switches itself off when you have stopped using it which is useful for those that are forgetful. I have a bunch of USBCell rechargeable batteries on hand so downtime is fairly minimal. There are other charging solutions available such as the “charge and play accessory” that will recharge the batteries whilst letting you use the control but I chose to forgo this option.
The wireless receiver is fairly standard for what it does and has a single button on the top to initiate the pairing process. One thing to note is that each receiver and handle up to four wireless controllers it is up to the task of some serious local multiplayer action.
On the whole, I’m quite happy with this controller and I have yet to break it when playing Street Fighter IV. Whilst not rock solid, it feel sturdy enough to take punishment from most gamers. Whilst it won’t be getting some action with first person shooters (like Counter-strike and Team Fortress 2 where I do prefer a gaming keyboard and mouse) it still has a worthy time and place in my gaming arsenal.
I give this a solid 9.5 out of 10.