Reader Reviews: New Xbox 360 Controller

I've always loved the Xbox 360 controller, but I have to confess that I haven't had the chance to check out the new one. Justin Robson has though, and has written this review. Is this our first reader review of a controller?

And thanks to Madman entertainment, the best reader review we publish each month will win a prize pack containing ten of the latest Madman DVD releases.

Loved Quality: I had no complaints about the 360 controller to begin with, Sony need to take note. Unless you have square robot hands and tiny little girl thumbs, the 360 controller is light years ahead of Sony’s Dual Shock 3 in both build quality and design. (Don’t kill me PS3 fans, I’ve owned both consoles for years and this is my honest opinion). The redesign seems to have tightened everything, the trigger motion feels smoother, the D-pad has been overhauled, the matte finish feels much better and overall it feels very sturdy in the hands, with no more creaks when you grip it too hard.

The D-Pad: If you’re not a fan of the 360 controller’s marshmallowy D-pad, this new controller is for you. With a twist you can change the directional pad from basically what it was on the old controller to something with a bit more precision. In the plus shaped position, there’s a nice firm click when you press each direction and it feels raised up just enough to add a layer of control that previously wasn’t there. I don’t play fighters myself, but I have a feeling this change might fix the issues fans of the genre had with the old D-pad.

The thumbsticks: on the whole they feel a lot more accurate and tight, with none of that rattle that plagues more well used controllers (though only time and wear and tear will tell if it stays that way), but the new grip is what really sets them apart. Gone are the four raised dots, which have been replaced with a much nicer feeling circular grip, featuring an ever so slightly more concave centre.

New look all together: What can I say, it’s shiny! It’s not the kind of Mad Catz cheap plasticy silver, but a tasteful matte finish, with black and chrome trimmings. The face buttons are no longer the colourful SNES style we’re used to, but rather different shades of grey… this might confuse some who are new to the 360, as the colour of the button won’t correspond with what comes up on screen, but for those of us who’s hands feel more natural holding a 360 controller than they do without, it’s a subtle but welcome touch.

Hated Price: I saw it on the shelf and grabbed it… wasn’t thinking and I learned my lesson, but I do like it a lot otherwise. Apparently it’s only available with the play and charge kit, so if you’re lazy like me and prefer to just bang in some fresh AA’s when the controller goes dead, you may find you’ve payed for an accessory that won’t get used all that often.

Battery pack still a little intrusive: Yeah you don’t notice it while you’re playing mostly, but it would have been nice if it were more streamlined in this regard. Still, the ability to use AA batteries puts it even further ahead of the PS3 controller in my opinion. Very convenient when you can’t be bothered plugging in.

The new controller is like - I don’t know - an espresso machine. You don’t need it, but it’s damn nice to have. If you’re in need of a new controller, I’d seriously recommend this for the subtle improvements.

Has anyone here played with the new Xbox controller? And what is your favourite controller of all time - let us know in the comments below.


Comments

    I gotta agree, the 360 controller is far easier on my hands than the PS3. These things look really nice, but the decision not to put any colour on the buttons seems like an absolutely obvious design flaw. Why not just put the letter itself in the colour? Surely that would tone down the colour enough to go with the minimalist design, but still retain a large part of what the 360 interface uses to communicate.

    Oh and in the US, my version of the SNES didn't have coloured buttons :P Two dark purple, two light. Always thought the European/Australian one looked really funny. The consoles look totally different too.

      Don't forget the Super Famicom:

      http://www.supernes.de/upload/image/specials/super-famicom.jpg

    xbot.

      Lol typical fan boi, no counter argument just name calling. :)

      I use the cross battle adaptor on my PS3. It allows me to use the 360 wired controller on the PS3. Makes FPS games like Killzone far more enjoyable using the better controller.

        Oh is that what that means?

        I am hardly a fan boy. I have all 3 consoles and just finished HL2 on a PC. I just have hands that don't fit the PS3 controller very well, not sure how that qualifies me as a fanboy. Maybe my fanboy parents genetically engineered me to have long fingers so the smaller PS3 controller wouldn't be as comfortable!

        And maybe he's talking about the author... but... the author is reviewing a 360 controller. Right?

          I meant the xbot comment from shamona

      I quickly approved this comment without checking the context - my bad.

      Sharmona - we'd rather not have any of those kinds of comments here please.

      Mark

        Pardon my ignorance, but what's so offensive about the guys comment?

          Xbot is slang for a mindless Microsoft fanboy (which no one here is).

          But before I googled that definition, I honestly thought it was a reference to the controller's sleek, metallic design.

            Ah..I thought as much. I actually Googled it too, but...ahha, the old Urban Dictionary says as much! Cheers for clearing that one up. Well, that's just plan rude then Sharmona. Tsk tsk.

        Marc, that's a little harsh considering this quote from the article

        "Unless you have square robot hands and tiny little girl thumbs, the 360 controller is light years ahead of Sony’s Dual Shock 3 in both build quality and design"

        as sharmona said, xbot, plain and simple, if he wasnt he would have just said "i prefer", but no.

        maybe you should have a chat with the author...
        oh i see...

          Maybe you should get Marc's name right. Considering it's on every Aussie article in this website and also right above your post.

    AA batteries makes it even further ahead of the PS3 controller?? Er... cos charging controllers (especially when you have more than 1) is such a hard thing to do?

    If so, I look forward to the future of mobile phones and laptops which run on AAs too... that'll make them even better than the pesky ones these days that have to be 'charged'. *rolleyes*

    Other than that, the controller looks sexy, especially the d-pad

    I've never been able to get used to the asymmetrical sticks, I never really saw a reason for that (although I only play x-box at mates, maybe with more exposure I'd get used to it).
    And personally I've always found the fact I don't need to keep buying batteries for my controllers a definite positive.

      Im with you. Assymmetical thumbsticks=negative. If you use left for movement, right for pan/cemera, its always going to distributing pressure unevenly. Which leads to torsion. Not unmanageable, but just poor engineering. Preset analogue triggers for trigger on a shooter= negative. There should be a certifiable 'clicking' point where you are going from 'not shooting' to 'shooting', a yes or no- not a myriad of shades of grey kind-ofs in between. Good for accelerrating, awful for shooting.

      Ive never preferred any Xbox controllers for these reasons. Having said that, this is certainly an improvement within their proprietary design. Very nice, clean minimalist design- walks all over the terrible Reach and Fable 3 editions. Kevin McCloud would approve. Tho I too am unsure as to why there is no colour on the action buttons, X is even unrecognisable. I prefer these thumbstick divots to the 'old', the transforming D-pad is 200% better than Old Slidy. Pricewise- as Colby Hanks said- THEY ARE GENERALLY THE SAME PRICE AS STANDARD CONTROLLER/PLAY&CHARGE BUNDLE. As in saving $10 minimum over separate purchases. Or buying AA batts every 2 weeks for that matter.

      For the record, Gamecube controllers are still my favourite (and Wavebirds lead within that subset).

        I've got to disagree with you on those two points being negatives... firstly asymmetrical thumbsticks were a godsend in my opinion. Firstly, the left trigger is exactly where your thumb goes naturally. I find I have to reach with the PS3 controller, and that they're so close that my thumbs touch in the middle. (I have pretty long thumbs though, don't get me wrong) and secondly on a modern console, a four way directional pad should not be in the main spot. I think the asymmetry also helps because on one side you've got the stick, and on the other you have the face buttons. It lines up.

        Also, about the triggers... I love the fact that they're smooth all the way through. The PS3 triggers are a joke the way that you hit a pressure bump halfway through... And also with shooting, generally if you're playing a fast paced game, you'll either be holding the trigger down completely or letting it go. You don't really have time to find the sweet spot, you'd be shooting at things a second after they're gone.

        I say again, I've used both controllers for a very long time, I have far more issue with the PS3's design than the 360's. And you've got to remember the layout of the PS3 controller was designed in the early-mid nineties... games were a lot more single thumbstick oriented then.

          "firstly asymmetrical thumbsticks were a godsend in my opinion. Firstly, the left trigger is exactly where your thumb goes naturally."

          Two firstlys... and I meant "left THUMBSTICK" not trigger... gah, I have to proof read my comments.

    Picked one of these new controllers up last week and yeah, the differences ARE subtle, but mostly for the better.

    Also I don't think the price is THAT bad... I paid $99 @ JB, which is the same as a controller + play and charge kit anyway.

    Wanna check that Dpad out, always prefered the Sony D and went 360 this generation.

    The 360 controller is the most comfortable controller I've ever held (2nd place is Gamecube) but I don't get the hate for the PS3 controller, I'm able to use it quite comfortably.

    I want this new 360 controller but the price is a complete turnoff so until it gets cheaper I'll stick to the standard version.

    I'm writing a review for a charge cable.

      Okay, written a 932 word charge cable review. Adding pictures and forwarding now.

    I don't know how they got the d-pad so bad in the first place. I bought a fight-pad which is great, why can't they just put one of those pads in?

    So all the new silver ones had this new design?

    Seen them online for $68 with the Play & Charge kit, might get one.

    I need a new 360 controller, the thumbsticks on both of mine are shedding layers making them even more uncomfortable than usual.
    Was thinking of getting one of the Fable ones because they're pretty, didn't even realise these were available here yet.

    I disagree about the need for batteries making it better than the PS3s though, it's extra unnecessary cost. Why wouldn't you want to plug it in, especially in this age of laptops; they're usually right next to you so you can plug the controllers in without having to get up and go to the console.

    Also I don't think comparing it to a PS3 controller was constructive in a review of a 360 controller, it's a bit irrelevant. That kind of comparison is just asking for a flamewar.

    "Still, the ability to use AA batteries puts it even further ahead of the PS3 controller in my opinion."

    ...Paying for new batteries whenever they die makes it better than a built-in battery that you need to charge at times? What?

    That aside, while this does sound like an improvement, I'm holding out for Razer's Ozna.

      And also @Gobbo

      Yes, I think the fact that you can use AA batteries puts it ahead of the PS3 controller - among many other things. It isn't like a phone that you put in your pocket, that would be pretty hilarious... it's just a convenience thing, and having to plug in my PS3 controller every eight hours of gameplay with a mini USB cord... that won't even work on my USB charger... is just annoying. I like the choice, sue me, lol.

    I'm confused now, are reviews still meant to be under 300 words? This one isn't I don't think.

    I've made a lot of references to Gustav Klimt, Ninjas and boyscouts that I don't want to cut out.

      500 now... but I always go over ;)

    I think it's all in the size of the hands and, as the author so succinctly put it, the length of your fingers. I have small, womanish hands, so the ps3 controller is fine with me. That being said, I do prefer the spacing between the shoulder triggers on the xbox.

    Are you serious? The new 360 controller is better than the PS3 controller because it has AA batteries instead of a rechargeable battery? Are you kidding? Do you really like buying new AA batteries? Get a grip!

    Speaking of which Ive used a the 360 controller before and its too small for an adult. Its kinda like clasping your hands together...

    Clearly controllers are a matter of personal preference. Neither ps3 or 360 controllers are perfect, IMO they both need to be able to be varied/altered on the fly in the interests of comfort.

      Mmhm, read the rest of the review Batty. I could give a hundred reasons why the 360 controller is far, far, far (yep, three fars) better than the PS3's.

    The 360 controller is fay superior in terms of layout that the PS3. I love the feel of holding a 360 controller as opposed to a PS3.
    But each have their own disadvantages.
    It seems MS and Sony each think they're perfect and don't really fix what a lot of fans and gamers want.

    The Xbox has the D-Pad issue mainly, it seems there improving it as they go. The controller looks good but they should just make this standard which really is the issue. Why make it a limited run - fix the problem altogether!!!

    The 360 also has the battery pack problem - I find they're cheaply made and the battery packs die fairly quickly, within 12 months I've found. They ship WITH AA battery pack and the rechargeable battery pack is extra! The position of the battery pack is also a bit awkward for some when holding.

    MS need to learn from Sony cause I personally believe and like the inbuilt battery pack OR fix the cheapness of it and ship 360 controllers with a rechargeable one.

    The PS3 problem is the analog sticks position and feel. Too awkward for me. The moment I felt a Xbox controller I felt like I was breathing for the first time. The PS controller is also too small I believe, doesnt feel right holding it.

    The 360 is good cause you can always fall back on using AA batteries but I believe controllers should ship with both a AA pack AND rechargeable.

    Got both PS3 and 360..... 360 controller is way better!

    well first of all i have to say i got my new controller today and i really like a lot. as to all those cry babies whining and moaning about the ABXY not being color coated i will say this "please shut up. HOW LONG HAVE YOU HAD YOUR 360? HOW WELL DO YOU REALLY KNOW THE CONTROLLER IF YOUR STILL HAVING TO LOOK AT WHAT BUTTON IT IS YOUR PUSHING, REALLY, SERIOUSLY, WOW, MOST OF YOU TALK ABOUT NEWBS I HAVE TO SAY THAT TOPS THEM RIGHT THEIR". anywho, i want to say the D-pad is superb on what style of game your playing i love the idea that they made it fighter friendly finally i can just click it over and make those hard moves i could rarely get with the old ones, its way easier to perfect the moves now. i got to pick mine up for a cold 50 bucks no taxes either, must say that was a once in a lifetime for me to just pop up on. so as for the price tag for i will not complain one bit got it a pretty good deal. i want to say to those that do get it you will have fun with this controller like i have. to those that are complaining about the ABXY i say to you DO NOT BUY IT STICK TO YOUR COLORED RAINBOW NEWB.

    GAME ON.

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