Sony PlayStation 3 Game Console Page 8

Sony PlayStation 3 Game Console Controller

Taking Control

Gamers are insanely loyal to a particular controller once they get used to it, like the curves and nuances of a lover's body. After you've held onto something for 8 hours a day, day in and day out, you sorta get used to the location and feel of every button. On that note, PS2 owners will be instantly at home with the PS3 controller. One immediately noticeable difference: The controller is incredibly light. In fact, my first thought was that Sony had sent me a non-working sample.

The controller is now known as the SIXAXIS (as opposed to the PS2's DualShock). This is essentially the same model beloved by millions of gamers everywhere, with minor changes. The L1 and R1 buttons have been replaced by analog triggers with a slightly longer pull. This is great for racing games where varying levels of gas and brake are essential for avoiding (or effecting) drift in and out of turns. Even better, Sony has cut the cord, using Bluetooth for full wireless operation. The wireless worked great, without ever lagging or missing a command. (Though it would be so tempting to blame all of those deaths in Call of Duty 3 on a faulty controller, my conscience won't let me!)

As many as seven controllers can be connected wirelessly at once, so you won't be tripping over a bunch of cords during multiplayer games. The controller charges via USB - said to offer up to 30 hours on a charge - and can be used while it is charging, though the cable Sony included is so short that you'll likely want something longer. A new PS button has been added between the analog sticks and provides basic system control. When the console is off, a press powers it up and immediately syncs the wireless controller; press and hold, and it will give you options to turn the system off, quit a game, see the battery charge remaining on the controller, and more.

The controller's biggest change will definitely be the most controversial - gone is the rumble and vibration feature of the old DualShock model, replaced by a tilt-sensing feature. Implementation so far seems kind of gimmicky, and most games allow you to turn the feature off and use a more traditional button-press instead. In Tony Hawk's Project 8, you can use tilt to steer your skater, balance while performing grinds and manuals, or to grab and do flip tricks. After a few seconds of playing this way, I turned it off and returned to the traditional controls; the tilt just didn't feel natural or provide the precision that the analog stick does.