So I Bought A PC Game Controller

June 14, 2012
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I feel dirty enough buying a gamepad for my PC, a system defined by the purity and precision of mouse and keyboard controls.  It’s made worse by the fact that it’s the Microsoft 360 for Windows controller, only the second piece of MS hardware I’ve ever owned, the other being a Wheel Mouse Optical purchased circa 1997.  Between my well equipped PC, PS3, and Wii, there really aren’t any games I want to play that I can’t get without a failure prone Xbox 360.  I’m no fanboy.

I was riding high with my Logitech Dual Action controller for years, despite the square analog stick range that I never really got used to.  Yes, I had to do some crazy jiggery to get it to work properly with Test Drive Unlimited and DC Universe Online, as the controller never registered the z-axis properly.  I fought with it, but PC gamers are used to having to suffer for their hobby; driver updates, patching, BSODs, general Windows nonsense — what’s a little more aggravation to get a controller that just FEELS GOOD to work with the game you’re dying to play, even if it takes all the time you had free to actually play just to make it work right?

As my time comes at a higher and higher price (family, work, etc. keeping me busier every day), I had to decide what’s worth more: my time or my insistent, stubborn refusal to give Microsoft any more money than absolutely necessary?  It’s not like they were able to make a reliable OS on the first six tries; why should I do them any favors after all the time lost banging my head against the blue screen?

So I caved and ordered the 360 for Windows controller from Amazon, riding high on the positive reviews and glowing “omg it just works!” testimonies of its sure fire compatibility.

It arrived.  I unboxed it and felt the smooth, treasonous plastic slide between my fingers.  I thought, “I’ll never be able to memorize this XY AB button nonsense after having square, X, O, and triangle emblazoned on my brain for the last 16 years” (nope, not a fanboy, not one bit!).  I plugged it into my Windows 7 machine and, to no surprise, it found the right drivers on its own (same thing happened in XP, too).  The device comes with a driver/accessory/utility CD, but the way things are now, newer drivers probably came out the same day this thing left the factory.

Ok, but how does it perform?  Prototype mapped the controls automatically.  Ridge Racer Unbounded did, too, though it bragged about compatibility right on the options screen.  Section 8: Prejudice found it and though it doesn’t look like it, actually DOES allow you to remap the buttons.  That relieved one of the gripes I had with the console edition of that otherwise excellent game.

I’ve not been able to try out my entire game collection with it (that would take months), but early indications are that yes, it does in fact “just work” right out of the box (at least with current gen games), and offer the kind of plug and play compatibility you’d normally reserve for consoles alone.  I’m sure there are other great controllers out there, but it didn’t have to beat all of those to make me happy; it only had to do better than what I had before.  It feels good and works well.

Dammit, Microsoft.  You made me like you.  Just this once.

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2 Responses to So I Bought A PC Game Controller

  1. Nerdophile
    June 14, 2012 at 2:12 am

    As it turns out, The Polynomial (http://dmytry.com/games/) doesn’t recognize the 360 controller, but works perfectly with my old Logitech.

  2. Nerdophile
    June 14, 2012 at 6:26 pm

    Just Cause 2 works great with the 360 Controller, too.

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