It doesn’t always get the credit it deserves and its fans can be pretty loud and annoying, but a good gaming session with the PS3 is hard to match. There’s something about four hours of Dynasty Warriors, a weekend of sandbox games, or even ten minutes of Disgaea that makes owning a PS3 worth it. I might own six times as many games for my Wii but my PS3 does get some serious playtime. Unlike my 360, that is.
This does, however, bring me back to that all-important question that gamers must remember. What’s the most important thing about a game? The story? The graphics? The cover? No. The controller. If that controller isn’t up to par, no game will be playable. The controller is the single most important factor in any game.
It was with this mindset that I recently purchased a PS3 Afterglow controller. Up to now I’d been pretty reluctant to pick up one of these questionable wired controllers from my local Gamestop. Why? The price. $30, while to some a good deal for a Playstation 3 controller, was an awful lot of money for a 3rd party lottery ticket. Would this controller be unplayable? Would I force it on my relatives instead of using it myself? Would it make my games extremely fun? It was a game of chance with too high an entry fee for my tastes.
Fortunately for me, I managed to stumble across a much more attractive deal. An online retailer was selling the PS3 Afterglow controller for a much more reasonable $15- shipping included. I was a bit disappointed that my color would be randomly chosen, but it was an acceptable trade-off. Five days later- I received my controller.
The color? Red. My second choice- not too shabby. While I would have preferred a green, I was relieved to not be stuck with the unappealing blue. Now that I had my controller, it was time for some games! I set aside my wireless Dual-Shock 3 as well as my Dual-Shock 2 and its USB adapter. Tonight I would game with Afterglow!
Plugging it in started with the extremely impressive light-show that I’d been looking forward to. The glowing effect was very attractive in light or dark- a big plus in my book. I should point out that my mischievous side looked forward to distracting other players with my controller’s impressive neon-like display. Thoroughly impressed by the Afterglow’s trademark, I popped in the first game. My choice? The Godfather 2.
Let me start with this. Thank goodness for the two capos that were with my character at the time! Dominic refused to quit slowly walking forward and was unwilling to keep the crosshair still. Both the left and right analogs were proving either too sensitive or simply misaligned. Pausing the game and fiddling with them finally provided better feedback, but still there was too loose a feeling for my liking. After my play experience with The Godfather 2, I can say that Dominic would not have survived if he hadn’t had two loyal Mafioso there to defend him from rival mobsters.
After turning off my Mafia-styled sandbox game, I popped in a different game. Yakuza 3 was going to get some time with the Afterglow. This time my experience wasn’t quite so dramatic. Kiryu wasn’t as responsive as usual, but he had no trouble slamming bicycles and park benches into street punks. As I toured Okinawa on foot, I really only found myself having to toggle the right analog now and then to fix the camera. It was passable, but annoying at times.
By my third game, I was admittedly missing the wireless experience offered by my DS3. While my red Afterglow controller offered a very long cord, it was by no means as convenient as a wireless gamepad. My third game was to be one of my favorites. I removed Yakuza 3 and fired up Dynasty Warriors: Gundam 2. Let me say that stepping onto the battlefield as Char’s Custom Zaku II has never been so frustrating. Now that I was facing thousands of Mobile Suits as well as the occasional massive Mobile Armor, I was noticing some other flaws with the controller.
The triggers with their awkward placement and weak responsive behavior were causing me all kinds of problems. Before I’d only had an irritating camera to deal with- now the whole controller was messing with me. As I finished my second battle in the Red Comet’s official mode, I decided to call it a day. There was no way I’d stand a chance against the Federation’s White Devil with the Afterglow as my right-hand man.
While I’m not entirely disappointed with the purchase, I am very relieved to have not paid the full $30 for it. When playing a slow-paced game with minimal camera control, I found myself having few issues with it. When a hack & slash or run & gun game is on the table, the Afterglow is simply not the right choice. I urge anyone looking at this thing for $30 to just buy a USB adapter for your old PS2 controllers. You’ll be much better off, I assure you. Now, if you’ll excuse me, my little brother is waiting to play and I don’t want to keep his new controller any longer.