The FPS Master Controller by Radica will change the way gamers play first person shooter games on the Xbox. It's an absolute must for Xbox gamers' holiday wish lists, and here's why.
The FPS Master is made in the shape of double pistol-grips. At first glance, it appears to be oversized and clunky, reminiscent of the old "duke" controllers that came with the first versions of the Xbox. But pick it up, and you'll find it very ergonomic. It's lightweight, and conforms nicely to the shape of your hands.The sticks are positioned right under your thumbs, instead of offset the way they are on the S-controller, which leads to happier wrists at the end of those long frag sessions. The Start, Back, White, and Black buttons are positioned just inside and below the sticks, which I found to be more comfortable than the S-controller way of having to move your thumb backwards and to the outside to use them. The control pad is located behind and below the left thumbstick, which makes it hard to reach, but as it isn't used in most FPS games, this isn't much of a problem.
The major advantage of the layout of this awesome piece of hardware is the position of the A,B,X and Y buttons, and it's a big one. They rest under your middle and ring fingers on the inside of the pistol grips. In games using a similar control system to Halo, this means you can change weapons, reload, jump, or use a melee attack without taking your thumb off the right stick. This make it possible to maintain your aim while doing any of these actions, and in the case of jumping, can make for some fantastic sniping with a little practice.
The advantages don't end with the layout of the buttons, though. Have you ever found your aim inverted because you picked the wrong setting before the match? The FPS Master will let you invert the right stick on the fly, by using the programming function built into the controller. All it takes is a couple of button pushes, and you're back playing the way you're used to. This feature is also useful if you're used to playing with the aim inverted and the game you're playing doesn't support it. Because the inversion is done in the controller, and not in the game settings, you can use it on any game. The controller is also programmable. You can map each button on the controller to the function of another button, and store up to three of these profiles in the controller. They are selectable from a menu shown on the controller's built in LCD screen. Now, even if you're at a friend's house, you don't have to worry about setting up your controls the way you like them. Just push the profile button on the controller for the set-up you want, and start fragging.
The drawbacks of this controller are few, but unfortunately, there are some. First of all, the fact that it's lightweight may be a boon, but the thing almost feels like it'll break under too much stress. I've had mine for a couple months now, and I haven't had a problem, but I certainly wouldn't throw this controller after a bad game. If you're the type of person who throws, sits on, or otherwise abuses controllers, I wouldn't recommend the FPS Master for you. The second inherent drawback is the sensitivity of the thumbsticks. They are on the slow side, and if you're used to the S-controller, you'll find them rather sluggish. In most games, you can crank up the stick sensitivity to counter this, but not all of them. I took mine apart and replaced them with sticks out of an old "duke", but not everyone is going to have the ability to do this.
The benefits of this controller far outweigh its shortcomings. I would recommend this controller to any Xbox owner, and certainly anyone that plays Halo or Halo 2. It takes a little getting used to, but once you master it, you'll find your game improving.
Final Rating: 5 out of 5.
Wednesday, December 08, 2004
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