Editorial: Why I Prefer Sony Controllers
You know, when I first laid eyes on the original PlayStation controller almost 13 years ago, I wasn't too impressed. I thought Sony had decided to sacrifice practicality and comfort for this sleek, futuristic look. I thought the SNES still had the best controller of all time (and ironically enough, the N64 had the worst by far), and I wasn't too keen on trying out that new fandangled Sony machine. I just didn't have a whole lot of faith in that gamepad.
But now, well over a decade later, I find I vastly prefer the Sony controllers, whether they're Dual Shock 1, 2 or 3 or Sixaxis or whatever. It's just a level of comfort that no other controller has ever bothered to provide; I've placed my hands on just about every controller ever known to the video game realm, and I can say, beyond any shadow of a doubt, that I always prefer Sony's. Not only is it about the accessibility of the buttons and the design itself, it's how those buttons respond. I really didn't like the original Xbox controller - it was an ugly beast of a thing - but the S controller was great, which is essentially what we have with the Xbox 360. I have no problems using it, but I just don't like the triggers (never have liked triggers on controllers) and I despise the almost non-existent sensitivity of the face buttons.
I really didn't like the idea of changing the R2 and L2 buttons on the Sixaxis to half-triggers - the buttons on the Dual Shock 2 worked just fine - and it's really very simple: I've spent almost a quarter-century building up the touch and control of my thumbs, and it almost never involved my index fingers. I'm shakier and far more inaccurate when pressing down a trigger with my index finger than I would be if I was pressing it down with my thumb. Furthermore, I don't know if anybody has noticed, but the pressure sensitivity of the Sony controllers has always been the best. Just tapping the buttons will produce a result, and pressing them harder (in many titles) can produce a different, and easily achieved, result. Supposedly, this same technology is in the Xbox 360 controller, but I refuse to believe it. You really have to press the face buttons hard in comparison to the Sony controllers.
It's like I'm mashing on the A button just to perform a simple action, whereas with any Sony controller, I tap it and the responsiveness is immediate and perfect. On top of which, when you consider the fact that, for me, all the buttons are more accessible on the Sony controllers, it's no contest. I've heard the argument that the 360 controller is much better for first-person shooters, and that's presumably because of the triggers (which I will always hate), and the better analog. On this latter issue, I do agree: the firmer analog of the 360 gamepad does feel more durable, and the player doesn't have to be quite so erratic. The analogs on the Sony controllers have always been a little light and too easily moved about, leading to control difficulty in certain situations. But I think I've gotten so used to it, I'd almost rather play FPSs with a Sony controller, too. It's just a matter of personal preference, I know, but I'm wondering how many people feel this way...
Let's face it: when it comes to consoles, the gamepad is of the utmost importance. If you find it uncomfortable or difficult to handle in some way, every last one of your game experiences will suffer. And I've experienced the least number of "scream at your controller in frustration" situations with Sony controllers. That's all I'm saying. :)
7/4/2008 Ben Dutka