Pre-E3 06: Hands on with the new PlayStation 3 controller

PS3: Sony unveils suspiciously familiar PS3 pad - and we touched it

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It was the moment all of video gaming-dom has been waiting for since last E3: Sony'sgrand high mucky-muck Ken Kutaragi, on the stage of Sony's pre-E3 press conference, officially announced that the boomerang-shaped PS3 controller revealed last year was officially dead.

Not only that, but the new controller design wasn't actually very new at all. When he trotted it out and said, "This is the finalPlayStation 3 controller," the audience actually laughed.It turns out thePS3 controller looks incredibly like the same Dual Shock controller we've known and loved for years, only painted silver and with a big PlayStation-logo button in the middle.

Granted, itpacks insome new tricks. To demonstrate, Sony Computer Entertainment chiefPhil Harrison took the stage and started up a demo. Onscreen, a box labeled "Do not open until E3" shook and fell apart, revealing a3D version of the controller. Harrison lifted up thereal one, and the onscreen one rose as well. Harrison tilted his controller, and the one onscreen tilted. That's right: thanks to a six-axisinternal gyroscope, the Dual Shock 3 (or whatever Sony decides to call it) is motion-sensitive, not entirely unlike the two-piece wand that makes Nintendo's Wii such an unusual duck. It also boasts a USB port on top, which we're guessing is used to recharge the internal batteries that power the Bluetooth-powered wireless connectivity. While we're guessing, we're also thinking that the round, black button in the center of the controller is probably similar to the jewel button on the 360, providing access to Sony's planned online service.

The lower shoulder buttons, R2 and L2, look almost as if they've been turned into triggers - they clearly have a bit more give. Sony didn't address this during the conference, and we actually didn't notice much of a difference when we held it ourselves. We're hoping for at least some analog sensitivity, though we would definitely have preferred a full-blown trigger.

Sony also touted the light weight of the new controller, though it comes at a cost - the vibration motors have been removed. This actually sucks, because when we finally got the chance to hold the thing in our hands and play the demo of Warhawk, we wished we had some kind of feedback (other than our aircraft careening all over) to tell us how far we'd tilted. It didn't help that the controller felt kind of light and insubstantial.

Not that we're complaining; using the controller to guide the path of our hoverplane was slightly awkward, but held undeniable appeal.

We're slightly disappointed that we never got the chance to at least try the boomerang - despite the fact that it looked terrible, with a strange contour and too-tiny analog sticks, we'd like to prove that we were right to fear it - but in the end, we're thrilled to have our old friend back. We'll just have to remember that this controller won't come back to us if we throw it.

May 08, 2006

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

I was the founding Executive Editor/Editor in Chief here at GR, charged with making sure we published great stories every day without burning down the building or getting sued. Which isn't nearly as easy as you might imagine. I don't work for GR any longer, but I still come here - why wouldn't I? It's awesome. I'm a fairly average person who has nursed an above average love of video games since I first played Pong just over 30 years ago. I entered the games journalism world as a freelancer and have since been on staff at the magazines Next Generation and PSM before coming over to GamesRadar. Outside of gaming, I also love music (especially classic metal and hard rock), my lovely wife, my pet pig Bacon, Japanese monster movies, and my dented, now dearly departed '89 Ranger pickup truck. I pray sincerely. I cheer for the Bears, Bulls, and White Sox. And behind Tyler Nagata, I am probably the GR staffer least likely to get arrested... again.

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