DualShock 3 Impressions

In what I’m sure will be remembered as a breakthrough up there with the moon landing and the mapping of the human genome, Sony have done the impossible: they’ve got rumble and motion sensing into the same controller.

DualShock 3

With rumble back in there and the controller no longer feeling quite as waifish, that’s two problems down. We still have the somewhat floaty and uncomfortably-placed sticks and those inexplicable convex triggers (PSW has the right idea), but it’s a big improvement. Perhaps more importantly, however, I haven’t had those intermittent signal dropouts that plagued the Sixaxis and I’m yet to hear of any from other people. That’s worth the upgrade alone.

Like the Controller S for the Xbox, this is how it should have been done the first time. I’ve kind of given up on my other problems with the DualShock design being fixed or even acknowledged as problems, so at least the removal of several new issues is a step in the right direction. It seems like a subtle improvement in general, with the sticks having a slightly different feel to the Sixaxis – a friend described them as being more “PS2-like”, although I don’t know what exactly had changed – and the whole thing generally feeling more sturdy.

The DualShock 3 in my hands The DS3 smothering its deformed older sibling
(click images for larger versions)

Obviously it’s the rumble that provides the main attraction, and that seems well done. It’s clearly not the much-vaunted TouchSense, but at the same time it doesn’t feel like weights on motors. The games that I’ve tried which feature rumble – Uncharted, Resistance, the GT5 and Ratchet demos – may simply be using it in subtle ways (I’d bet that they were integrated in a hurry) but in all instances it felt more like a buzz than what I’d describe as a rumble. It remains to be seen how it will handle the sharp jolt of gunfire once developers have it properly integrated, though it was predictably well executed in the rumble strips and engine feedback of GT5. It also tested fine for rumble in PS1 and PS2 games.

In-game Sixaxis motion sequences are, predictably, still shit. Developers: please look at Warhawk’s optional implementation and let me use the sticks.

So from what I’ve played the DualShock 3 seems to be a worthy new iteration of the Sixaxis that PS3 owners will want to invest in. It seems odd that there is such a gulf between the Japanese and Western release dates given that there are no region locks for hardware, but – given that there are no region locks for hardware – it’s a simple import. Admittedly not quite so simple anymore for EU residents, so in that case I suggest looking for importers in your country or simply taking a punt on eBay.

For non-EU residents Play-Asia has both black and ceramic white variants available. Might I suggest the white because, like its console cousin, it won’t show up the dust quite as much and looks rather more spiffing.