Ready to Rumble: Hands On with the DualShock 3

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Sometimes you don’t know how important something is until it’s gone, especially when it’s something as seemingly insignificant as controller rumble. I’ve realized just this after recently my hands on the new DualShock 3 (DS3) wireless controller for the PS3.

It has the same form factor and base functionality of the original Sixaxis (which is now being discontinued) – the face buttons, d-pad, analog sticks and shoulder buttons all feel exactly the same and the tilt-control capabilities function as always – only now with the added immersion of force feedback. As of this moment, only around 30-40 PS3 games are officially rumble-compliant (Sony has a compatibility page up with the full list of supported titles), though a few unlisted games like Army of Two and Unreal Tournament 3 are said to be rumble-ready as well. Backwards compatibility users, you’ll be happy to know that the force feedback in all your favorite PS1 and PS2 games can also now be enjoyed once again.

The rumble itself is pretty much on par with that of the PS2 DualShock. That may give the DS3 tech a dated sound to it, but compared to the Xbox 360 and Wii controllers it still comes out on top – the force feedback just feels more nuanced and immersive to me than the competition. Racing and action games are the main beneficiaries of force feedback, so in the week I’ve had my DS3 I’ve spent the bulk of my time testing it with GT5 Prologue, Turok and Devil May Cry 4, and I’ve found all three to be noticeably enhanced experiences by the newfound rumble.

Bringing vibration back to the PlayStation brand is the main objective of the DS3, but there are other subtle improvements that also make it a far superior controller to the old Sixaxis. For one, it’s something like 40% heavier and thusly has a substantial heft that gives you a lot more confidence when you hold it. In short, it doesn’t feel like some cheap, hollow piece of plastic like the Sixaxis does. The extra bulk also seems to help balance out the tilt mechanics in certain games. Like with Lair, the motion controls feel even smoother to me now than before.

Another added benefit of the DS3 is the improved Bluetooth implementation. Every time I play a game with the Sixaxis I get at least one brief break in connection, but thus far I’ve experience absolutely no interference or failed connections with the DS3. Not a single one. That’s as vital an improvement as anything else.

At $55, the DS3 doesn’t come cheap and may be a tough sell for some, especially anyone who has already invested in multiple Sixaxis controllers already. But comparatively speaking, the price is in the same ballpark as all other wireless game pads, so it is competitively priced (especially considering the higher quality). Controllers are getting ridiculously expensive in general nowadays; just something we all have to get used to just like the increased cost of everything else in gaming.

For your core PS3 gaming experience, there’s no way you should be without at least one DualShock 3 in your arsenal, simple as that. Now kneel down in reverence, the king of console controllers has reclaimed its throne!

About the Author

Matt Litten is the full-time editor and owner of VGBlogger.com. He is responsible for maintaining the day to day operation of the site, editing all staff content before it is published, and contributing regular news, reviews, previews and other articles. Matt landed his first gig in the video game review business writing for the now-defunct website BonusStage.com. After the sad and untimely close of BonusStage, the former staff went on to found VGBlogger.com. After a short stint as US Site Manager for AceGamez, Matt assumed full ownership over VGBlogger, and to this day he is dedicated to making it one of the top video game blogs in all the blogosphere. Matt is a fair-minded reviewer and lover of games of all platforms and types, big or small, hyped or niche, big-budget or indie. But that doesn't mean he will let poor games slide without a good thrashing when necessary!