HKS Racing Controller PS3 - Review
Review by Greg Knoll
If I'm being honest, the HKS Racing Controller may be one of the strangest pieces of hardware I've ever seen. It may very well be the coolest though, too. For those of you not familiar with this new release, it could be described as a hybrid between the traditional PS3 Analog and the bulky, expensive Racing Wheel. Modeled after the original PS3 controller, the HKS is virtually the same size and style but only has one analog on the left side. The right has been replaced with the D-Pad, to make room for a circular disk at a 45-degree angle when the controller is upright. The HKS has only two face buttons-triangle and circle-on the far right corner. A good portion of the traditional area is used for the most prominent feature on the controller: two grooved, thin, half-inch long buttons-serving as X and Square-that resemble car pedals.
Like I said, strange.
But however obscure the design seems, it works. The X Button-or the gas pedal-is slightly higher and larger than the brake (square) allowing you to slide over and press both without having to hammer down the gas during a drift. The grooves prevented accidental slippage while I was still getting used to the new design, and with it being so defined I never had to look down to find my place if I paused or was switching back, meaning I never took my eyes of the screen, saving me from crashing. Okay, yeah, I still crashed but it wasn't nearly as much.
At first I was a little intimidated to try the Drift Wheel, mainly because of the angle and unlike the buttons the wheel-for the most part-was a smooth surface. There is one slit with embossed outer edges that I dug my nail into and guided the wheel but it still took me a few days and non-ranking matches to gather up the courage to try it. I went all out, not only using it to drift-as the name implies-but to steer as well. Now, some may have better luck with it then I did but the issue about the smooth surface became an issue, especially on long turns where I would have to hold in one position for too long. Using it to actually steer is not recommend. However, when I drifted it was far more entertaining. It goes further than the analog normally does, and isn't as sporadic, so cranking on it won't lead you astray. For sharp corners it was perfect, allowing me to push a little or slam it over to hold the turn, then switch back to the analog before I ever lost control. And since the two are so close together, I could do so seamlessly.
In addition, everything on the HKS is pressure sensitive. Heard that before? Yeah, so have I. How can you really tell how much or how little pressure your actually adding? With other controllers, I have no idea. The HKS does. On the face, typically where the logo is found is a digital meter that ranges from 0 to 100. The pressure you add to one button, the higher the number goes. It took a few races to get used to, but eventually I found the perfect amount of force to use when going into a turn so that I wouldn't ever have to hit the brake (not that I do anyway).
That, however, may be cause for my biggest complaint. There's far more going on here than a regular controller so I'm not too upset, but I hate wires. They're obsolete, or at least should be. The HKS is the first controller I've had to plug in since buying a PS3 and especially with a racing game, it's frustrating. However useless it may be, I play with my whole body and yank my hands this way and that when turning (and sometimes in a panic). Though the wire is long enough to be convenient, I still worried I would have a mishap.
Also, I wonder about the durability. The construction on it seems good, but even now I'm beginning to notice wear on the face of the analog and rubber peeling on the Drift Wheel. Then again though, I have used it non-stop since I got it.
And still will. Though it's a strange design, it is perfect for a player like me-who wants the feel of an actual race but is too traditional to, if you don't mind the pun, steer away from classic controllers. For any racing fan, it's a must. It doesn't just let you play racing games, it reinvents them. I hadn't touched Need For Speed for months, but when I plugged in the HKS I found new reasons for enjoying it. Adjusting to a different system, analyzing turns via a visible counter and the feel of actually being in the race. It may seem a little pricey to some, seeing as a regular controller is slightly more and you're only limited to a certain genre, but for fans of that genre it's quite possibly the best option out there.