In the past while it was tempting to go for a 3rd party controller for the PS3 you normally ended up with a pad that couldn’t hold up to the test of time in terms of durability/compatibility. However the Thrustmaster T-Wireless controller(s) could offer the best alternative to Sony’s own official variant. It lacks the rumble feature but it makes up for this with a design that is similar to the Xbox 360 controller but on a much smaller scale!
Design & Features
We got hold of the Duo pack (though the controller is sold separately) because we have both a PS3 and PC, so with this pack we don’t have to lug the controllers back and forwards between the two platforms.
In terms of the design you will find that one of the controllers is white, while the other is black and each gets their own 2.4Ghz Wireless Receiver (USB).
In all honesty when you first lay your eyes on the box the first thing that will stand out is just how dinky the controllers are! We then looked down on our large hands and thought that there was no way these would benefit us in terms of comfort.
However thankfully the feel of the controller is great as your second finger tucks in naturally around the back of the controller while your thumbs have access to the two analogue sticks and surrounding buttons.
The feel is also very similar to our Xbox 360 controller (which is still classed as one of the best controllers on the market). Mind you the only gripe we had with the latter was it was too large, however the T-Wireless has in theory fixed this problem.
Also speaking of problems we normally find that on the official PS3 controller the L2 and R2 buttons are two far apart to be pressed comfortably or quickly enough in-game. Again the Thrustmaster fixes this by bringing the latter closer together.
In fact all the PS3 buttons/d-pad (which is rocker-style alternative to the Sony 4-way) are all mapped to the Thrustmaster controller including the PS Home button, thus you can turn off the console and quit games no probs.
Sadly the only thing you can’t do is switch the console on from standby.
Anyway we will come back to the setup in a moment, as we also need to mention that the build quality is surprisingly good for the price. Plus even with the 3 AAA batteries installed (which sadly you have to buy separately) the controller is pretty light. This is possibly helped by the fact that the controller does not have a rumble function – something we did not notice to be honest as the PS3 rumble is not that responsive anyway – well in our opinion it isn’t.
Setup on the PS3 is an absolute piece of cake. You simply plug in your wireless receiver(s) into your device's USB port, flip the small on switch (which is located in the corner of the controller) and the devices pair straight away! On the PC you have to download a driver from their website and then do the same as the above.
For the PS3 you can use both controllers at once as you get two receivers in the box and each tunes in to the corresponding controller. You can also use the black receiver with a white controller and vice versa but the first device that connects to the receiver takes hold.
On the PS3 we could use the controller to manipulate all of our console and in-game menus without a problem. For testing we played a two player version of a classic game called "Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six Vegas 2" which is a FPS style game which we thought would be handy to test the reactions of the pad. Plus we switched to a sesh on FIFA afterwards which again was a good test for the controller.
Additionally we used the T-Wireless pad alongside a standard Sony PS3 controller to see if it would cause any interference. We have to say no such problems were encountered and the two controllers worked well together.
During the game we have to admit that at first the analogue sticks (with their rubberised coating) felt a little stiff and less accurate than the PS3 controller, but after 30 minutes or so we were starting to use the controller more effectively and it soon started to become a lot easier to play with. The surrounding buttons also offer nice feedback. Mind you it does take a while to get used to the close proximity of the four top buttons (having been so used to a different position on the official Sony controller), but once you do we found the accessibility to be a great asset.
The controller also felt comfortable even after multiple hours of use and the batteries held up extremely well. It states that the three AAA batteries can last up to 50 hours which is pretty impressive. While we can’t vouch 100% for this we can state that the batteries we used - which were any old batteries that we could find dotted around the house - seemed to easily last our 3 hour gaming sesh and they are still going strong. Having no rumble features probably helps with this.
One of the best features of the controller though is its mapping function. This allows you to map a function of one button onto another (this includes even pushing down on the analogue sticks).
However where it differs slightly is that the mapped buttons function then translates to the button you swap it with. For example if L1 was a fire button and L2 was sprint. If you wanted L1’s function to work with L2 you simply press the Map button, then select the L1 button and then press the destination button L2. The two buttons would then swap their roles. L1 would become the sprint and L2 the fire.
This also works with spare buttons or directional movements! What's great is that while the above sounds complex you can actually map a buttons functionality in a matter of seconds! It’s a great feature!
On the PC though the above is a little less intuitive due to the amount of customisation you have to do. For example we tried "Left 4 Dead" and had to spend a good 10 minutes getting our combo right. After this the controller then worked a treat and it was just as responsive as our PS3 gaming. In some ways having all the controls mapped to the pad made it even easier to use than the keyboard/mouse combo!
Unfortunately while the Map function is useful we felt that the PS3 benefited more. The main reason is that as soon as your controller or device is turned off it loses the mapping!
This means that every time you restart the game you have to mess about getting your controls working again. On the PS3 this is not a problem because the games are designed for the pad. For more complex PC games, involving usual keyboard and mouse movement combos, it can be a right pain having to re-do everything again.
While we would recommend the controller for the PS3, the PC side was a bit more of an issue with more complex games (Football games are better because the controls are simplified).
The Map function though is still simplicity personified and without using any software manipulations you can change over a buttons functions quickly. Coupled with the easy setup and respectable performance/price the controller is certainly worth the investment if you want an alternative for your PS3. We think a controller on its own costs £21.63 which may be the better option if you want to save even more money.
- 2.4 GHz wireless controller (or gamepad as they like to call it): Uses only 3 AAA batteries- Optimized battery life: More than 50 hours of battery life
- 360° grips and mini-sticks with genuine rubber: 2 handles with non-slip textured rubber grips for optimal handling and comfort
- Fully programmable: All buttons can be swapped, thanks to the exclusive “Mapping” function
- “Home” button lets you access PS3 menus
- Multi-player function: Automatic synchronization of the controller and its transmitter
- Compatible with PS3 and PC (Windows XP, Vista, 7 & 8 )