Peripherals

2008-01-20
Sixaxis (Dual Shock 3 in the future)

With one supplied in every PS3 box, the Sixaxis (so called for the fact that, other than the usual button control, the pad is also sensitive to motion with six degrees of freedom, pitch, yaw, roll and the standard positional translation in three dimensions) the pad will be familiar to every PS3 owner. Currently, there's no dual shock feature but the major leaps forward in technology are most certainly the fact that (i) the controller is wireless, and (ii) the controller is motion sensitive (though the latter feature might not be that great). Personally though, I am most grateful that the controller still feels practically the same. Aside from perhaps a little weight loss (that will undoubtedly return when the pad gets to enjoy those dual shock treats once again), the controller is instantly familiar and a joy to use. Everyone has a favourite controller, usually determined by the one you use the most. Personally, the Playstation pads have always suited me best.

The Sixaxis

The tilt function is very responsive and feels fairly natural (give flOw a try to see how well it works) and compares reasonably well to the Wii remotes for Nintendo's console, though the ovious disadvantage here is the shape of the pad. Where the Wiimote lends itself to different hand positions for games varying from golf through to First Person Shooters, the PS3 pad still wants to be held in the usual way, and you can't really imagine standing up and swinging it through the air. That said, it's a disadvantage I'm happy to live with, since it preserves the ability to actually play the full range of usual games, rather than being forced to make everything about motion sensitivity. The Sixaxis is quite happy with its new ability, but does not force developers to use it. Another plus point is that the Sixaxis doesn't require any extra peripherals to operate correctly, so there aren't sensor bars and extra leads draped over your tv.

In terms of battery life, the PS3 pads have a good 25-30 hours in them before they need to be recharged. Brilliantly, there's no need for external battery chargers and other irritations - you can simply plug the pad into the PS3 via a usb cable and it'll merrily start charging. Long term battery life may be a concern, but Sony has discussed plans to replace pads whose batteries have eventually given in.

More importantly though, a Dual Shock 3 is soon to be released, featuring that classic rumble (now that a pesky lawsuit has been dealt with in our repetitive blame society). If you're planning on buying a new controller, I'd hold off until you can get a Dual Shock 3. The Sixaxis is great, but the added functionality in the Dual Shock 3 makes it a better option.

Headsets

The headset pictured below is a bluetooth headset, the Gioteck EX-01. Many bluetooth headsets connect happily with Playstation 3 (though it's worth checking reviews first to confirm the model you are looking at has been successfully used by somebody). An official bluetooth headset is on the horizon, but until that arrives, there are plenty of compatible options to choose from.

Gioteck EX-01

There are also USB headsets available. For example, an easy, and relatively cheap, purchase is SOCOM II, which comes equipped with an ideal USB headset that does the job more than adequately. The USB connection leads to a cable which may be annoying to some, but it's very long so you shouldn't be overly restricted. Still, for those that are happily embracing the wireless age, bluetooth is probably the way to go.

Games such as Resistance: Fall of Man work brilliantly with headsets. After forming a party, groups can communicate freely between eachother or choose to press a button that will allow communication to all players. The pictured headset does the job fine, and I'd recommend this fine addition.

Playstation Eye

There's a strong possibility you'll be familiar with the Eyetoy for Playstation 2. This basic camera allowed you to flap your arms around happily, causing things on the screen to react. The Playstation Eye does pretty much the same thing, but with better resolution and quality. The first cool feature is that you can now have very decent video chats between Playstation 3s. This I found particularly handy at Christmas. There are also a reasonable number of games available that support the camera (with titles like Aqua Vita getting things started. More excitingly, big releases like Burnout Paradise are making use of the camera in fun ways. If you take somebody out in Burnout, or get taken out, if you're using the Playstation Eye, you can send or receive photos of gloating enemies or hapless victims.

Playstation Eye

If I'm honest, I don't think support for the Playstation Eye will grow very rapidly, but it is my hope that numerous titles will take advantage of the device. It'd be fun to see it used in some truly innovative ways.

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