Gioteck GC-2 controller reviewed and…approved?

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Cheaper than the official option? Check – by ten quid, or thereabouts. Wireless? Check. Sturdy? Check. Rumble? Check. Acknowledges the 21st century by including a built-in rechargeable battery? Check. Gioteck‘s GC-2 is already looking tastier than many third party PS3 controllers; but can it follow through on its promise?

First and foremost, let’s tackle what will be the biggest issue for many potential purchasers. Rather than bluetooth, the GC-2 connects wirelessly via a USB dongle. There’s no fuss as it’s very much plug-and-play, and the idea that you need line-of-sight with the dongle is nothing more than a common misconception (that’s infra red). In terms of latency, there is no discernible difference between this and the DualShock. There are three disadvantages that the lack of a bluetooth connection brings, however.

Firstly, you can’t use the controller to switch your PS3 on. So what? Get off the sofa and push the button – look at you, you could do with the exercise! Secondly, you can’t check the battery level with a tap of the Home button as you can with the official pad (though on a more positive note, I got several hours of gameplay straight out of the box before the first charge, with a promised maximum of 25 hours use). Finally, with the dongle connected, your PS3 will recognise the GC-2 as the primary controller every time it’s turned on – even if you’re not using Gioteck’s pad. It’s quick and easy to reassign PS3 controllers, but this isn’t necessary at all with DualShocks.

Gioteck are fond of offering consumers the ability to customise thumbstick sensitivity, an option which is again present here. The default seems to be identical to that of the official pad, which suits me just fine. The other extra is, amusingly, the ability to assign a Turbo function to buttons. Seriously, has anybody used Turbo since the nineties? It’s worth bearing in mind that, presumably to keep costs down, the GC-2 has no memory; meaning that if you do wish to customise stick sensitivity and/or turbo functions, you’ll need to do so each time you switch the pad on.

Believe it or not, the real thing is almost as shiny as this.

Again sticking with the Gioteck ethos, the GC-2 is openly based on the design of the Xbox 360 controller. This basically means offset sticks and the L2 and R2 buttons being swapped for 360-style triggers. It’s comfortable to hold and, importantly, use. The d-pad works very well and the face buttons are instantly responsive, and happy to withstand the frenzied bashing that something like a brawler can demand. The sticks, like most of the rest of the pad, are extremely well made. Not only do they feel very happy and secure in their housings – snapping back into place as soon as you let go from any direction – hammering them left and right in the way that certain games demand when your character becomes dizzy doesn’t faze them at all.

The aforementioned triggers may be a point of contention for some. They are analogue but, curiously, don’t register any input at all until you push them about halfway in. This isn’t an issue for many games, and it’s possible that the majority of people wouldn’t even notice. Should you wish to assign the aim & shoot functions to the triggers for, say, Call of Duty however – which you’ll have to do in-game, as the GC-2 isn’t programmable – it could become an issue for pros online. That extra split-second it’ll take to aim/fire can make all the difference against a human opponent. Stick with the default buttons, however, and there’s no problem at all.

The positioning of the bumpers means that you press them with the middle of your fingers (rather than the tips, as with the DualShock). It feels a little odd at first but it’s comfortable, so you quickly get used to it. Within a minute or two of first using the GC-2 I wasn’t thinking about the design of the pad at all, which is surely the greatest compliment that can be paid to it. It’s worth noting that the repositioning of the start and select buttons also feels natural. You’ll reach for the right place without thinking, without hitting the Turbo or Home buttons by mistake.

It’s easy to forget that the Sixaxis function exists (developers certainly seem to have forgotten entirely), but it’s worth bearing in mind that the GC-2 does not have this feature before you consider purchasing it. If you want a third party pad to play Flower or take advantage of the motion controls for WipEout HD, this is not the pad for you.

Despite a few niggles, this is easily one of the best third party pads currently on the market. It’s tough, responsive, comfortable, and the fact that you can charge it up via your PC or, indeed, PS3 (there’s also a Wii U version) is a very welcome bonus. The pad even becomes reassuringly angry in your hands whenever it rumbles. The next time you break a pad by throwing it across the room when a snotty teenager strikes you down (again), take a look at the GC-2.

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Written by Luke K

Luke plays lots of videogames, now and again stopping to write about them. He's the editor in chief at Critical Gamer, which fools him into thinking his life has some kind of value. Chances are, if you pick up a copy of the latest Official PlayStation Magazine or GamesMaster, you'll find something he's written in there. Luke doesn't have a short temper. If you suggest otherwise, he will punch you in the face.

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