Register  |   Log In  |  
Sign up to our weekly newsletter    
Search   
Empire Magazine and iPad
Follow Me on Pinterest YouTube Tumblr
Empire
Trending On Empire
The Future Of Film
The 100 Greatest Video Games
Robin Williams: The Big Interview
Kevin Feige:
My Movie Life

The Marvel supremo's pick of the flicks
Want To Be An Empire Journalist?
Find out how here
Empire Blogs
Infinite Lives

Back to all blogs Comment Now

In Search Of The Ultimate Xbox Controller

Posted on Tuesday September 20, 2011, 15:32 by James Dyer in Infinite Lives
In Search Of The Ultimate Xbox Controller

With Gears of War 3, Battlefield 3 and Modern Warfare 3 each vying for position as this Christmas’ obligatory time sink, the need to get a leg up on the multiplayer league tables has become rather more pressing. While the average thirteen-year-old can put in a dozen hours a day to develop pixel-perfect sniping and nanosecond reflexes, we ‘mature’ gamers (ones with, jobs, wives or iPad editions to put out) simply can’t compete. It’s with this catch-up mentality in mind and the bitter taste of a recent CoD defeat at the hands of a cackling German teenager fresh in my mouth (“I am ze master, you are ze noooobie!”) that I set out to do the only mature, responsible thing left to me. Cheat.

There are literally dozens of different controllers out there and I’ve tried them all. But extra tactical buttons (thank you Mad Catz) or adjustable thumbsticks (Razer, please stand up) have only provided the smallest of performance boosts. To take my game to the next level, I decided, would necessitate entering the murky world of controller mods. I’m not talking about the online companies that will kit out an existing controller with quick fire buttons and charge you £70 odd quid for the pleasure – that’s a sure way to get yourself kicked out of matches in a hurry. Rather, I looked for ‘bolt-on’ accessories that could turn my bog standard Xbox controller into a cybernetically-enhanced killing machine. After trawling the Net and discounting a variety of weird and not very wonderful bobbins and whatnots that promised non-slick surfaces to stop deathmatch sweats or pads to ward off RSI, I selected a winning combo of The Avenger and a pair of FPS Freeks.


The Avenger from N-Control is, as you can see from the image, the most demented-looking thing in all of creation. But however off-putting the aesthetic might be, the principle is sound. A good kill/death ratio comes from good reflexes and The Avenger aims to give you the twitch-response of a clairvoyant ninja. The plastic exoskeleton snaps snugly over the official Xbox controller (a PlayStation 3 model is also available) and, via a series of tentacle-like levers and arms, frees your thumbs from any duties other movement and aiming control. It’s fair to say that the need to reload/crouch/swap weapons is where you’re most vulnerable in the average free-for-all - that split second when you take your digits of the thumbsticks, leaving yourself ripe for a bullet to the brain. With The Avenger, a Call of Duty match sees you reload with a flick up of the left rigger finger, swap weapons with a flick up of the right and go prone by twitching the knuckle on your index finger. Added to this, The Avenger uses adjustable straps to depress each trigger one notch away from activation - effectively giving you hair triggers for both aiming and firing.

It took some getting used to but after a couple of matches the sequence of flicks, twitches and nudges soon became second nature and I was racking up kills with wild abandon. While I could just have been having a good evening, during my Black Ops marathon I consistently ranked in the top 2-3 across deathmatch, CTF and Domination (I still died on my arse in Search & Destroy but you can’t have it all) and The Avenger seemed to have a noticeable effect on both my twitch firing during sudden face-offs and my evasion of enemy fire while mid-reload. It even survived a man-height tumble to a hardwood floor with no obvious ill-effects, allaying fears that the tangle of appendages would be the first casualty in any mid-match fit of frustration.

Compared to The Avenger, FPS Freeks are positively rudimentary in design, though no less inventive for that. Available in an assortment of colours and designs, they’re basically a snap-on cap that acts as an extender for your thumbsticks. The physics behind it is that it takes a certain amount of pressure to overcome the controller’s spring, which means it can be hard to make minute adjustments without wildly overcompensating. With the Freeks in place you have more leverage to counteract said spring, leading to more precise aiming. The first thing you’ll notice with these in place is that it alters your grip on the pad as your thumbs now float an extra centimeter or so above the action, which can be a little uncomfortable at first. The second is that the extra height takes your thumb that much further from the X Y A B buttons (a problem happily neutralised by combining your Freeks with The Avenger). As to their effectiveness, I initially found the difference marginal, however once I turned up the sensitivity in-game I found myself able to cope with far higher turning speeds while maintaining the same level of control. Result! Ultimately I removed the left Freek (after all, how precise do your forward and back steps really need to be?) while leaving the right one on the aiming stick in place and found that to be the best balance between comfort and control. After an entire weekend of endless carnage I found that, along with a finely tweaked Avenger configuration, provided the optimum load-out for taking on the M16 kiddies and emerging victorious.

Should you do likewise, though? The bottom line is this: if you, like me, have limited time to plough in to your online FPS shenanigans then both The Avenger and the FPS Freek could certainly give you an edge over the competition. Is it really cheating? Well, I’ll leave that one to your personal code of honour, but the advantages over a vanilla controller setup are pretty evident. The only major drawback is that if you ever find yourself at a LAN party or playing splitscreen at a friend’s house, going back to ‘normal’ controls will probably see you playing like an arthritic gibbon and eating grenades like blueberry muffins.

Both The Avenger and the FPS Freek are made and sold in the US but if you’re in the market for either mod on this side of the pond they can be picked up from www.limexb360.co.uk for £39.99 and £11.99 respectively. As stated earlier, The Avenger comes in both MS and Sony flavours, while the Freeks are flexible enough to handle either format.

Login or register to comment.

Comments

1 DarbyDaresYou
Posted on Friday September 23, 2011, 10:12
This looks awesome (: I must get one, maybe then I can challenge the 16 year old that takes me down every time

Log in below, or register to post comments
Username:
Password:
Remember Me:

CATEGORIES

Empire States (440)

Under The Radar (319)

Infinite Lives (92)

Small Screen (57)

Words From The Wise (35)

Cannes 2011 (28)

Off The Wire (24)

Comic-Con 2010 (21)

Casting Couch (2)

Oscars 2011 (1)


RECENT POSTS

Cannes Film Festival 2014: Awards Wrap
By Damon Wise

Sundance London: An Introduction To The 2014 Edition
By Damon Wise

Sundance 2014: Final Wrap
By Damon Wise

Sundance 2014: The Raid 2 – First Look
By Damon Wise

Sundance 2014: First Report
By Damon Wise

Shane Carruth Interview: Upstream Color
By Damon Wise

Lars Von Trier's Nymphomaniac: First Look
By Damon Wise

The European Film Awards 2013
By Damon Wise

Metro Manila Charity Screenings
By Damon Wise

San Sebastian Film Festival 2013: First Report – Enemy, Le Week-end, Quai D'Orsay and The Railway Man
By Damon Wise


RECENT COMMENTS

Sundance 2014: Final Wrap
"lights of both competitors alongside its traditional 24/7 series. Here we have the greatest hits of "  lalkala000
Read comment

Sundance 2014: The Raid 2 – First Look
"Ha ha, buuuurn! I am going to go a step further and say Dredd was a better film."  doug64
Read comment

Sundance 2014: The Raid 2 – First Look
"You are a miserable old fart! "  Crazel
Read comment

Sundance 2014: The Raid 2 – First Look
"Doug64 I totally agreed with you"  Crazel
Read comment

Sundance 2014: The Raid 2 – First Look
"Am I the only person in the world who doesn't think The Raid is all that great? I realise you have t"  doug64
Read comment

Sundance 2014: The Raid 2 – First Look
"Great write-up on a movie for which I am incredibly excited. Even more promisingly, this seems to be"  tysmuse
Read comment

Toronto 2013: Starred Up, Belle, The Invisible Woman, Dom Hemingway, The Double
"If being on a par with Terry Gilliam's 'daft' Brazil is the only criticism avowed Gilliam-disliker D"  Garth_Marenghi
Read comment

Venice 2013: Under The Skin
"I'm glad that Glazer's finally back on the big screen. Judging by the review, he"  Manfrendshensindshen
Read comment

Venice 2013: Gravity Is Out Of This World
"What's really interesting about this film is the trailer gives nothing away but give you the premise"  durelius
Read comment

Venice 2013: Gravity Is Out Of This World
"Looks majestic. Can't wait to see this particularly if it lives up to the slowly-building hype."  herbertwest1701
Read comment


POPULAR POSTS

Why I Love Django Unchained
5 comments

Sundance 2014: The Raid 2 – First Look
5 comments

Venice 2013: Gravity Is Out Of This World
4 comments

Venice 2013: Under The Skin
1 comments

Toronto 2013: Starred Up, Belle, The Invisible Woman, Dom Hemingway, The Double
1 comments

Sundance 2013: The Round-Up Part Two
1 comments

Sundance 2013: The Round-Up Part 5
1 comments

Argo: a round table encounter with Alan Arkin, Bryan Cranston and John Goodman
1 comments

Cannes 2013: Some Thoughts On The Official Lineup
1 comments

Sundance 2014: Final Wrap
1 comments


BLOGGERS
Damon Wise (297)
Helen O'Hara (168)
James Dyer (86)
Amar Vijay (71)
Ali Plumb (56)
James White (29)
Phil de Semlyen (19)
Owen Williams (15)
Ally Wybrew (2)
Ben Kirby (1)
Ian Nathan (1)
Dan Jolin (1)
David Parkinson (1)

SPECIAL FEATURE
The 301 Greatest Movies Of All Time EMPIRE READERS' POLL: THE 301 GREATEST MOVIES OF ALL TIME
You turned out in your hundreds and thousands, and here are the results... Browse the full list


CURRENT HIGHLIGHTS
The Hateful Eight - The Story So Far
We delve into the short but tangled history of Quentin Tarantino’s latest

Gallery: Unseen Star Wars Poster Concept Artwork
JW Rinzler takes us through a history of the franchise in jaw-dropping art

The Future Of Film: Lasers Will Save 3D (If Your Cinema Is Big Enough)
Big will be beautiful in the brave new world of frickin' laser beam projection

The Bond Girls Who Made It Big
The actresses who overcame the curse of 007 to forge successful careers

The Future Of Film: A Woman Will Direct Star Wars
No longer a men’s club, Hollywood is going to start opening its doors...

The Empire Podcast #130: Interviews With Rosamund Pike, Lee Child And Antoine Fuqua
The Gone Girl star, Jack Reacher author and The Equalizer director pop in for a chat

The 50 Greatest Voice Performances In Movies
Who has the most talented tonsils in town?

Subscribe to Empire magazine
Get 6 Issues Of Empire For Only £15!

Get exclusive subscriber-only covers each month!

Subscribe today

Subscribe to Empire iPad edition
Get The Empire iPad Edition Today

Subscribe and save maney on annual digital subscription

Subscribe today
Buy single issues

Get 6 issues of Empire for just £15!
Get the world's greatest movie magazine delivered straight to your door! Subscribe today!
Empire's Film Studies 101 Series
Everything you ever wanted to know about filmmaking but were afraid to ask...
The Empire iPad Edition
With exclusive extras, interactive features, trailers and much more! Download now
Home  |  News  |  Blogs  |  Reviews  |  Future Films  |  Features  |  Interviews  |  Images  |  Competitions  |  Forum  |  iPad  |  Podcast  |  Magazine Contact Us  |  Empire FAQ  |  Subscribe To Empire  |  Register
© Bauer Consumer Media Ltd  |  Legal Info  |  Editorial Complaints  |  Privacy Policy  |  Bauer Entertainment Network
Bauer Consumer Media Ltd (company number 01176085 and registered address 1 Lincoln Court, Lincoln Road, Peterborough, England PE1 2RF)