Orb is back, and they’ve got a new PS3 controller with some familiar styling, especially for the market that is looking for something different than the stock-standard input device that comes with the console. Can Orb help capture a portion of the market that is looking for value at a low price?
First off, the similarity to the Xbox 360 controller shape is undeniable here. That on it’s own, isn’t a bad thing, but Orb has made enough subtle design modifications to the shape and flow of the controller, to avoid straight out plagiarism. Unfortunately, in the process of applying those alterations, they’ve made a classic design uncomfortable and clumsy.
Sure, it may sit decently in your palms, provided that you have tiny hands that is. There’s a running joke in my family based on a line from Flushed Away, that I happen to have “my mothers hands”, and even they felt oversized with this controller.
Hell, I took it to some friends with normal, manly-sized hands, and even they felt uncomfortable playing a game with it, even though they were regular X-box 360 gamers. Just holding the controller, and my thumbs overlap on the analogue sticks, bumping and nudging each other constantly. Of course, a quick change of hand position solves that, albeit at the cost at making a gameplay session now uncomfortable and leaving my appendages stuck in a claw like pose.
The top PS Home, start and select buttons also suffer here, as their placement at the top makes them unreachable when in a hurry, as well as sometimes becoming stuck and non-responsive when quickly jammed.
But I will say this, the analogue sticks, while too close, are pretty solid and nicely textured, albeit a touch stiff at times. So, that’s the basic design discussed, but what about the actual action of inputting actions? Is that the saving grace here with this controller.
Sweet merciful Minerva, no.
I used a multitude of games to test the controller out, from Darksiders 2 to Street Fighter X Tekken, Rage to Killzone, Birds of Steel through to Burnout Paradise, and one issue that I really had here, was how the analogue sticks felt like they had been dipped in molasses. Movement was painfully slow, and compared to the PS3 default controller, it’s like watching a drag race between a VW Beetle and a Mclaren F1 when it comes to response times. The damn sticks are so slow, that they require constant hugs.
So what about the trusty buttons then? Surely it can’t be too difficult to mess that up, can it? Not at all, but there’s still some inkling of an attempt to do so. The buttons on the Orb controller are raised higher than the default setup on the PS3, and this does make a difference in response times and the like, but I’m leaving that to personal preference, seeing as how people also don’t like having a controller with a lower set of buttons.
But there’s also an issue with buttons sticking here, something that happens regularly, and compared to the fact that official controllers seem to never have this issue, it’s pretty damn noticeable.
If there’s anything that the Orb does have going for it, it’s that it’s a cinch to set up, and the triggers are actually quite decent, especially if you have fat fingers. But at a asking price of around R400, it doesn’t feel like value for money at all. If Orb lowered this to around the R200 mark, it’d be worthwhile, but otherwise, it feels like an over-priced piece of plastic, that actually made me run back to my regular PS3 controller.
And I’m not even a fan of that one, but at least it’s well made and reliable.
If you’re looking for a controller for your PS3 that takes a few ideas from Microsoft and adjusts them with positive results, it pays to pay a little extra here, and stick with something that is actually worth the price, like the Gioteck HF-2.
Otherwise, you’ll find yourself stuck with a cheap tie-in that hits your bank balance square in the stomach.
Last Updated: September 17, 2012