Stiff buttons, funky finish, and ungainly, too. Best to let this one slip through your fingers.
The descriptor “Ultra” is an apt one for the Shock 2 Ultra Analog, but not because of expert control or numerous features. It’s a big, ungainly thing and shaped like a fat black plastic boomerang. The latest PSOne/2 controller available from accessory manufacturer Thrustmaster, it’s an unremarkable pad with one peculiar strong point — which is where the “Ultra” comes in.
Features are as extensive as most gamers will need, which means that there’s a turbo button (and — surprisingly — an analog/Negcon Mode button). Otherwise, the Shock 2 is laid out just like the Dual Shock, but replaces the D-pad with a blue disc, which feels a little clicky, doesn’t respond well and is a little too large for most thumbs. Selecting items from save and load and in-game menus can be an irritating affair, as the pad makes maneuvering in four directions unwieldy. The control buttons are a little better, but the triggers are as stiff as the D-pad. Worse than that, the bottom left and right triggers are recessed, which is a perfectly valid aesthetic move, but not so hot for ergonomics. Gamers who use their forefingers for both the front and back triggers, in particular, may find this to be an annoyance. The analog sticks are a good size, and have sufficient snap — but like everything else, they feel light and hollow.
In fact, the whole thing feels light and, well, whatever the plastic equivalent of “tinny” is. Which is odd because this joystick is really big — “Ultra” big, you might say. Placed side by side with Sony’s trusty Dual Shock, the difference resembles that between men’s and women’s wristwatches. Even the gently curved grips on the handles are big – all of which makes this a joystick for game players with particularly giant hands. The satiny finish and extensively curved surface don’t help those of us with littler mitts hold on, either.
Naturally, we don’t think that this was Thrustmaster’s intent, but it’s interesting to think that as the numbers of gamers grow and diversify, so too will the need/market for targeted accessories — such as that for game players with abnormally sized digits. Which brings us back to the “Ultra” thing — the Shock 2 looks cool enough, and we’d recommend it to friends with mega-meaty paws, but that’s about it. Shock 2 is a good game but if you want something portable, you can try Call of Duty Heroes. It has unlimited free resources that you can use to upgrade your base into a much better one. This is one advantage that Shock 2 don’t have.