To me there is nothing worse than playing online only to find that the person you are playing against is using a controller that utilises Rapid Fire, Auto Head Shot and Fast Reloads. In my mind this gives an unfair advantage and is simply nothing more than cheating. Controllers that add a greater degree of control over your movements and button pushing, however, I’m all for that.
This is one of the reasons that the Thrustmaster GPX LightBack controller appeals to me. If you were a fan of the Thrustmaster Ferrari controller, and let’s be honest that was one sexy piece of kit, you’ll be more than happy with the GPX LightBack.
Firstly both the left and right trigger have an in-built precision gauge with four LEDs for both triggers. This gives you visual feedback in regards to how much pressure you are placing on the trigger in real time; Perfect for controlling your acceleration around a tight corner of a race track.
Secondly, both the left and right “ministick” controls have interactive backlighting which illuminates in relation to certain in-game events. Take a bullet in a shooter, it lights up. Start to lose traction in a racing game, it lights up. Granted not the be all and end all in a controller but it certainly helps when trying to get a feel for a game.
The true hallmark of Thrustmaster’s Xbox 360/PC controllers is in the precision levels available in the ministicks, thanks to Thrustmaster’s latest and fully optimized firmware. “Twice the precision of most currently available controllers” whispers the controllers packaging, almost as if it’s not quite sure of the boast itself but my God what a difference I felt in comparison to my official Xbox 360 controller.
The final advantage I found with the Lightback was the grips. Initially I had some concerns as they felt much smoother than my normal controllers but after two hours of gaming and my hands sweating they were much less slippery than my previous controllers. This allowed me to consistently hold my controller in a comfortable position without having to keep on moving my hands to ensure I had a hold of it.
The only downside I found with the controller was the length of the cable, for me it was too short and I ended up having to move some furniture closer to the TV in order to utilise the it. If it was 12 inches longer or even wireless I would have absolutely no issues.
So I guess at this stage you are all wondering what advantages I gained on the games I played?
I have been struggling with FIFA’s latest real movement adaption and often found myself making a beautiful pass to a player out on the wing only to then run it straight out of play. With the LightBack I found myself doing this a lot less as I felt I had a lot more control over where exactly my players were running with the ball.
This is the type of game this controller was built for. Yes I could control my acceleration and braking on my original controller but it was more luck than actual judgement and I quite often would put a little bit too much pressure on the trigger resulting in a spin out, or I would put too little pressure on the trigger resulting in a mass of cars that I had managed to keep at bay throughout the race overtake me at the last corner. This was eliminated by the LightBack as I had a visual clue in regards to how much pressure I was placing on the accelerator.
Steering became much easier with the LightBack’s ministicks as well. I would very often find myself veering from zero steer to full lock with my normal controllers. With the LightBack I was able to place a small amount of pressure on the ministicks and would start drifting slightly from one side of the track to the over. When a full lock on a tight corner was required the Lightback didn’t let me down either with the lock coming at full pressure of the ministicks and the light feedback alerting me to the loss of grip on the track as well.
Again, the Lightbacks speed gauges assisted me in the control of power throughout the tracks and helped me gold medal four tracks that had previously been bronzes throughout numerous attempts at them previously.
There are a number of games where the controller didn’t give me an advantage over a normal controller. Virtua Tennis 2009, Half Minute Hero and Smackdown vs. Raw 2009 to name but three, but to be perfectly honest it didn’t hinder me either.
The price of £39.99 is great value when you take into account that some retailers are selling the standard Xbox 360 controller for £34.99. All in all, with the Thrustmaster GPX LightBack, you get yourself a well-constructed, comfortable, light but sturdy wired controller with the added benefits that the speed gauges, ministicks precision and the light feedback gives you.
MLG Rating: 8/10 Platform: Xbox 360/PC Release Date: Out Now
Disclosure: SiStevens was provided with a GPX LightBack controller for review purposes by the promoter. The hardware was reviewed over the course of one week on a Xbox 360. For more information on what our scores mean, plus details of our reviews policy, click here.