As an avid gamer for many years now, I have witnessed and played with all kinds of controllers for the PC as well as different consoles. I continue to use one of my favorite game pads, Microsoft's SideWinder, which I bought many years ago. This game pad still serves me well in today's games such as Need For Speed Underground as well as classic emulated arcade games. To this day, I still am slightly disappointed with many of the game pads out in the market today. They simply fail because they don't have enough features or most important of all, they fail functionally. For instance, this includes having the right number of buttons as well as where they are placed. A very important concept to a consumer is the durability of the controller. I have seen the directional pad of many controllers break or wear out over a period of time. In addition, I even saw some controllers whose directional pads or buttons simply didn't work well. Today, I will be reviewing Logitech's RumblePad 2. This game pad has extra features that will appeal to most consumers. It has built-in vibration for games and it is cordless as well. These features are great and all, but does this game pad pass the test when it comes to basic functionality and design?
Here are the features of the product as listed on Logitech's website:
-2.4 Gigahertz performance, ranges up to 30 feet
-100 hours of battery life
-Dual vibration feedback motors
-10 programmable buttons as well as a mode button
-Two analog control sticks
-Software included to allow you to customize buttons
Based on these features, this controller does look impressive. With its wireless capabilities you won't have to worry about a connected wire getting in the way of your gameplay. The 100 hour battery life is a darn long time so you don't have to worry about continually changing batteries. The dual analog control sticks are very useful in certain types of games and provide you addition control. Let's have a closer look at the controller.
The box of the product is very simple. Although subtle, it was a good move by Logitech to all you to see the controller through the box. If you are a consumer, this can instantly make it or break it in your purchase. By allowing the consumer to see what the controller looks like, it lets the consumer know what to expect to some degree. The back of the box lists several main aspects which are part of the features. It is based on the 2.4 GHz frequency to allow excellent performance, there is force-feedback vibration, and batteries are included in the box.
When opening the box, all I had to do was open the lid from the bottom. Then I just had to slide the entire cardboard container out. This package includes the controller itself, 2 AA batteries, the receiver, an an instruction manual containing the CD for the software installation. The receiver is extremely light is only slightly larger than a Zippo lighter. The receiver has two rubber strips at the bottom to prevent it from sliding or moving around. At the very front, there is the Logitech symbol, which is actually a button. You press the button to help connect with the controller. Now we move onto the soul of the product, the controller.
When first looking at the controller, it has a carbon black color. There is the orange Logitech symbol that immediately stands out when looking at the controller. The controller seems like a hybrid between the PS2 and Xbox controllers. It resembles more like a PS2 controller but the carbonn black color and rugged feel gives the controller an Xbox feeling. When using the directional pad for the first time, I immediately knew it was better than other controllers. The one thing I did notice about it is that there is a slight click noise when you press the button.
There are 4 buttons at the top of the controller. Usually, most controllers typically have only 2 at the top, but the extra two buttons will definitely allow you to assign more buttons. Two of those buttons are slightly larger (also known as R1 and R2 on a PS2 controller) which allow you to distinguish between the rear buttons when in use. The buttons at the right hand side of the controller follow the diamond placement like the PS2 controller. The buttons are labeled from 1 to 4. There are 4 buttons at the center of the controller where the 'Start' and 'Select' buttons are typically places. Two of those buttons can be used for those. The other two are the 'Vibration' and 'Mode' buttons.
My computer has Windows XP with SP2 installed. This product is also compatible with Mac OS X. When I plugged in the receiver into the USB port of my computer, Windows automatically detected it as the 'Logitech Rumble Pad 2'. Next you have to insert the batteries into the controller. You access the battery compartment at the back of the controller. You push forward where the arrows indicate. You then insert the batteries into the compartment and close the lid. Then I pushed the button on the receiver to begin looking for the controller. Once I pushed a button on the controller, it immediately detected the controller. I could tell because the receiver would light up every time I pushed a button.
I found the controller to work very well as a controller. The directional pad is soft and stopped making the clicking noise after I used the pad for a while. Logitech took the safe way out by making the design similar to the PS2 controller. The controls are where they should be and the controller felt natural when using it. With the controller containing the batteries, the controller had a solid weight that felt like this controller was durable and comfortable. It wasn't too heavy to use at all. Since your thumb can make quicker and more forceful movements that lets say your 'pointy' finger, Logitech has done it right again by making to the top buttons easy to press. It takes just a tad less force to press the top buttons than the main buttons on the directional pad.
One of the games I used to test the controller was Need for Speed Underground. I did test the controller in other games, but I have tried this game on other force feedback controllers. Although this game has force feedback capabilities, I had to install Logitech's controller software before the force-feedback worked in the game. Turning the car left and right worked flawlessly with both the directional and analog control. The force-feedback mechanism is neither too strong or too soft which is nice. If it was too strong, then your hands would be aching after a long period of time with the controller. I did encounter a minor issue with the force-feedback with the controller. Having been used to the game with a Saitek P2500 controller, I found the Logitech RumblePad 2's force feedback less distinct. Whenever I would turn or even crash into the car, I would feel a similar rumble. On the Saitek, whether it be crashing into a car, or entering a sidewalk, I found the effects a little more natural. I could feel better whether I was hitting a car or grinding against the side of the road. This might have to do with the slightly thicker shell casing of the controller. I would recommend a thinner shell casing instead so you can feel the force-feedback vibration better. Since I have smaller thumbs, I did find myself pressing the vibration button constantly because that is where I usually find the 'Start' button. I would prefer if Logitech switched the '9' and '10' buttons with the position of the 'Vibration' and 'Mode' buttons. In addition, the buttons at the center of the controller are hard to read, so I would like them to be more legible.
Logitech came really close to making an almost perfect controller. I was very satisfied that Logitech managed to create a controller that mastered the basics in design and control. This is something that most manufacturers can't even get over. Logitech has managed to create a very durable controller that will surely find its way to many people's computers. With the wireless and force-feedback features, this controller is packed with technology that will definitely last a while with the purchase of this controller. At the price of $39.99, it is just a tad more expensive than other force-feedback controllers because it has been just released. If you are tired of going through multiple controllers that are simply unsatisfying, the Logitech RumblePad 2 will definitely meet your needs and will stay with you for a long time.