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AFTERGLOW AX.1 for the Xbox 360
Score: 59%
Developer: Performance Designed Products
Device Type: Controller


Function:

Of course, the first thing you notice the AFTERGLOW AX.1 for is its clear body and bright LEDs that light it up. Wow, it is really bright. You could find your way around a dark cave with this thing. Well, if you had a 360 and a really long extension cord. The lights can be turned off if they're too distracting. Without the lights, the controller still has that cool clear factor, and it's interesting to check out the inner workings of the controller. Back to lights, there are two settings for having the lights on. One will only light up when the controller rumbles, and one stays on constant. Playing a few rounds of mercenaries in Resident Evil 5 pretty much made me turn off the rumble reaction mode after a few minutes, as it was really distracting. Still, it could be a good strategy for distracting your opponent in two player games.

This is also a wired controller, so it comes with all those pros and cons. The major advantage is that you can take this controller from your 360 to your PC since it's a USB connection. Of course, the main disadvantage is that, well, it's got a wire. It's about 9 ft. in length, so it will work for most setups. If you're that person who has a huge entertainment cabinet where your 360 is already 5 ft. off the ground, then I imagine you already know you're going to have a problem.

On a side note, or perhaps not a side note if you're a stickler for quality, the Guide or Home button, the one with the big "X" on it that has a metal etched 3D look on the standard controller, is just a flat sticker under a slightly convex clear plastic cover. For a controller that's all about lighting up and looking flashy, the "X" logo here doesn't light up at all, where it would be a great place to do so. Either way, the fact that it's just a sticker detracts a bit from the visual quality of the controller, and gives you the feeling that corners may have been cut elsewhere as well.


Performance:

As for the nuts and bolts of the AFTERGLOW AX.1, the first thing I noticed was that it has a lot of play in it. I'm used to more immediate response when I move the Analog Sticks, and on this controller, you can wiggle them around in a surprisingly large arc before it responds. We're not talking something that can't be overcome after some practice, but it is definitely a factor in the first impression. The Back and Start buttons are also slightly off from where they are on the standard 360 controller, but again, nothing you can't get over with practice.

The thing that was the most troublesome about this controller was its tendency to "hold" directions in certain games. In some areas, after moving the Left Analog Stick, the movement would continue in whatever direction you last pressed. This is just not good. The game I discovered this problem with was Mass Effect 2, in the galaxy map areas. It made the map a fight against the controller to get anything done, often wasting the Normandy's valuable fuel. This alone made me want to drop the controller and pick up my standard controller, but there were more problems. In the part of the game where you select your team, the confirm button simply didn't work the first time. You have to press the button twice to get a reaction. This isn't like the occasional calibration problem where the controller is just stuck in a certain direction and you need to reset your console to recalibrate the controller. Either way, I tried restarting several times and letting the controller calibrate itself, which didn't resolve the problem. My fellow reviewers also tried a second identical controller with the exact same results, proving that this isn't a defective controller, it's a problem with all the AFTERGLOW controllers for the 360 only. Again, not a problem with every game I played, but when you run into an issue where you have to switch controllers to make it through a game, it's not good at all. Once again, it should be noted that this doesn't seem to be a problem with the Wii and PS3 versions of this controller.


Features:
  • Clear Casing
  • LED Lighting with 2 Different Settings
  • Wired Controller with USB

Drawbacks & Problems::

I haven't seen the major problems I found described in other reviews, so it's possible that I found one incompatible game. Still, if any game is incompatible with a controller, it makes you think. Beyond the incompatibility, I didn't enjoy the excessive play in the Analog Sticks. The LEDs were simply an afterthought at that point. After all, what good is a controller that makes you work for it, instead of the opposite? Unfortunately, I'd recommend spending a bit more for the standard controller until we see the next (hopefully improved) generation of these controllers.

-Fights with Fire, GameVortex Communications
AKA Christin Deville

Related Links:



Sony PlayStation 3 AFTERGLOW AP.1 for the PS3 Generic RetroN 3

 
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