At last year's E3, Sony displayed a prototype controller for its upcoming console, the PlayStation 3. The boomerang-shaped wireless device was something of a lightning rod, and didn't seem like it was terribly well-received. This year, Sony has unveiled the final controller, and it should look pretty familiar.
The PS3's controller now looks roughly like a Dual Shock 2. The size and button placement seems identical. But there are a handful of key differences. You'll feel right at home when you pick it up, but this controller has definitely evolved.
For starters, it's wireless and startlingly lightweight. The Bluetooth device has a mini-USB plug on it, presumably for charging. The L2 and R2 triggers are analog and feel quite nice. There's a new central button that has the PlayStation logo on it. It doesn't seem to be functional, but it seems like a likely spot for some sort of "home" or "menu" button.
The biggest change is inside the controller. There are motion-sensing gyroscopes inside the controller that will detect tilting as well as raising and lowering. We get the feeling that wii've seen this in another upcoming console, but we'll save that discussion for message boards or something. Warhawk is one of the games that supports the tilt sensor, and it feels surprisingly tight and easy to use. Flying the plane by tilting the controller is very intuitive.
One thing you won't find in this new controller is force feedback. The rumble feature was said to interfere with the motion sensing devices. Sony's Phil Harrison even went so far as to tell us that "rumble was last generation, movement is this generation."
We also managed to bump into Criterion's Alex Ward at Sony's grand unveiling, and he said he was really excited about the controller, saying that he "can really see how it fits in his games." We imagine a Burnout game can't be too far behind.
So if you wanted to be a cynic, you could say that this is a wireless PS2 controller with analog triggers like the Xbox, a central guide button like the Xbox 360, and internal motion sensors like the Wii. But what's probably most important is that the controller feels pretty nice and already seems to work well.
CNET.com.au will be at E3 all week covering the latest Playstation 3 developments, so be sure to keep checking our special E3 page for updates!