The unveiling of the official PlayStation 3 controller design provided the finale of Sony's opening-night E3 press conference. As widely expected, the much-ridiculed "boomerang" controller concept that Sony had been showing since last year's E3 is gone, replaced by a design that's all but identical to the beloved analog controller of the current PlayStation 2. As previously announced, the controller uses Bluetooth wireless technology to interact with the PlayStation 3 sans the need for cables. The PS3 will support up to seven such controllers.
The retro design notwithstanding, the bigger news is the addition of motion control to the PS3 controller. A direct challenge to Nintendo's motion-sensitive Wii "nunchuck" controller, the PS3 gamepad provides gamers with gyroscope sensors that detect movement in six directions. An live onstage demonstration of Warhawk put the controller's motion sensitivity to the test, with the onscreen fighter craft ably echoing the player's banking, dipping, and elevating of the controller.
While the possibilities offered by the unexpected motion-control feature of the PS3 controller will no doubt be welcomed by fans, the controller lacks the force-feedback vibration function found in its PlayStation predecessors (according to GameSpot's Jeff Gerstman, who got an early look at the controller). Whether the vibration function was dropped because it interfered with the motion-control capabilities (as claimed by Sony) or because it presented a copyright hurdle is anybody's guess.
Photo credit (bottom image): GameSpot