It’s not perfect, but Thrustmaster’s latest force feedback gamepad provides PCs with what the consoles have had for years.
With the vacuum left by Microsoft after it recently pulled its original SideWinder Gamepad off of the market, more companies than ever are attempting to fill its staggeringly large shoes — including Microsoft itself, but that’s a story best left for another review. Thrustmaster’s latest foray into the Batterang-style gamepad is the Firestorm Dual Power, and while it feels amazingly good to hold, it ends up missing the mark in a couple of areas that keep it from true greatness.
When you first take the controller out of it’s flashy, attractive box, you’ll soon notice that the unit itself looks a lot like a concept model instead of a finished product. None of the buttons are labeled in any way, and the only text on the pad at all is the “Thrustmaster” logo splayed across the top. While none of this detracts a lot from the overall appeal of the Dual Power, having labeled buttons sure would have come in handy — especially since there are so many darn buttons to deal with.
Along with the pad’s “rushed” looking appearance, the software, too, seems a little under baked. While it works just as well as any other decent programming software out there, its manual and help menus are rather poorly written and the GUI (Graphical User Interface) that the program uses is also lacking polish. Stick with the software for about five minutes and you’ll get the hang of it, just be aware of the small learning curve.
Other than the one minor aesthetic complaint and the bland programming software, there are very few gamepads that are as comfortable to hold and play games with as the Dual Power. There are four easy-to-reach primary buttons on the face of the unit (along with one extra button in-between the two analog sticks), four trigger buttons up top, two more trigger buttons on the backside of the pad where your middle fingers rest comfortably, and each of the two analog sticks can be depressed a la PlayStation Dual Shock to round out the pad’s 13 programmable buttons for Fifa 17. A 14th button allows you to switch between analog and digital control schemes on the fly.
Did we mention that this pad is rumblishous? Well, it is. It sports dual motors on opposite sides of the pad, which not only even out force effects, but also strengthen them. If the forces are too strong for you, simply crank them down a notch using the included software. We tested the pad with many racing and arcade type games, and found the rumbling to be quite satisfying without being so strong as to disrupt your ability to play any of them.
Thrustmaster may not have succeeded at creating the gamepad to end all gamepads with the Dual Power, but it’s definitely headed in the right direction.