The Joy of Gamepads

I was a strictly mouse and keyboard guy, relying on my non-analog Gravis Gamepad Pro for emulators and old school side scrollers. I never owned an N64, I hardly ever used the analog stick on my Dreamcast, and why the hell would you even dream of playing an FPS with one?

I never wanted one, I resisted as long as I could, but I broke down and bought a Xbox 360 a year or so back when the "exclusives" for the console were looking pretty good. Ok, actually it was really for a single title, one little game that really doesn't hit on many radars: The Darkness. I watched an HD Trailer for that game so many times that it's still on my Players #1 spot. It catered to my tastes in all the right ways and it was never coming to the PC. *Sigh*

No keyboard and mouse was a horribly foreign place to play, I newb'ed it up for hours trying to re-program muscle memory for this wireless frustration. Blundering through, learning to strafe more and look less was the opposite of the PC gaming experience. How anybody could win a deathmatch game with one of these was beyond me but I plodded through and eventually learned to hone this new tool effectively.

As my fixation for my new toy receded, I went back to playing games on the PC (Sweet, I can aim again, this is awsome). I went out with my rekindled joy and purchased BioShock to celebrate, a fantasic game that is slower paced and meant to be explored. As I ran around the levels I realized I was blasting past all the scenery and focusing on the action, so I tried to slow down a bit and smell the roses as it were - it wasn't working. I felt I was fast-forwarding a movie to get to a scene I wanted to watch, every time I jumped from looking to moving it jarred me out of the experience. Feeling disconnected, I glanced over at my 360 controller and chanced to plug it in.

Suddenly I felt I was back in the game, I was a director panning and moving the camera for a more dramatic and immersive experience. I followed everything from action moments to running water with the precision and smoothness of a great movie, and sneaking up on an enemy had never felt so realistic. I could remember so many games that required you to walk with an NPC and having to tap the W key repeatedly to stay with them and hear what was being said, an analog gamepad would have been ideal.

Let me say that I would never suggest, nor try to play any pure action-based or multiplayer PC game with a gamepad but transitioning from the 360 to the PC version of Mass Effect (I swear they said 360 exclusive) was a curse and a blessing. Yes I could aim with ridiculous precision in a firefight, but sprinting in to a bar and slamming into NPC's left and right until you get to your objective kills the immersion.

So my stint with the Xbox did have fruit to bear, I will defiantly prowl the halls of BioShock 2 with my 360 controller while I headshot the zombies of L4D2 with my mouse and keyboard, but both are now required tools for a more complete experience to me.

Don't be afraid to give it a shot, there was a time when aiming with a mouse was a foreign idea.
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