Start Your Engines: GPX LightBack Ferrari F1 Edition Review
I’m honestly not much of a car guy, but even I’d notice a Ferrari tearing down the street. When one barrels by, I won’t be able to tell you about the horsepower or engine and I certainly won’t even get the year or make right. However, even knowing as little as I do, I’d still be jealous of the driver. The world famous brand isn’t just known for its automobiles, however; it has branded many more products, and a few of these are more familiar to people like me.
Thrustmaster’s latest controller, the GPX LightBack Ferrari F1 Edition, based off the enviable car, will get noticed just as much as its subject. The shape is based on the nose of the Ferrari F1 car, so the controller’s handles are thinner and slightly longer than a standard Xbox 360 controller. The GPX also sports Ferrari colours with a red and white cover, branding for companies like Shell and Fiat along the sides, and a signature from Formula 1 World Champion, Fernando Alonso.
However, looks aren’t everything Ferraris are known for; performance needs to be considered as well. Thanks to the skinnier form, more of the gamepad rests in your hand and you end up with a greater sense of control. Add a textured material on both the back shell and analog sticks, and you havemore than enough grip to keep you gaming for as long as you need.
The shoulder triggers, which are curved and longer, also enhance handling. Contoured edges make the triggers lean outward and this means they fit the natural curve of your fingers better. An extended edge on the end of both triggers will let you know when you depress the gas or brake all the way down, instead of them just disappearing into the back of the gamepad. While the sensitivity of the triggers is extremely high, it’s an asset within the GPX. You receive instantaneous feedback when you use them and end up with incredibly fine control.
The GPX sports two sets of LEDS to enhance its appearance. One set displays on the front, indicating how much pressure is being applied to the triggers. The second set rest under the sticks and reacts to vibration intensity; they glow when vibration events happen in game.
While these lights improve the aesthetics of the controller, they don’t improve the performance. If you stare at the wheel of your car while driving, you are doing something wrong. The same can be said for lights on a controller. However, if you’re not a fan of a glowing controller, switches allow you to turn these lights off.
Overall, the gamepad handles exceptionally well, but not everything is perfect with the new controller. The D-Pad is certainly better than the circular hat design on the original Xbox controller. However, the improvement has other problems. The directional buttons feel stiff and don’t provide enough of tactile feedback when pressed, and more pressure than you would expect needs to be exerted to use them.
The face buttons also feel less pronounced and slightly looser than the standard 360 gamepad. They don’t move side to side, but pushing them down feels smoother than usual. This is far more of a personal preference, but I like to feel a ‘click’ when pushing A, B, X or Y down. This is a slight issue, however, and overall this controller still feels excellent, D-Pad issues included.
Unfortunately, an enhanced shape that changes the standard 360 formula means accessories won’t be your friend. The feel of the controller can’t be argued with, and the fit in your hands is comfortable and natural. Yet, because of these differences, accessories like chatpads won’t fit, and headsets that require more than one mic hole won’t work. The controller is also wired with a USB cable which, for me, was a mixed blessing. Dealing with one more wire can be annoying, but this also means you can plug it into a computer without having a wireless receiver.
Overall, the feel of the GPX is great; it just takes a little getting used to. Like any specialized car, you won’t be able to jump in at the start and have perfect control. You’ll need to drive it as is, without accessories, and get used to a stiff D-Pad, and maybe even get used to looser face buttons depending on your preferences. On the other hand, the pad grips to your hands like crazy thanks to the textured material and the red, white and lighted design means you’ll definitely be noticed when you use it. I don’t know cars very well, but controllers are things I’ve been around for a while. This one is worth driving.
Final Score: 4.5 / 5.0
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