Thrustmaster GPX LightBack for Xbox 360 Review
This game was reviewed on the Xbox 360
Are you a casual fan of racing games who wants to get a bit of an edge over the competition but aren’t hardcore enough to invest in a racing wheel? Well, then do I have a solution for you in the form of the Thrustmaster GPX LightBack for the Xbox 360! Coming from a company known for its quality racing gear, this controller is sure to give you a lot of bang for your buck!
Right off the bat, users will notice the controller’s aesthetics and feel. The device features a simple wired design that’s less rounded and slightly smaller than a first party controller – both in general shape and button design. Two small ridges also flow up from the bottom of the handles and eventually shift to the left side of the device, giving it a small degree of flair. As well, the GPX is made of textured material for the shell, which makes it both comfortable and easy to grip. All in all, the controller is very visually appealing – helping players race in style!
However, a few things make the controller truly noteworthy – mainly the built-in lights, standard D-Pad, and trigger shape. Starting with the latter, the controller’s triggers are considerably more ergonomic and practical. Instead of simple flat, boxy triggers as seen on most first- and third-party controllers, the GPX LightBack sports a more complex design that has been slightly elongated and curved to better fit the natural arch of one’s fingers. The extra length and shape serves two purposes: to prevent fingers from slipping off while bearing down on the throttle/brakes, as well as creating a small lip to give the trigger a complete stop, instead of stopping via non-visual internal means. This style is absolutely brilliant, making for an incredibly comfortable and accurate experience across all genres.
To the joy of many gamers, the GPX also features a standard four-way D-Pad. The Hat design of the original Xbox controller has always been a complaint amongst users, one that Thrustmaster hopes to correct. Unfortunately though, this controller has its own issues. Overall the D-Pad feels very stiff, and takes slightly more than an average amount of pressure to get a game to sense the input, leading to a few presses failing – especially in rapid movements. It appears to just need time to be broken in; but until that point, it’s a real off-and-on affair, which will upset many gamers.
Another key feature of the device is its two sets of built-in LED lights: one set on the top-front, and the other under the thumbsticks – each illuminating at certain inputs. The two sets of four lights on the front of the controller shine at different degrees of trigger pressure (the three green ones light at 15%, 35%, and 55%, whereas the last red one hits at 75%) in order to better show just how hard you’re kicking the accelerator and brake pedals. For racing fans looking to be more accurate in their control, this can be a godsend. On the other hand, the lights under the stick are purely for show, only turning on while the controller is rumbling. Regardless if they’re for form or function, these lights give the GPX a considerable amount of flair. Don’t worry though, they can be shut off if you find them distracting.
However, obvious as this statement may be, the lights are only useful as long as you’re looking at them. Do me a quick solid and grab your controller, I’ll wait if you need to find it. Ok, now take a seat in front of your TV and mimic playing a game. Take notice of where you naturally have the controller in relation to your eyes. Chances are it’s sitting around your lap, fairly out of view. This position is fairly common as it requires very little effort to hold, and most gamers have their controllers mapped out by muscle memory so there is no reason to stare at it. This simply means that in order to truly get the most out of the lightshow, you need to break your habit and hold the gamepad just under your TV in your line of sight (or lower if you have good peripheral vision). However, for most racing fans this won’t be a problem – holding your controller up that high can cause it to feel like a steering wheel!
While the GPX is a great piece of hardware to own, there is one other issue you’ll need to know: it won’t support most accessories. The general shape of the device is considerably comfortable, but it prevents additions like chatpads or thumbstick extenders, and the single mic hole means some headsets are incompatible – which is where you’ll feel the most pain. Even though you’re probably picking this one up for its simplicity, you’re still not left with many additional options.
When the checkered flag is waved, however, racing fans everywhere will notice the quality of the Thrustmaster GPX LightBack. Although you need to work in the D-Pad, and you won’t be able to slap any attachments on it, it’s amazingly comfortable feel and triggers make it one of the best third-party devices out there. Whether you’re looking for an edge on the racetrack or simply something different, this is a controller for you!
Final Score: 4.5 and pole position in the great controller race!
About This Post