Xbox 360 players do not have many controller options aside from Microsoft’s official controller. Third-party options, which are usually only add-ons to the Xbox 360 controller, often give players an unfair advantage. Thrustmaster has introduced the GPX LightBack controller, which offers gamers excellent precision without sacrificing competitiveness. It is difficult not to compare Thrustmaster’s controller to Microsoft’s version. That is, after all, the main competitor on the market. Plus, the Xbox 360 controller is solid but not without flaws. The Thrustmaster GPX LightBack, which also works on PC, attempts to improve on those deficiencies. Hardcore racing gamers, who normally would splurge on a racing wheel and paddle set, will love the controller. The precise controls can also help when playing sports sims and first-person shooters.
SIZE AND SHAPE
An understated design element is the curved triggers. The left and right triggers are designed for users to easily press and hold the buttons all the way down. For racing gamers, this is a great feature that allows for maximum acceleration.
Thrustmaster sets the GPX LightBack apart from its competition with the precision in the analog sticks. The high-resolution 16-bit mini-sticks boast two times the precision in all directions than the official Xbox 360 controller. To say it is exactly twice as precise probably raises different expectations for gamers with different genre preferences but Thrustmaster has the right to brag. Players and camera angles turn with great freedom while playing Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3. Sports gamers, who often use the right analog stick for features such as the dribbling system in NBA 2K13 and FIFA 13, will notice smoother movements.
The GPX LightBack even has something to get gamers who use the D-pad excited. The often overlooked D-pad also features better precision in all eight directions. The controller uses the classic D-pad design rather than the circular pad found on the original Xbox 360 controller.
The GPX LightBack has “light back” in its name for a reason. The controller features two speed gauges that use four built-in LED lights each placed above the start and back buttons. This feature keeps track of how hard players are pressing down the left and right triggers. Hold the trigger down lightly and one bulb will light up. Pressing down as much as possible will cause all four lights to shine. Gamers have the option of turning off the lights. The light-up features are exactly what racing gamers need in a controller. Too often, it is difficult to tell if the button is being held down far enough to reach peak speeds or too far when slowing down before hitting a turn. With the speed gauges, users can take a quick peek at the light strip and adjust accordingly. More lights are included as analog stick backlights. The interactive backlighting is timed with events during gameplay. When the Xbox 360 vibrates, the lights are triggered. This is another feature aimed to help racing gamers as it serves as an added notification when their vehicle begins to lose traction. During different game genres, it serves other functions such as alerting players when they are hit while playing a shooter.
Of course, the controller is not without flaws. It is a wired unit so it will have to be plugged into the Xbox 360 via a USB port. The controller is perfect for racing games and great for multiplayer shooters but it does not necessarily give an advantage in every game. However, it also does not do anything to hinder performance while playing those games. Overall, the Thrustmaster GPX LightBack is a light controller with great precision and cool extras. Anyone looking for a controller for the Xbox 360 or PC will find plenty of value packed in this unit.
The Thrustmaster GPX LightBack controller for Xbox 360 and PC is available now for $39.99.