If there’s anything that the PlayStation 4 reveal has taught us, it’s that consoles, and the games we play on them, no longer matter. Fortunately I have managed to get my hands on the thing that we all do care about: the DualShock 4. Here is my exclusive review, in which I run through all the key features of the controller:
The X button
Where else could one start but with the X button. Sony fans will be pleased to hear that this new X button retains the emphicity that’s been a hallmark of the DualShock series. The X button has always been the button of “YES,” and it’s no exaggeration to say that I literally found myself shouting that over and over as I pressed the DualShock 4’s X, slipping into a strange semi-aware trance state in which I seemed doomed to repeat the word to infinity. I was only snapped out of my affirminating reverie by the chill of a thin veil of spittle that had accumulated upon my bear arms, flecked by the sibilant sounds that punctuated every proclamation of “YES” that I made. A good sign, indeed.
The Square button
In terms of the face buttons, it’s clear that the Square button is the one that’s had the most attention from Sony in what amounts to a radical overhaul of the DualShock stalwart. Rumors would have us believe that this latest iteration of the button is an astounding 60% more technical than its predecessor, and you’ll be pleased to hear that my experience of pressing it leads me to believe that this is likely an accurate figure. But not only that – alongside this technological quantum leap, the new Square button has an on-the-edge tensionicity that sent my heart racing and left me clammy to the touch after only one minute of mild pressing. It is no exaggeration to say that this is the most intense Square button we have ever seen in the DualShock series. Quite simply, astonishing.
The Circle button
As we all know, the Circle button has always had a certain sense of fun about it and, for the most part, this iteration retains the quirkiness that has earned the button a place in all our hearts. Be warned, however, that the charming uncertainty the Circle button has always possessed has now taken on an edge of belligerent petulance. It seems that Sony is trying to make this button grow up, and there can be no doubt that this sullies the legacy of the button somewhat. Saying that, I still found myself regularly laughing out loud as I pressed Circle, at one point even choking on the sage and onion stuffing with which I had made an ad-hoc sandwich. It shouldn’t be funny, because I almost died. The fact that it was tells you all you need to know about what Sony has managed to achieve with this new Circle button.
The Triangle button
A button that has traditionally provided balance to its cousin across the way, the X button, the Triangle button has always been defined by finesse. Unfortunately, this smooth operator has been operated on by something not smooth, like a pineapple or something, so that it is now less smooth. In short, this new triangle button feels like it’s lost a little of the class that was so readily apparent in its predecessors. It’s still a great button, but for this traditionalist, it just feels a little too brash.
The Share Button
As I depressed the Share button for the first time, I got the distinct impression that I was standing atop a breezy hillock, my “junk” (as you American readers are apt to call it) exposed not only to the elements, but to the scrutiny of the world at large. Further presses led me to hear whispers in my ear, as if the Share button were desperately pleading with me to join with it in some kind of unholy symbiosis fuelled by narcissism and self-hatred. In summary: a cloying and unnerving button with the potential to existentially cripple the user.
The Analogue sticks
As if trying to prevent our thumbs from subconsciously straying towards the place where the analogue sticks should be, a small rim has been added to the circumference of each stick. Indeed, I did find that these periphery rims gently held my wondering digits in place. Perhaps I should resent the sticks for this act of subtle totalitarianism, but the truth is that I don’t. Instead, I found myself tenderly tracing the line of the rim, my thumb tingling as it rolled over the microbobbles that blanket the sticks’ surface. These are the most graceful analogue sticks in DualShock history and I like stroking the rim.
The Light Bar
As many readers will be aware, the DualShock 4 comes equipped with a light bar that can do all the colors. In order to get the full experience of the new light bar, I lay flat on my back in a darkened room and rested the light bar directly over my eyeballs. Disappointingly, it was around eight hours before I started to experience any kind of audio-visual hallucination. Even then, things didn’t really kick off until I supplemented the experience with a hefty dose of mescaline. I shouldn’t have had to do this – a real letdown.
If you close your eyes and connect your DualShock 4 to your router with string and cellotape, you can pretend that the touchpad allows you to feel your way around cyberspace, as if you are William Gibson’s Case, but without the capacity to get any visual sense of the Net. This is quite boring, however. It is still more effective to glue some old wires to a cycle helmet and walk around your home with a blindfold on, pretending that you are navigating the complex security protocols of a top secret government computer system and not just stumbling around your flat as if partially debilitated by barbiturates, dressed as a cyborg from the worst B-movie ever.
The Start Button
It’s still all squishy, like the remnants of the sage and onion sandwich that I coughed up after nearly choking while testing the Circle button. I thought they might have removed some of the squish. Does it get the party started? Not really. But it still does start, and it’s hard to ask for much more from a button labeled as such.
The Shoulder and Trigger buttons
The shoulder buttons are fine and the triggers are a bit better than the last DualShock.
A mixed bag: 7/10
Paul Walker is on that Twitter thing that they have now. His online engagement designation code is @contentbot.