Over the last few weeks I’ve been gaming with a pair of new controllers for the Xbox 360 and the PS3, made by Performance Designed Products. Called Afterglow controllers, they are made of a transparent plastic with an interior that sports a number of LEDs, providing its namesake glow. At first glance I thought they looked cool, but was worried that the glow would turn out to be a distracting gimmick as the selling point for an inferior product.

I was wrong, and I’m happy I was.

Both controllers feel tight and responsive, arguably more so than the official models for both systems, which feel more loose. The biggest pointin favor of these of the PS3 PDP model however, is that it differs in a number of ways from the standard Sony design, bringing it closer to that of the 360 controller why I know many gamers (including myself) would love. The large left and right buttons have been replaced by more trigger-like buttons, and the left thumbstick and D-Pad are switched around. The D-Pad is an actual D-Pad, instead of four separate buttons, and the right side buttons are smaller. The controller overall is actually slightly smaller, with grooves on the handles for your middle fingers to rest, as opposed to the smooth bottom of the regular controller. The thumbsticks themselves have a concave top, like the 360, rather than the convex sticks of the official controller – another issue some multiplatform console gamers have pointed out as an undesirable design choice in the past.

With a significantly lower retail price of $29.99, not all is comparable to the official PS3 and Xbox 360 controllers. One issue that may affect some people’s choice is the lack of motion support, so anyone who wants to play a game requiring motion control will find themselves out of luck with this. That being said, the biggest selling point (one of two) is that of the product’s value. It’s hard to find fully operational and well-designed third party controllers for PS3 and Xbox 360 and this fills that void.

The second selling point of PDP’s Afterglow controllers are of course the glow, which I intially figured would be at best an interesting gimmick, or at worst a distraction while gaming. Instead, it’s actually quite a nice effect, and I prefer its aesthetics to the standard white or black controllers normally available. Also, I didn’t find the glow to be at all distracting. With that said, I almost always played with the light on, as each controller actually allows you to set the light to on, off, or vibrate, in which it will only illuminate whenever theres vibration. In a dark room, having it light it up could be distracting to some people, though I didn’t find it so. Normally, I prefer to have it on, and it can add some atmosphere to a darkened room while you play.

The main issue you may find with these controllers is the fact that they are wired. If you’re like me and don’t mind a wired controller, especially when the room I currently play games in is small enough that a wired controller is a perfect fit, than that’s not a factor. But, I also don’t have worry about keeping a controller charged or having fresh batteries on hand so that’s a plus.

Here’s some images of the glow controllers – You can see that they also have PDP Afterglow products for the Nintendo Wii and better yet, they’ll have a line of products for the upcoming Tron Legacy film and associated tie-in games (Tron: Evolution).

One problem I did encounter with the PS3 controller is from a quality standpoint and this may be expected with the lower price tag. When pressing down on the left thumbstick, it doesn’t seem to function. Perhaps I played the rare lemon of the batch so this doesn’t mean one way or another that these controllers are more prone to breakage, and I’ll be in touch shortly with the manufacturer to see about getting it fixed or replaced, but it’s something worth noting.

Let’s recap!

The Pros:

  • Value & Giftability
  • Glow Effect
  • Feel and Design
  • Button Layout (notably in the case of the PS3 model)
  • No batteries necessary

The Cons:

  • Wired (hence, no batteries)
  • Lacks motion (in the case of the PS3 model)
  • Precision in hardcore shooters if you’re accustomed to stiffer thumbsticks
  • Quality concern on the thumbstick buttons

Overall, I found these controllers to be an excellent alternative to the official brand. The glow feature turned out to be very cool and for me, they feel better than regular controllers. How they play compared to the official controllers is aguable but if you’re looking for that second controller to play with a friend, or are looking to complete ┬áset of four controllers for local play, then this is absolutely for you. It also makes an excellent gift for any gamer, especially with the glow which sets it apart from the alternatives in a big way. Another biggie is the PS3 design replicating the design of the Xbox 360 controller which for me is an instant sell.

The best part? These controllers retail for $29.99 each, a much greater deal than the official models, and well worth it if you’re in the market for a new one.

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