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TekSpek Gaming


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It’s a debate that’ll carry on until we have thought controlled PCs that respond to our cerebral synapses, but until then the argument over how best to move that in-game version of ourselves will continue.

Obviously, there are times when one control method is vastly better than another and this is where those specialist controllers come into their own. The Colin McRae Rally series is a good example of when a wheel is essential… the game is just to realistic to be able to make do with the pure on/off input that a keyboard feeds to the game. Similarly, a realistic flight sim like Pacific Fighters needs a joystick to provide the deftness of touch you need to avoid stalling the aircraft all the time. And then there’s the arcadey platform games that demand another controller altogether in the form of a gamepad, which again provides another level of input above the standard keyboard that makes a game like Star Wars Lego far more playable.

And that’s the main difference between a keyboard and dedicated game controller, the keyboard provides a digital on/off signal to the game, whereas a dedicated joystick, wheel or gamepad has what’s called analogue input. This means that the further you move the device, the more the car turns or plane rolls etc. This means that if you’re playing a racing game you can just turn the wheel and hold it there for a long, gradual bend, just like driving a real car. If you were using a keyboard you’d have to keep tapping the key essentially telling the game ‘full left, straight, full left, straight, full left, straight etc. until you got round the bend or in fact, went around the bend with all that key stabbing.

So, for certain types of games, a specialist controller is essential to get the best out of your purchase. The big question is, just how much do you spend and how far do you take it? And, on top of that, what options do you go for in the range of controllers to satisfy your gaming needs? Control systems for the PC can be divided into four different types all of which are to one degree or another specific for a particular game genre and all offering what could be a boggling range of options, so let’s have a look at what we’ve got.

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