You might remember my Xbox 360 pad review which described it as a flawed beauty. In every respect it's a brilliant analogue pad, but its d-pad is disgustingly, embarrassingly bad. Worse than the original Xbox pad, which was already pretty average. You have to wonder about a company that makes things worse from one hardware generation to another...
But maybe Microsoft is listening. They released a Special Edition (ooh, special edition) pad with a new colour scheme and a revised d-pad. Maybe, just maybe, they got it right this time.
This new Special Edition d-pad has a feature never before seen on a gamepad: an adjustable d-pad that allows you to select either a disc-like pad, or a cross-type pad.
I'm not sure why they thought this was a good idea.
And perhaps it's more accurate to say you can select either a wobbly inaccurate disc-like pad, or a wobbly inaccurate cross-type pad.
And now, you might ask yourself: what were they thinking here? That somehow the problem was not the fundamentally flawed d-pad-in-a-crater design, but the shape of the pad itself? That perhaps fat-thumbed gamers were whinging because they kept hitting the space between the compass points accidentally?
That's not the problem. The problem is that the pad sits too high. The problem is the too-soft membrane. The problem is the ring around the pad. It clicks against the ring too early making you think it's pressed when it's not. It's so soft you can hold left and wobble it up and down to the diagonals without significant effort. None of these things have changed, so now that it's shinier and looks a little different, it's still rubbish.
It's not a complete waste of time and money. It is better, but not by a really significant amount. It feels a little better, a little clickier, a little more accurate, but if I were ranking it numerically, I'd say it's now 40% instead of 35%.
At least it doesn't cost more. Still, if you're after a decent d-pad, you're better off with the Hori pad.