Hands-on with Nyko's Zero controller

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Nyko's Zero controller beats Sony's DualShock 3 to the US market. Unlike any other third party controller out there, Nyko's Zero features both tilt and rumble functionality. We received our test unit today, and found it satisfactory. For the impatient that need rumble now (and don't want to bother importing a DualShock), the Zero will undeniably satisfy. However, there are a number of flaws in its design that make it hard to recommend whole-heartedly.

Firstly, we commend Nyko for creating such easy-to-open packaging. With a simple cut of a sticker, we were able to get the controller out -- no plastic wrap packages that threaten to cut your fingers off. Another thing we were pleasantly surprised by: the use of a detachable battery pack. Two are included in the package: the standard rechargable pack, and one that accepts AA batteries. We appreciate the flexibility.

Continuing the unboxing, we were disappointed to see that the Zero uses a dongle, just like Guitar Hero III. You will need to sacrifice one of the USB ports on your PS3 in order to use this controller. For owners of the 40GB system, this simply won't do. Sony's Bluetooth solution is obviously much more elegant, as it allows the USB ports to be free, and it makes it possible to turn on the system by pressing the PS button. The Zero cannot do that.

Once the controller syncs up to the dongle, it's pretty smooth sailing. We tested four games: Super Stardust HD, Gran Turismo 5 Prologue, Super Rub a Dub and flOw. The analog sticks were responsive, and the shoulder buttons felt good. We especially love the deep analog triggers, similar to the ones found on the Xbox 360 controller. The D-Pad, however, feels a bit too sticky, and will make noticeable clicking noises when used.

The rumble is very powerful, and made Prologue a much more engrossing experience. However, it is noticeably noisier than the DualShock controllers. The tilt works just as a SIXAXIS would: we were able to play Super Rub a Dub and flOw as we would normally. Unfortunately, we noticed that there is a problem with the syncing at times: the Triangle button seemed to activate at random intervals, even when the controller is left idle.

Nyko's Zero controller gets the job done, even if it isn't the most attractive design on the market. However, without Bluetooth connectivity and a significant price difference between it and the upcoming DualShock 3, it's hard to enthusiastically recommend. Perhaps if the DualShock 3 were coming out much later, or if it were much cheaper. If you really need a rumbling PS3 controller, consider the Zero -- but we recommend you wait until Sony's DualShock comes out.

This article was originally published on Joystiq.