Games are great, we all know that. But, we as gamers have always been looking for ways to make the game more realistic. We've gone the route of 3D graphics and first person perspectives, 3D immersive sounds, and force feedback technology which attempts to let us feel the results of our on-screen actions via our controller. Now, joysticks and steering wheels are best at this because they can provide directional force, meaning they can actively push in the directions intended by the on-screen action. When you get rubbed on the NASCAR track the wheel pulls in whichever direction the software indicates it should. When flying in a cross-wind you may feel the joystick pulling at you while you try to correct for it. These two devices pay a price for this ability, sheer bulk. These things are heavy due to the motors involved. I have yet to see a game pad that handles force feedback like this due to one simple reason, a game pad is limited in size due to the nature of how they are used. A game pad must be lightweight in order to be held in your hands and the directional pad wouldn't be conducive to appreciable feedback. Even the small sticks used on feedback enabled game pads are a little on the small side to even attach two precision motors to. In an attempt to add an acceptable form of force feedback to a game pad companies have installed a small motor with an offset weight much like in a pager. This motor can be spun at varied speeds resulting in sensations that are perceived as reactions to on-screen trigger events. In this review we will look at the use of this technology in the Gravis Eliminator Aftershock and determine whether its the last game pad you'll ever own or a valentine's gift for your better half when you're out of town.
The Gravis Eliminator Aftershock is a handsome little number with a total of ten buttons for those who never want to let go to use the keyboard, a directional pad and two thumb sticks with "precision" buttons which reduce response of the sticks for more precise actions such as aiming. When you open the box you will find the controller, a quick start manual, and a cd with Gravis' Xperience 4.3 software and the necessary driver on it.
This is a USB based controller and thats great as I prefer USB controllers to other serial/gameport based units, but a word of warning. While this pad works very well in Windows 98 and ME, Windows 2000 users cannot install the Xperience software, will not get any force feedback and will be at the mercy of the generic game pad driver provided by Microsoft. Apple users too are short changed. The game pad does work with InputSprocket but Macintosh games and InputSprocket do not support force feedback. As you will find out further on in the review, you may be able to overlook this lack of the controllers primary feature as I find this to be one helluva game pad even with no feedback whatsoever.