The GAME:PAD 4 S is a third party wired controller compatible with the PlayStation 4 range of consoles and is manufactured by snakebyte – available in black, grey and striking blue camo-style colour schemes. I’ve spent the last few weeks putting the controller through its paces across a range of games to see how it measures up to the mighty Dualshock 4.
Aside from the GAME:PAD 4 S’s integrated three meters long USB cable, the first thing I noticed was the controllers form factor, as it looks somewhat like a hybrid of the Dualshock and Xbox One controller. The grips are noticeably shorter and more angular than Sony’s controller, with the face flatter and ever so slightly wider. All face and shoulder buttons are present, albeit with smaller Share and Options buttons squeezed between the thumbsticks and touchpad. On closer inspection, the controller is missing the mic/headphone port at the bottom and lightbar at the top, with blank fascia plates where they should be.
The length of the GAME:PAD’s cable lends itself well to modern day gaming with consoles occupying space in living rooms, as the three-metre cord easily spans the distance between console and couch. Once I’d connected the controller to one of my PS4’s USB ports and settled myself on the sofa, I instinctively pressed the home button in order to boot the console up, only to be met with no response and a walk back to the TV stand to switch the console on manually; a first-world problem if ever there was one, but irksome nonetheless.
During gameplay, the GAME:PAD’S buttons respond without lag whether playing a frantic paced beat em up or an action adventure game, the same can be said of the touchpad, D-pad and thumbsticks (including a rather loud click when pressing L3 or R3). Rather than the textured grips on the Dualshock, the controller has four small notches that stop one’s thumbs from slipping. The controller also has dual vibration units in-built into the grips, feeding back at the same strength that a Dualshock would.
As much as the GAME:PAD does its job, I did encounter a few issues mainly due to its shape and button position. When playing a game using the thumbsticks, I found that they stand a few millimetres prouder that the Dualshock’s – whilst this doesn’t sound much it really is noticeable, especially during extended periods; in fact, I felt my hands cramping up after only an hour due to having to stretch my thumbs a little further in order to reach them.
The placement of the Share and Options buttons meant moving my thumbs at an awkward angle if I needed to press either of them. Also, the GAME:PAD lacks an inbuilt accelerometer, which renders it useless when playing any games requiring any form of motion; this means that playing games in VR is an obvious non-starter, as the majority are based on motion controls.
In conclusion, the GAME:PAD 4 S does a good job as a lower-priced secondary controller, perfect for use during gaming sessions with friends or family; or as a backup controller should your Dualshock need to be recharged mid-game. Unfortunately, due to the controller’s uncomfortable form and oddly placed buttons, I don’t see it becoming my primary controller anytime soon, but by the same token won’t gather dust due to lack of use.