Saitek Cyborg Pad –


Although consoles have taken the limelight with regards to gaming, the PC still has its avid followers, though evidently not in my local game shops where the racks of PC games have been steadily diminished to either half of one stand or even moved to the downstairs of the store.

Saitek however have stuck by PC gamers for years (my first joystick for playing Flight Simulator with was a Saitek one, and it still works) and their latest peripheral is the Cyborg Rumble Pad. Evidently styled after the Xbox 360 controller, the pad sits comfortably in my hands and feels very sturdy, if a little lightweight at first. The buttons are responsive and have a good weight to them and there are even parts that light up. It was easy to install, just plug-in and go with software provided on a disc to unlock all the features.

The magic feature of this pad is Saitek’s ‘Cyborg’ module, which allows the D-pad and left thumbstick to be interchanged depending on your preferred style of controller (Playstation or Xbox style). There’s even a little ‘cyborg’ head on the module that lights up green for Xbox-style or red for PS-style. The Cyborg module is a great little feature that is very useful, I tended to keep it in Xbox-mode most of the time, but found that switching it was no trouble, for example in fighting games, and even changing it during gameplay didn’t cause it to throw a hissy-fit as you might expect.

Cyborg 1

The D-pad itself is a double-edged sword as it is very responsive in the basic four directions (up, down, left, right) but the diagonals left a lot to be desired. When using the pad in fighting games it sometimes failed to recognise them correctly when I pressed them which is unfortunate.

My only major problem was nothing to do with the pad itself, rather the compatibility with the games themselves. I found that most FPS games on the PC don’t support gamepads, however the pad has a button marked ‘FPS’ for just such occasions. Pressing this button tricks the game into thinking that the pad is a keyboard-mouse combination with the buttons mapped to the most useful FPS keys instantly. In this mode, the pad worked really well in Half-Life 2 and Unreal Tournament 3 without any remapping of keys and was fairly successful in playing Oblivion. Bioshock was a bit of an odd one because the only pad it supports is the official Microsoft 360 controller, even though the Cyborg pad is pretty much identical, but again by using FPS mode the controller coped superbly.

The pad has another function called Precision mode where you assign a button to activate the mode and it sharpens the controls to give you more precision, like when using a sniper rifle in an FPS. The settings can also be modified with the software provided so it’s just the way you like it.

cyborgpad-2.jpg cyborgpad-3.jpg

Having said this, for FPS games, I (and presumably many others) still prefer the classic mouse-keyboard combination. The pad really came into its element when playing the demo for Lego Indiana Jones, as I was finding it downright annoying using the keyboard to navigate Lego-rope bridges and jump across gaps. Playing Need For Speed was also a joy with the Cyborg Pad, so far this is the only game that I have found that supports all the features of the pad. After getting over the initial shock of the thing vibrating furiously in my hands, when navigating seemingly flat roads, it seemed to settle down and worked very well.

So even though, in my mind, the Saitek Cyborg Rumble Pad will not replace the mouse-keyboard controls for FPS games it really brings the fun back into PC gaming for other genres, especially driving and adventure games. Above all, it’s a well designed piece of kit and the Cyborg module helps you to play any game you want in whatever way you want.