The old fashioned joystick
The popularity of real time strategy and first person shooter games has thrust the mouse into the spotlight as the most important gaming controller. This is only a recent development though. Things were a lot different when most games were side scrolling platform jumpers. "Back in the day," when video games meant heading down to the video arcade, or breaking out the 2600, the gaming controller of choice was the joystick. You old timers might remember the tiny black plastic and rubber Atari joystick with the single orange button. I can't count how many of those my brothers and I wore down and broke with our rabid game playing. Joystick technology has come a long way since then. Today there are sticks that range all across the spectrum, from the cheap two button jobbers that aren't that much more advanced than the old Atari sticks, all the way on up to deluxe force feedback sticks with 20 buttons that cost more than your CPU or video card.
Too many choices!
There are so many more choices today than there were the last time I bought a joystick 6 or 7 years ago. When I purchased my first (and only) PC joystick, there were really only two brands that I knew about - Thrustmaster and CH Products. I got a CH Flightstick Pro, which has gone strong all those years and is still going strong now. Today several other brands have come on the scene with their own quality joysticks - these include Microsoft, Mad Catz, Saitek, Act-Labs, and of course, Logitech. Lately, Logitech has shifted a lot of their focus toward dominating not just the mouse market, but gaming controllers as a whole. They have a whole line of controllers under the "Wingman" name, ranging from gamepads (like their Gamepad Extreme
), to wheels (Formula Force
), to joysticks, and even mice like the gaming mouse
The Wingman Extreme Digital 3D
Among the newest entries to the Wingman line of gaming controllers is the "Wingman Extreme Digital 3D Joystick" (which will be referred to as the ED3D for the rest of the review). The feature set and price of the ED3D places it right into the mid-range of joysticks. This means that this kind of joystick is going to appeal to the broadest spectrum of gamers. It's not fancy enough to satisfy the super hardcore flight sim player, but at the same time it's got enough features to play most action games like Descent 3, Freespace, Mechwarrior 3, etc. It's also a lot more feature packed and sturdy than a bargain stick.