Tuesday, April 6, 2010

AA First Impressions - Hori Real Arcade Pro EX-SE

To me at least it's worthless to be into arcade games without an arcade stick. Yes I'm well aware that some people can't get enough of controllers with pads and some crazies actually like using the analog sticks for anything besides dual-stick shooters. This is just my personal preference so whatever's whatever.

The Hori EX-2 was my last joystick and I picked it up along with Virtua Fighter 5 on the 360. It's a competent stick and serviceable for my needs but since I've managed to put together some extra cash an upgrade was in order. Enter the EX-SE. This monster of a stick costs more than twice as much but to me at least it's so worth it.

First thing's first is the weight and size. The EX2 is just a bit and a bit too small for maximum comfort. The EX-SE is a bit bulkier and wider but it feels more comfortable in my lap or on a table. The extra weight also gives it a better feel and adds to the comfort. The additional sturdiness is also welcome as I tend to be the aggressive type while playing. The wider base also allows for my entire left hand to rest comfortably. The EX2 just doesn't provide enough room in this regard.

The stick and the buttons are what really impressed me. I didn't think much of the stick at first but when actually playing a game it feels like such an improvement. The buttons are just amazing as their sensitivity is flawless and the feeling they provide is natural and simply wonderful. Having all eight of the 360's main buttons properly formatted is a nice touch even if I can't think of many games that actually use them all.

My only complaint at the moment is the black finish means a lot of sweat accumulated from playing games makes its way from my hands to where they touch the face of the stick. This is nitpicking and to some that sweat might feel like a badge of honor, like notches on the bed-post or something (yeah I'm terrible with analogies).

The price is something you have to consider. Depending on how serious you take your arcade gaming you might be better off with a Hori EX2 or even a default pad. A popular option with the truly hardcore is investing in a custom built stick. The EX-SE represents that upper-middle tier for those who just can't justify the scratch or the time for a custom but don't want to settle for anything less.

Since this controller supports not only the 360 but pretty much anything available on a PC this just might be the last arcade stick I'll ever need. I haven't spent nearly enough time to give this my full recommendation but for now at least it feels so worth it.

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