July 21, 2018
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Manufacturer: Saitek
Min OS X: Any Version    Requires: USB Port


P880 Dual Analog Pad
May 14, 2003 | Ken Leyden
Pages:12

To put the P880 pad through its paces, I focused my gameplay testing on two games at nearly opposite ends of the spectrum ... the first-and-third-person shooter Jedi Knight II: Jedi Outcast and the retro-gaming tour-de-force MacMAME.

When configuring the software for JK2, I attempted to model my control scheme on that used by the PS2 and XBOX game consoles for similar games (analog sticks for freelook and movement, shoulder buttons for primary fire/alternate fire, and the remaining face-front buttons for miscellaneous tasks like weapon selection and inventory management). Overall my impression is positive. This Saitek unit is a competent gamepad, but there are a couple shortcomings that I think are worth noting. After a few encounters with the Empire's finest on planets spread across the known galaxy, I found that the P880's thumbsticks didn't offer the level of resistance to which I am accustomed (in the end, coming off feeling a bit too loose and sloppy for my taste). Additionally, the shoulder buttons are a bit too mushy which could reduce your rate-of-fire at a critical moment.

The P880 really shone with MacMAME, however, most likely due to the simpler non-analog control schemes that arcade classics require. I test-played Xenophobe, Tempest, Defender, Asteroids, and Xybots for this review and had a total blast! The whole "MAME" experience is greatly enhanced by using a gamepad over keyboard/mouse control (I don't even think computer mice existed when Asteriods was brand-new to the arcades). One word of caution when using MacMAME and USB device driver software: since each different ROM file uses a slightly different key setup, you will need to experiment with several different configurations until you find one that allows you to play the games you like without having to reconfigure the gamepad between different games.

While my gaming experience with the P880 was pleasant enough, I'm not sure that I can strongly recommend the unit to most gamers. While it fulfills the basic requirements of a gamepad adequately enough, there is nothing uniquely compelling to me personally in its physical design to set it apart from competitor's products (especially those from Belkin and MacAlly which offer first-party Mac support for their game-specific controllers). The P880 shares the same issue I have with the first-party Sony Dual Shock controller for the PS2 ... I personally find the thumb angle awkward when using the analog sticks exclusively for freelook and movement (I feel that my thumbs are always way too hyperextended toward my chest), and the right-side front-face buttons are a bit too much of a stretch when sharing time with that right analog stick (for total comfort, I prefer the asymmetric stick layout of the first-party Microsoft original XBOX controller). While I have nothing against the Game Pad Companion and USB-Overdrive shareware products, I am appalled that a present-day Mac gamer would need to first pay for the gamepad hardware and *then* pay an additional premium for the driver software just get the pad to work with the widest array of Mac game titles (read as: those not supporting HID).

Considering all these factors, I can only recommend the Saitek P880 gamepad without reservations to those gamers who have tried the pad in-store and prefer the feel, or for those users who already own a license of a compatible third-party USB device driver to ensure it will work with your favorite game. If you are a Mac-gaming first-time gamepad buyer, you would do much better to check out the MacAlly iShock II first. Perhaps at some time in the future all games will be HID-enabled and it won't matter so much, but alas we are not there quite yet.



P880 Dual Analog Pad
Manufacturer: Saitek


Pages:12




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