PDP, also known as Performance Designed Products have been manufacturing gaming products for a long time, with prominent additions to their product line being their Mortal Kombat sticks for both MK9 and Mortal Kombat: Arcade collection. However, their newest offering is a little different: it's a "fight pad". Not something I'd heard of until the pre-launch of Mortal Kombat X, when the product was revealed as part of the GameStop Expo in late 2014, resurfacing at CES2015.
The first question I'm going to attempt to answer is a fairly obvious one. What exactly is a fightPad?
The answer is fairly simple. It's pretty much your standard controller, with 6 buttons instead of four on the right-hand side and in this case at least, a slightly larger DPad than normal. Additionally there aren't any analogue sticks, so this product won't be suitable or function properly with all games, such as first person shooters or racing games.
An important aspect to note about this particular controller however is something that I personally haven't seen a lot of, namely backwards compatibility with a previous console generation. The pad contains a switch that allows it to work with both Xbox 360 and Xbox One. However, that's not all the controller is compatible with. Because the controller is essentially no different to the first party Microsoft peripherals for the Xbox One and 360, this fightPad also works on PC. Therefore, you essentially get 3 controllers in one and even before I started testing, I understood that what I was about to review would be a good investment whatever way I looked at it!
However, let's get down to the important part that everyone will need to go through before you even begin using the controller itself.
As is usually the case with unboxings, you're going to need scissors to get to the controller inside.
This box isn't normal to say the least; it kind of reminded me of the smooth designs often found on apple products. You'll find a flap that looks like it's been opened already. Pull this over as if turning the page of a book to see the controller covered by plastic underneath. You can feel the DPAD and the buttons.
With the flap facing away from you, to the right-hand side of the outer box you'll see a piece of plastic that would be used to hang the product up in shops. If you feel around along the right-hand side of where the edge or outer box meets the plastic covering the controller, you will find a piece of tape. Cut this then look for two other pieces of tape joining the outside box and the controller covering, one near to you on the bottom edge and one on the left hand side opposite the first one.
Place your fingers underneath the holes in the plastic and lift, the cover should come away revealing the controller itself.
You can't get the controller out just yet though. Before you do, you need to make sure its wire is free first. With the flap again facing away from you, pull the plastic holding the controller upwards and towards you. Look for the wire underneath and pull out the coil - there's a fair amount of wire there.
This will all come free at once and the plastic housing isn't needed any more so put that to one side. Now you can take a look at this custom piece of merchandise.
Shiny is probably the best word I can think of to describe this controller - smooth to the touch and a little too light if you compare it to normal controllers - almost as if it came straight out of a 1980s console. That's not necessarily a bad thing though, as I discovered when I started using it.
The buttons on first touch appear to float out of the top surface, not really seeming like they need much force to work with. I wasn't exactly sure how to feel about this, but as you will soon discover my fears abated relatively quickly.
The DPad that is the only thing to the left-hand side of the controller is actually only a little larger than I expected, but seems like it'll be a good size for performing those complex quarter circle motions for long periods.
The switch to change console (Xbox 360 to Xbox one) is small and not easily noticed, close to you on the controller's face. To use it with the Xbox One you move it to the right, with the 360 you push to the left. It seems solid enough that it isn't likely to slip out and change suddenly, as you pretty much have to use a fingernail to move it from one to the other. However, that just means there's less hassle when changing between systems.
View and menu are actually out of the way, hidden at the top of the controller, to the right of the wired connection. Menu is on the right and view is on the left in this small two button configuration. I must admit, I like having them here, even if they are a little oddly close together. I would've personally thought placing them either side of the connector might have been a better idea, but I don't mind the default that much.
There are six buttons on the right hand side of the controller. The first two are x and a, the second are y and b, and the final two are Rb and Lb. RT and Lt are mounted on their respective sides on the section of the controller with the wired connection.
Yes. I said that it's wired. I didn't overlook this fact entirely throughout this whole review. In fact, that was one of the small questions I pondered the answer to as I opened the box, but knew this would probably be the outcome. I believe it's wired so it can be used in tournament play, where wireless devices are banned due to lag and interference. Whatever the reason, those of you worrying about not having enough wire, that shouldn't be a problem either as the coil attached to the product is significantly larger than even I expected, over 3 metres long.
One thing I did notice as I took a good look at the controller was the presence of screw holes, something probably more familiar to those using Xbox 360 controllers than the newer next generation versions. It was strange to see they hadn't been covered over, but to tell you the truth, once you get playing with the pad they aren't any kind of inconvenience in the grand scheme of things.
Disclaimer: The tests I did mostly occured within the first few days of having the pad. The test on the Xbox 360 were conducted later.
The pc installation is simple, just plug it in and it'll treat it like any other Xbox controller. As usual with controller driver installations, if the progress bar doesn't move for a while, don't worry - let the windows device setup wizard take it's time, it should install eventually.
This was the first game I tested using this controller and it must be said I was pleasantly surprised. The buttons, as I predicted, don't require much force, but respond well to a light touch. The motions on the DPad feel more fluid than normal with the larger surface area of the DPad itself making them easier to achieve. The layout is a little odd, but I can see why they placed the triggers in their standard position, as the reflex is to move there when you wish to perform things like x-ray attacks.
However, figuring out which button was used to throw took some getting used to, as my years of playing the older titles in the series had taught me to move to where the r1 button would normally be. I did eventually come to the conclusion that as with any other game, it's just a matter of growing accustomed to the difference and retraining your right hand to perform new movements. Once I got the hang of it, I was fine, pulling off combos consistently and without issue.
When moving from pc to Xbox one, there was nothing to be done on my part - plug and play certainly describes this controller in a nutshell.
Whilst I've adjusted to the Xbox One controller for playing KI, I soon discovered that the PDP fightPad was a great fit for the game. That is, once my fingers got used to having to hit the Rb button on the controller's face to get one combo ender, as well as hitting the RT button in combination to break heavy attacks. It's a little disconcerting when you keep dropping combos, but if you have a little patience, you'll reap the rewards of the DPad and the responsive microswitches. Again, like MKKE, it's simply a matter of making your hand go through a different sequence of motions.
Switching back to PC again, I decided to take a slightly different tack and test this robust controller with a slightly different sort of fighting game.
I decided to try the controller out on something that wasn't exclusively a fighter per say. This remake, released on Xbox Live and Steam, as well as versions for IOS and Android, pits you against waves of enemies as you traverse a linear adventure. The DPad works well here, as do the microswitches, reacting to the fast button inputs and QTE style coordination required to take down foes.
Keeping with PC, I was lucky enough to pick up Mortal Kombat Arcade Kollection on steam during a weekend deal. As a result I thought it would be a good idea to go right back to the roots of the series and see how well a new controller faired with games from 1992, 1993 and 1994, regardless of their remastered status.
I never had the opportunity to play Mortal Kombat 1, 2 or Ultimate MK3 in arcades, but MK Arcade Kollection on Steam in conjunction with the MKX fightPad is a good substitute. All three games, in spite of their unforgiving difficulty, respond with precision and accuracy as before and the microswitches hold their own in the mashing sessions that make up Test Your Might challenges. Moves, once you find them in guides on the internet, are relatively simple to perform and I even managed to pull off a fatality after a while of getting used to the mechanics of the original games.
Now let's get to the real test of this review. Namely testing this controller with the game it was designed and branded for.
The pad is responsive as ever, with its fluidity working with the game's new and old mechanics alike. Despite a few misread inputs (left right reading as down left and some buttons being misread as well), the pad is a worthy accompaniment to the game. Also, I will not link the misinterpretations to MKX itself, simply because the same things happened on the official Xbox one controller from Microsoft.
I later found the issues I experienced were at least, in part, linked to a few options that NetherRealm Studios left on by default in the controller settings menu, courtesy of a video by youtuber Infamy 23. After making the suggested adjustments while the strange input misinterpretations still occur, I found them to be far less frequent.
It feels good to say that the PC version, running under steam, performs just about as fluidly as the console versions. That coupled with the solid PDP Mortal Kombat X fightPad makes the PC version a wise choice for those who don't have a console, providing they leave enough time to download the game from the Internet before they start playing.
The second thing to point out is that the controller lacks the infrared technology that allows the user, when holding it up and standing or sitting in front of the Kinect, to sign in automatically. This has caused me a fair amount of frustration, as that is the easiest way (in my case at least) to sign in without having to go through a number of menus and options just to play the game. However, there are workarounds, even if they are complicated ones.
In spite of what might be considered deal breakers for those with a visual impairment, the PDP FightPad is a good fit for PC gamers as well as those on consoles and should suit arcade veterans who have become frustrated at the price of arcade sticks, as well as those looking for something a bit different.
In short, I would recommend this controller as a good value for money option.Return to the main reviews/guides home page