November 28, 2006 - For much of the history of console video games, third-party manufactured controllers and accessories were designed almost entirely for the purpose of undercutting the first-party offerings on price. While okay for saving a buck, alternative manufacturer options were rarely as good as the official gear, especially when it came to the D-pads. Over the years, however, the quality of third-party controllers and accessories has been on a dramatic rise.

As a matter of fact, Nyko is setting out to explore a new realm of premium, more-expensive-than-first-party controllers with the new Zero Contorller line for PS2 and in future the PS3, Xbox 360, and PC. The Zero wireless pad incorporates both a rather unique industrial design and construction as well as wireless and rechargeable features similar to those offered by the next-gen consoles like the Xbox 360 and PS3. Is the result a force fit or the swan song of the PS2 accessory market? Let's find out.

The Zero takes a few design cues from both the Xbox 360 pad and the new PS3 controller. Like the 360 pad, the Zero sports a removable battery pack in a position quite similar to the 360 controller, and like its Microsoft inspiration, is capable of accepting both a AA batter powered pack or a rechargeable NiMH pack. Unlike the 360 controller, the Zero includes both packs, which is a nice touch. Recharging the NiMH pack is accomplished via a USB-mini USB wire (also included) that connects the controller to the PS2, quite similar to the PS3's SIXAXIS design.

The Zero also has a pretty unique look and feel. The rather sharp angles that define the controller's aesthetics are attractive. Coupled with the aluminum panels that cover the handle prongs, the overall look of the Zero is very modern. General button layout is pretty similar to the standard PS2 Dual Shock, save for the shoulder buttons. R1 and L1 reside in a relatively typical 'bumper' location, but R2 and L2 are removed to trigger-like locations.

In hand the Zero is quite comfortable and despite its angular design you won't feel any sharp edges while playing. The aluminum plate on the controller's face and prongs becomes nice and cold when not in use, which feels nice when you pick the controller up. The rather long and steeply curving handle prongs position the controller somewhat deeper into one's hands compared to a Dual Shock, whose prongs generally rest in the center of one's palms. As such it feels much more similar to a 360 pad than anything designed by Sony. The center mounted battery pack tends to naturally guide a user's middle fingers to grip the prongs rather than the R2 and L2 buttons, which is a comfortable enough arrangement. If, however, you're playing a game that requires fingers poised on all four of the shoulder buttons the modified grip on the Zero that is required isn't quite as comfortable.