Reviewed: July 21, 2002
My history with ThrustMaster goes clear back to 1990 when their original PC flight sticks were being assembled by hand in the owner’s garage. During these past 12 years I have owned and used just about every single wheel, joystick, gamepad, weapons control system, and yes; even those famous pinball paddle buttons that attached to your keyboard. Suffice to say; when it comes to ThrustMaster, the only person more experienced than me is the founder of the company.
Last December I reviewed the Fox 2 Pro Shock for the PC, so I already had a pretty good idea of what to expect when my ThrustMaster Fox 2 Pro Top Gun for the Xbox arrived for review. The stick looks and feels just like it’s PC cousin and aside from the Xbox-green highlights, and the addition of a few new buttons, you’d be hard pressed to tell them apart.
Here is the list of features for this stick:
The 8-button layout is very nice with a nice sturdy trigger, and several buttons on both the stick and the base. They are all clearly labeled or color-coded to match the buttons on the standard Xbox controller. The joystick swivels on its main post and can be used as a rudder or possibly even a throttle for a helicopter flight sim. If you don't like the twisting handle you can lock it down. A handy knob is located on the bottom of the base that you can use to adjust joystick tension/resistance, and the 8-way directional hat serves as the second (or right) thumbstick.
Installation is a snap and consists of opening the box and plugging the cord into your Xbox. There’s nothing special required to make this joystick work with any of your Xbox games, although by its very design you will find it suited to certain genres of games. I tested this stick with several games in my library and here are the results.
Air Force Delta Storm is a traditional flight combat action game that is perfectly suited to a controller such as this. There is something about using a nice big joystick that really adds to the sense of immersion when playing a game like this. Having all of the major commands at your fingertips is total gaming bliss and the throttle lets you adjust and lockdown your speed quickly and easily.
Star Wars: Starfighter Special Edition and Star Wars: Jedi Starfighter were two other games I had on hand to play-test this stick. Both games are almost identical in the way they control and play and the joystick added a whole new dimension to the accuracy and ease of my control. Not that I ever had any difficulty playing these games with the standard controller, but wrapping my fingers around the contoured grip of the Fox 2 Pro added to the illusion of being a star pilot.
The stick has a nice weight that makes it comfortable in your lap or heavy enough not to slip around when resting on the coffee table or even on the arm of your chair. The motor inside the handle generates some good vibration effects; not to be confused with force feedback. These effects do not move the stick around in relation to gameplay, but merely offers various vibrations to enhance the on-screen action.
When it comes down to deciding to purchase this controller you simply have to ask yourself how many games do you own (or plan on owning) that will make good use of it. At $40, this joystick is a bit pricier than a normal controller, but if you own one good flight game and want to experience it in a way simply not possible with a conventional controller then you owe it to yourself to get the Fox 2 Pro. You might just enjoy it so much that you will start looking for more games to go with it.