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Designed for Competitive Gaming…

Spending considerable amounts on peripherals for console gaming is a relatively novel option on the local scene. Until just a few years ago, we could attain only basic peripherals at a local retailer. If you wanted the more “pro” peripheral for console gaming, you more than likely had to import it. This is a somewhat strange mindset we had in South Africa, be it that the gamers themselves were not willing to spend considerable amounts on gaming for the cheaper platforms, or be it the retailer that could not see a market for expensive peripherals for “cheap” platforms. I say this was strange, because on the contrary, local PC gamers will and have been spending staggering amounts for years on mouses, keyboards on any hardware that will give them the smallest of advantages. Spending has never seemed out of the ordinary when it comes to PC gaming.

If you had asked me a year ago if I could fathom dropping R 2500,00 on a headset for example, the cost of an entire console, I would have said there would be no way. After reviewing a fair amount of high-end gaming peripherals this year, my outlook has changed so much that I almost deem it necessary to spend nothing less than R 2 000,00 on my next headset. What a high-end peripheral does for your gaming experience has without a doubt become a priority for me. My views on what I am willing to pay to only fractionally improve my gaming experience have changed dramatically. Fortunately for me and the like-minded, the options available locally have grown dramatically, as has competitive gaming – the audience that seek out such high-end products.

Scuf Gaming is one such peripheral manufacturer that caters to such an audience – the competitive audience. The Scuf controllers take the exact Xbox 360 and Playstation 3 controllers and modify them for the competitive gamer. Where many controller manufacturers design controllers to be “prettier” or more comfortable, Scuf take the exact controllers and add performance orientated features like the trademarked Scuf paddles, purely to give you the incremental edge. The Xbox 360 Scuf controllers also ship with a Scuf key (an allen key like tool) which allows you to tighten or loosen the triggers, again, implemented to allow the competitive gamer to tweak their controller to their preference.

Gaming Cartel have a whole range of the hand-built Scuf wired/wireless controllers with various designs, some even featuring illuminated buttons which are certainly pretty at night. I would not pay R 1300, 00 – R1600, 00 for different designs or pretty lights, even though I am sure many would. I would pay that for Scuf controllers purely for the performance advantage. This opinion could however change for a totally zombie’fied design.

It’s all About the Milliseconds…

The Scuf controllers’ trademark feature is the Scuf paddles. The two paddles sit on the back of the controller, comfortably where your middle and ring fingers would sit naturally. I personally use my index fingers for both the trigger and bumper-buttons, so my middle fingers sit naturally on the Scuf paddles. The current range in SA are designed around Call of Duty, however crossover where you like. The controllers ship with the paddles set to X and O on the PS3 controller, and A and B on the Xbox 360 controller. So the buttons are set to either ‘jump’ or ‘kneel/ lie down’ in Call of Duty, when using the default controller layout of the game. Obviously you can change you controller layout as per the game you are playing through the in-game options, and Scuf’s webste offers a list of settings for the various shooter titles.

Scuf key

The Scuf Key allows you to tighten the paddles, and the triggers on the Xbox 360 controller. This not only makes sense over the long term – controller buttons loosen over time so you can keep tightening them – but it also allows you to customise the feel of your controller. For example, I like the fact that I could make the left trigger loose, or super reactive, so that in an instance I could be looking down the site of the gun. Then I tightened the right trigger to feel more like the real thing.

The Playstation 3 controller boast hyper sensitive triggers for improved reaction times as well as added grip around the back of the controller. I have always found the standard PS3 controller to be a little smooth and slippery after long use. So with the Scuf controller, the need to constantly re-adjust your grip is decreased. The Xbox controller features Trigger Stops which help prevent any unnecessary trigger movement, and therefore improve your reaction times. All the Scuf controller paddles are made from a combination of Polycarbonate and Fibreglass, so they certainly feel durable, and I’m sure they can withstand some punishment.

So What’s the Big Deal?

Well, quite simply explained, your hand has more input options sitting naturally on the controller without having to lift a finger. This actually opened my eyes up to a whole new style of play in Call of Duty. I previously hardly ever jumped or dropped to the ground in the game and the reason for that was pretty simple – obviously every millisecond counts online, especially on the competitive scene, having to re-adjust your grip means you loose precious time. With a normal controller, coming around a corner, you need to use your right thumb on the analogue or camera stick. You always want the camera facing the enemy, so with a standard controller you need to come around the corner for example, then take your thumb off the analogue stick to then hit either the kneeling or jump button (to throw your enemy off). So with the Scuf paddle I could do this in one smooth motion and with no re-adjustment of my grip. This took a little getting used to, but when I managed to get it down, the difference was immense.

I can imagine just how much more of a difference it would make if I was actually pretty good at the game. The fact that your hands cover more input options without needing to re-adjust helps you scrape of those precious milliseconds off, to give you a real chance at putting up a better fight.


The Verdict…

At first I thought fine, two extra buttons that allow me to not have to lift a finger – great, but is it necessary? It was only when I starting to understand how I could use the advantageous options that I began to understand the possibilities in how I could improve on my gaming style.

Think of it this way – I have never been the fastest sprinter in the world (or neighbourhood for that matter). So if you gave me a proper pair of spikes, I would still not be the fastest sprinter in the world. I would definitely be a little faster, thanks to the performance design that comes with the spikes, but I would still not be giving no Mr. Bolt (or even his grandmother) a go.

So too will a Scuf controller not make the average-skilled shooter an absolute pro, but it certainly will help, especially when you start using it for what it was designed for. For those gamers that are already highly competitive out there, the Scuf controller is exactly where you could find the edge.


For Extra ‘Kontrol’…

We would highly recommend the Kontrol Freek grips. I have been around the gaming scene long enough to know that Kontrol Freek grips are the grips for any controller.

Kontrol Freek offer a range of grips designed around first-person shooter needs mainly. We tested some and were well impressed. Not only do they provide added grip, but they are easy to install and I personally felt more comfortable with the slightly more elevated thumb-stick. The elevated thumb-sticks offer improved accuracy due to the added height. The grips are manufactured from a good quality rubber with additional blisters which give added grip and less slipping. This is a small upgrade that provides a considerable improvement.

All peripherals were supplied by and are available to purchase from Gaming Cartel.