Thrustmaster T.Flight Hotas X; the PS3 Attitude Review
There are no two ways about it. The Thrustmaster T.Flight Hotas X is big. Really big.
Having a sizeable peripheral could be seen as a boon or a millstone. If size is important to you, if lengthy and vaguely pornographic product names appeal and if having something substantial in both your hands when you play is important, you’re going to love the T.Flight Hotas X.
But if you’re the kind of person that shuns alternative control systems like steering wheels because they are too bulky, you might think twice about a joystick that has the same footprint as your average laptop computer.
Of course, nobody really cares how big a peripheral is as long as it is good fun, useful and enhances your gaming experience; Guitar Hero and Rock Band are testament to that. So how does this particular stick of joy stack up in the fun stakes?
The T.Flight is the main partner device for controlling Tom Clancy’s H.A.W.X., a title we recently reviewed and enjoyed a great deal, so naturally we tried out the unit with that particular flight-em-up.
On plugging the stick into the USB port on the PS3, H.A.W.X. immediately recognised the peripheral and changed the control mechanism instantly. It didn’t take long to work out the controls thanks to the new graphic in the Options menu that shows you where everything is.
The first thing you notice about the T.Flight is just how well made it is. Everything is solid and despite being made almost entirely from plastic, it never has that feeling that it is going to disintegrate in just a few days. It is packaged in two separate parts (albeit connected by a cable) which you clip together. Thrustmaster even supply an incorporated allen key to make the connection more permanent.
If you prefer the extra distance between the throttle and the stick, you can leave the two sections separate from each other, but that does of course make the T.Flight look even bigger than usual!
In addition to all the usual PS3 buttons, you’ll find an adjustment on the base of the stick that allows you to play with the tension and a PS3/PC switch. The inclusion of this toggle extends the usefulness of the product beyond the currently small amount of PS3 games. We have even seen anecdotal evidence on the Internet that the T.Flight works fine on a Mac.
As you would expect, the stick controls your aircraft and the throttle on the left handles speed. The stick itself houses buttons that in H.A.W.X. deliver cannon fire, missiles, squad requests, weapon selection, targeting and the enhanced HUD system.
The throttle also has a number of buttons that look after the H.A.W.X. OFF system, flare launches and other secondary actions.
The throttle and the stick can both control yaw. You can either use the nicely placed ‘rocker switch’ on the throttle to yaw left and right, or you can twist the joystick. The choice is yours.
All these buttons can be set up however you like using the built-in mapping function, which also extends the usefulness of the device with other PS3 and PC titles. For example, using the T.Flight with Blazing Angels 2 with the standard button layout makes it almost unplayable, but a quick reconfiguration solves the problem in no time.
So what about the fun?
The simple fact is this; the T.Flight makes H.A.W.X. a better game. The controls are much easier to use than those on the SixAxis/DualShock, which means you have more time to focus on playing and enjoying your dogfights. The controls are just so much more intuitive.
And it is more fun to control your aircraft with an actual flight stick as opposed to the standard controller.
The only thing missing is any kind of force feedback, but when we tell you just how little you’re going to pay for a T.Flight you’ll understand why it is missing.
Indeed, that is the absolute deal-winner for us. At the time of writing this, you can pick up your own T.Flight Hotas X from Amazon or Play.com for just under £27 (€29 / $39). As usual, if you go ahead and buy using either of the links we’ve supplied, Amazon and Play will give PS3 Attitude a commission for our Charity Fund.
If you like H.A.W.X. then the T.Flight is an essential purchase, and if you have other PS3 or PC flight games in your library you’ll get a huge amount of fun out of all of them, especially since the in-built mapping system means you can set up the stick to suit every title.
Want to get your hands on a T.Flight and H.A.W.X. for free? Enter our Spring Competition now…