The Xbox 360 controller is my favorite gaming controller of all time. It's certainly not the most nostalgic, or memorable, but if I had the choice to use only one controller for the rest of my life, it'd be Microsoft's. It's just so dang versatile! That said, it's not perfect. The d-pad has long been an issue, as it's not much more than a mushy wheel that lacks the sort of precision you need for 2D games and fighting titles. People have been complaining since launch about this, and Microsoft's finally stepping up in a big way.
The above controller looks pretty normal, apart from the color, but it's hiding a dark secret. See the cross of the d-pad? If you rotate the d-pad ring 90 degrees to the right, the cross will pop up, leaving you with a familiar, four-point d-pad from days of yore. Rotate it back again and the d-pad sinks back down into its usual spot. You can see the newfangled device in action right here:
It's usually pretty hard to impress me, but the simplistic brilliance of this new d-pad requires that the person/s responsible get about 500 high fives today. They somehow managed to mingle new functionality with the old design, so the new controller won't alienate any veterans. It's pretty damn clever.
The new controller also has muted face button colors (for a more adult look, I suppose), and improved trigger design, which I can't really comment on, since I haven't had the chance to try it out.
Now for the bad news, it ain't cheap. You'll only be able to buy the controller packed in with the Play and Charge kit, and that'll run you $65 when it drops on November 9. Ironic timing given that the controller-free Kinect is launching one week before that in North America.
Thoughts on the new controller design? Let us know in the comments or on Twitter.