Saitek Cyborg Evo

Saitek Cyborg Evo

Written by Charlie Sinhaseni on 10/1/2003 for PC  

I’ll be honest, I haven’t used a joystick since the days of Microprose’s F-19 and Origin’s Strike Commander. Back in those days the construction was plastic and the controllers were bulky and unfunctional. Yes, I’ve missed out on quite a lot, HOTAS setups, yoke and rudder sets, the rise of Microsoft’s Sidewinder units. You can say I’ve been living under a hardware repellant rock for the better part of five years but that moment changes now, and it begins with Saitek’s Cyborg Evo joystick.

In terms of features and functionality this puppy has it all, and more importantly, it features some great craftsmanship. Aside from the weight of the base, nothing on the joystick feels cheap and weak. Instead the unit feels comfortable and sturdy, just like an instrument of destruction should. When I first played around with it I feared that the small eight-way-direction POV hat would be too small and uncomfortable. However, it took only a small feel of the hat to be satisfied with its construction. It’s big enough to where it’s comfortable for you to maneuver with your thumb and it’s large enough to be practical in the midst of gameplay. Best of all the spring mechanism on it is strong and lends a very satisfying amount of resistance to it.

In fact all of the buttons exhibit a really satisfying amount of resistance. While the plastic construction might feel a little cheesy at first, it’ll only take one quick click to turn a skeptic into a believer. There are five buttons that are easily accessible by the thumb while the trigger is just far enough to be activated by your index finger. On the top of the device are two metal knobs that can be used to adjust the angle and orientation of the upper half of the unit. One allows you to actually adjust the height of the piece that holds the buttons while the other button allows you to adjust the angle for maximum comfort. A third metallic knob lies more towards the base of the unit and allows you to adjust the wrist rest, making the stick accessible to both righties and south paws.

On the actual base are a throttle are six extra buttons that can be mapped out to your liking. I liked the amount of resistance exhibited by the throttle as it allowed me to be more precise when using it. The additional buttons really come in handy when you’re playing true-to-life flight sims like Microsoft Flight Simulator and you want to rid yourself of the keyboard entirely. Also, the actual stick itself can swivel left and right, a feature that comes in handy when you want to want to turn the torso on your mechs. For those who are easily amused by bright lights you should be happy to know that the six base buttons emit a red glow as well.
The actual stick itself is governed by a little spring that is attached to the base. It offers just the right amount of resistance to allow for precise aiming and targeting. With the Cyborg Evo I was able to target and track my enemies in MechWarrior 4 with the slightest of ease. With some of the other sticks I’ve tried I always ended up overshooting or undershooting my enemies, mainly because the amount of resistance from the stick never felt right. Here it allows for some very smooth and precise movement, just what a destructive bastard like me needs. In fact, the device was so precise that I opted to use it instead of my SideWinder GamePad for my primary gaming device. It even worked really well in racing games such as Midnight Club 2. Sure it won’t replace a wheel and pedal setup but it’s a nice all-around solution for anyone who wants a stick that can do it all.

It’s not without its problems. Perhaps the largest detriment is the unit’s weight. It’s relatively light so it makes it difficult to use the swivel function. What this does is it almost forces you to put one hand on the base while using the other hand to control the actual unit. This is extremely uncomfortable, especially when you’ve been using the unit for extended sessions. Another problem is that the entire base is constructed of plastic with a few metal plates on the topside of it. This means that the point making contact with an actual surface is plastic, thus leaving it susceptible to slides and movement. Had the base been made of rubber, or at the least, rubber feet had been placed on the base, it may have gone a long way to adding more stability to the entire unit. As it stands, I wouldn’t much recommend using the unit on any surface that doesn’t provide a lot of friction. In fact, I had to put a mousepad under it just to keep it from slipping around the table.

But that’s just a minor problem that can easily be averted. Sure you might have to put your hand on the base from time-to-time but it’s not something that will prove to be detrimental to gameplay. Actually I prefer to put the stick in my lap during gameplay (quiet you sickos) so I don’t really put it on a table or flat surface to begin with. It’s just a matter of choosing your poison, if you can live with the fact that you might get a little slippage here and there then it really shouldn’t be a problem at all.

In the end the Saitek Cyborg Evo is an excellent stick that is both versatile and practical. It can be used in nearly every type of game ranging from flight simulators to arcade games and best of all; it comes with a reasonable price tag. I don’t see any reason why anyone who is looking to jump into the joystick market should overlook this fine device.
Its sturdy construct and excellent design provides the gamer with one of the best reasonably-priced peripherals on the market. The relatively light base is the only large blemish on this otherwise exceptional product. Anyone looking to purchase an exceptional entry-level joystick should look no further than Saitek’s Cyborg Evo.

Rating: 8.6 Very Good

* The product in this article was sent to us by the developer/company for review.


About Author

Gaming has been a part of my life for as long as I could remember. I can still recall many a lost nights spent playing Gyromite with that stupid robot contraption for the old NES. While I'm not as old as the rest of the crew around these parts, I still have a solid understanding of the heritage and the history of the video gaming industry.

It's funny, when I see other people reference games like Doom as "old-school" I almost begin to cringe. I bet that half of these supposed "old-school" gamers don't even remember classic games like Rise of the Triad and Commander Keen. How about Halloween Harry? Does anyone even remember the term "shareware" anymore? If you want to know "old-school" just talk to John. He'll tell you all about his favorite Atari game, Custer's Revenge.

It's okay though, ignorance is bliss and what the kids don't know won't hurt them. I'll just simply smile and nod the next time someone tells me that the best entry in the Final Fantasy franchise was Final Fantasy VII.

When I'm not playing games I'm usually busy sleeping through classes at a boring college in Southern Oregon. My current hobbies are: writing songs for punk rock bands that never quite make it, and teasing Bart about... well just teasing Bart in general. I swear the material writes itself when you're around this guy. He gives new meaning to the term "moving punching bag."

As for games, I enjoy all types except those long-winded turn-based strategy games. I send those games to my good pal Tyler, I hear he has a thing for those games that none of us actually have the time to play.

When I'm not busy plowing through a massive pile of video games I spend all of my time trying to keep my cute little girl fed. She eats a ton but damn she's so hot. Does anyone understand the Asian girl weight principal? Like they'll clean out your fridge yet still weigh less than 110 pounds.

Currently I'm playing: THUG, True Crime, Prince of Persia, Project Gotham 2 and Beyond Good & Evil. View Profile

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