I have a lot of respect for the current generation GTA games. I think the attitude is good, the production values are exceptional and the design as solid as it gets. But I’m dismayed with the slapdash way that the carefully constructed PS2 versions of the game get ported to the PC.

It took the best part of a year for San Andreas to find it’s way out of PS2 exclusivity – something I’m certain has more to do with contracts than technical ability. Now, most code in games is moderately portable. In essence the data that makes up the game content just needs a new interpreter to run on a different platform. The graphics and other assets don’t need to be reproduced, just created with some foresight to make them more transportable. Converting games across platforms doesn’t mean starting from scratch – it’s still plenty of work, but if you plan ahead, it’s a lot less work than it might be.

So how did they manage to completely muck up the controls for the PC version?

Granted, there’s a lot of functions in San Andreas but the entire game was designed and executed to work on a PS2 controller. A device the features less pushable items on it’s surface than your typical PC keyboard. Getting the PC version to emulate the feel of control available in the PS2 game is probably a greater challenge than beating the game itself.

Surely this must have been noticed during the conversion process?

I’ve really enjoyed the PS2 version but found the loading times to be a pain. I also have the PC version so I have the option of eradicating the offending loading times. But then I’m left with an all but uncontrollable game.

My train of thought was that, if I could find a game controller with the same degree of functionality as the PS2 controller, I could map the controls for the PC game to it and get the same feel.

I didn’t have too much success finding something I was sure was going to give me just what I wanted so I approached the problem from a different angle – could I connect my PS2 controller to the PC? Yes! I could! And for a price of only £6.99 too. RESULT!

So, I’m getting closer to my goal.

Now, all I have to do is wade through the three or so full pages of controll mappings (on foot, in car etc) to my controller to emulate the controls of the PS2 version. Why didn’t the game support this as a preset control configuration?

Now, I’m lazy at heart. And slow. But I can use these two qualities to my advantage. I reasoned that I can’t be alone in my plight and that there must be more enterprising gamers than me out there that have tackled this problem already. So, I give up fighting with the controller setup screens and hit Google instead.

Whaddya know? By about the third result down I’ve found a user-written application and a config file to feed into it that is designed precisely to address the issues I’m having with the game.

I’ve now got the controls mapped out to emulate the oh-so-comfy PS2 controls on the PC whilst having the convenience of next-to-nothing loading times and optional mouse targetting for those tricky mission where aiming is critical.

I consider myself lucky that there’s such a big following for GTA as, quite frankly, being able to comfortably control a game that already had a decent control system shouldn’t be some epic quest.

Shame on you Rockstar.

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