[Hardware Review] The ANT Commandos Rock Commandos Universal PS2 to PS3 Controller Adaptor

Universal indeed.
Author: Sam Bishop
Published: May 11, 2008
The plight of the PS3 owner and their forlorn copies of Guitar Hero and Guitar Hero II for the PS2 has been fairly well-documented by now. There are options out there, though none of them so far have been 100%. Of slightly lesser concern is owners of Rock Band who up until recently didn't really have any options for a second guitar controller thanks to a rather catty bit of back-and-forth between Guitar Hero publisher Activision and Rock Band developers Harmonix (the original creators of Guitar Hero) that rendered a patch that would allow Guitar Hero III controllers to work with Rock Band. EA finally rolled out stand-alone guitars, but it still was an issue that 360 owners didn't have to deal with.

Given the number of people that made the jump from the straight guitar rocking of the PS2 Guitar Hero games to the multi-instrument Rock Band experience, there were bound to be plenty of PS2 controllers out there, wired and wireless, and this is where The ANT Commandos comes in. Regardless of dev/pub squabbles, there was a pure hardware issue to deal with: PS2 controllers obviously used an adaptor that the PS3 doesn't have. The solution? A USB adapter that lets you plug in, well, any PS2 controller, guitar or otherwise.

Enter TAC's Rock Commandos adapter. With a toggle for Guitar Hero, Rock Band or everything else, it's relatively easy to replicate a PS3 controller with the PS2 counterpart -- right down to being able to hold the Select and Start buttons to pull up the PlayStation Button menu (though there's no way to quit out of the game, unfortunately, so it's largely pointless). Bear in mind that we only tried this with the official guitars that shipped with the first two Guitar Hero games (hey, we're purists, what can I say), and it only works in PS3 mode, but everything worked exactly as it should have. No lag, no issues. It was all peachy, really.

Given the breadth of support for just about everything that used a PS2 controller port, we were a little surprised to see most of the technical notes relegated to an itty bitty little scrap of paper that listed things like Guitar Hero III star power requiring the controllers to be tilted up for about a second and a half before kicking off and the rather disappointing news that the adaptor sadly wouldn't work with the PS2 versions of the games we'd grown to love.

Here's the good news, though: it actually does. For the original Guitar Hero.

Granted, you have to MacGuyver the solution out just a little by leaving a DualShock 2 plugged in than swapping it once you get to the main menu, but it works otherwise, and like a charm. There may be a little lag introduced, we can't quite tell if it was just all of us being a little rusty or not, but it's something that could likely be calibrated out. We played through most of the songs marveling at just how amazing muscle memory really is. Then we instituted old-school Guitar Hero night and, well... let's just say I'm writing this on a Sunday and I'm still a little hazy. Oh Guitar Hero, how we love you.

Another minor gripe: the toggle switch on the front of the slightly cheap feeling, almost ominously light adapter has three labels. "RB" and "GH" obviously refer to their respective games, but the similarly-named "GP" one (I assume it means "General Play"?) could have just as easily been marked as "Normal" or something a little less confusing. At a glance, H looks an awful lot like P. Just sayin'.

Overall, though, the adapter does exactly as advertised (at least in our basic tests; the packaging lists support for the Nyko Frontman, DreamGear Shredder, all React, Psyclone and The ANT Commandos controllers, including wireless models), and though I suspect there's quite a bit of profit being made on each sale due to cheap materials, I can't fault The ANT Commandos for providing something that PS2 controller owners needed. It does not allow for the rumble signal to pass through, unfortunately, so whether in PS2 or PS3 mode, you're not going to get anything but a dead controller where whence there was rumble. Sorry, kids, you're just going to have to spring for that DualShock 3.

Considering the range of compatibility and the fact that we can almost play Guitar Hero (yes, just the first one), we've got no other option than to whole-heartedly recommend this to just about everyone.

Verdict: Buy It!