Today I have for you the Saitek x52 Flight Control System. The Saitek x52 is a H.O.T.A.S joystick which stands for Hand On Throttle And Stick. A H.O.T.A.S system is designed so that the user doesn’t need to take his hand off the throttle or stick at all, giving you access to somewhere in the region of 300 key presses, which is just what the sim nut in all of us needs.
I’ve been using the X52 for a couple of days now, mainly playing Star Citizen’s Arena Commander module and have had a pretty good experience with it. I normally play simulation games with an Xbox 360 controller but with the likes of Star Citizen and Elite: Dangerous coming out I thought it would be a good idea to expand my arsenal.
Taking a look at the current market you will notice a lot of joysticks out there, but there are only a select amount that are fully H.O.T.A.S. The Saitek X52 is one of them. Although few and far between, there are alternatives out there. The successor to the Saitek X52 is the X55 Rhino which retails at £169.99 on the Saitek website. You can also go for a Thrustmaster Warthog which retails at £304.65 with Amazon. I was able to pick up my X52 from Currys for just £99.99 which is brilliant value for money.
Starting with the stick first we are greeted by four fire buttons labelled with A, B, C and Fire The fire is covered by a safety cover which is great fun flicking up just when you’re about to destroy the enemy. A definite Top Gun moment. Also on the front of the stick we have two 8-way hat switches and a rotary switch to change what key mode you are in. Round the back we find a 2-stage trigger giving you the ability to bind two sets of weapons to a single key press. This is great for space sims where weapons can be placed in every available position on your ship. There is also a pinky trigger that moves up and down with the adjustable hand rest. On the base of the stick there are three up/down toggle switches.
Moving on to the throttle which is my favourite part. It looks like something you would find in Star Wars or Star Trek. The first thing you will notice is the MFD or Multi-Function Display, which shows a clock that can display three separate times, the date, what mode you are in and what profile you are currently using. There is also a stopwatch as well as a clutch key that shows you what each buttons is bound to in your selected profile. You will also have two fire buttons, a scroll wheel with a built-in button, a mouse controller with a left mouse click, an 8-way hat switch and two rotary controls. The throttle itself has a tension adjustment and detents for the afterburner and idle states.
All in all this is a great bit of kit with its stable construction, soft touch rubber grips and endless supply of buttons, you’ll have everything you need to fly that Boeing-747 from London to Japan.
I’ve included a video of myself playing Arena Commander with the joystick above. Take a look and see what you think.