The Horipad EX2 Turbo is a good pad for Xbox 360 gamers needing a pad for fighting games. After all, it's got six face buttons and a responsive cross-style directional pad: everything a fighting game player who prefers pads to sticks needs, right?
Actually, let's go a bit further and say: The Horipad EX2 Turbo is the best fighting game pad for Xbox 360, but it can't be your general purpose pad, even if it sports the usual analog sticks and triggers. If you are worried that it shares a name with the poor EX2 stick Hori issued a while back, rest assured: it is a significantly higher quality product worth having as an option for players during your next fighting game party. It may even grow to be your primary controller for fighting games.
The Horipad EX2 Turbo features 13 buttons compared to the standard 360 pad's 11, the extra two being the result of the bumpers featuring on both the top and the face of the controller. From the pictures, you can see the extra charcoal color buttons featuring next to the colored ABXY cluster. Those two extra face buttons actually have a slightly different shape compared to the main four; in practice, however, one doesn't notice the difference in shape as bothersome. Similarly, it looks as though the buttons are situated a little too close to the right edge of the controller for comfort, but the buttons were always easy to access quickly, whether you play with a standard console grip (using primarily the right thumb) or an arcade style approach (using the fingers of the right hand, from index to ring finger).
The button configuration isn't totally perfect, however. It would be nice if there was a little more space between the buttons, in order to better accommodate a four button Neo Geo style layout. I tried playing Garou: Mark of the Wolves with thumb on A, index on X, middle on Y, and ring on LB; while I could maintain the security of having every finger in contact with buttons throughout for round after round, my right hand cramped up much faster than using the same style of play on a Sega Saturn pad (still the gold standard for fighting game joypad design) or ASCII FT pad (that sports an even better button layout than the Saturn pad, thanks to its even larger button spacing and consistent button shape). A few millimeters here and there could have elevated the buttons from very good to great.
The d-pad is in the classic cross style, and it is an excellent pad indeed. If you're familiar with the cross-pad Hori used for their classic fighting pad for the GameCube, then you'll be right at home with the EX2. It's not the exact same as that earlier iteration: the EX2 sports a slightly larger crosspad than on the GameCube version, and the points are slightly raised (thankfully not to the blister inducing level of the ASCII FT Dreamcast pad). If anything, it is slightly more responsive than that already excellent d-pad. More importantly, after a few months of intense play, the d-pad has maintained the same level of sensitivity as when it was new; no need to smash your left thumb to register directions. Whether it be Super Street Fighter IV, Samurai Shodown II, or Soul Calibur II, motions proved as easy to do with the EX2 pad as any other. It's easily on par with the circular pad of the Saturn and, in my mind, significantly ahead of the MadCatz Street Fighter pads when it came to performing everything from dragon punches to 720s to "how the heck do I do this!" ridiculous (read: weird SNK style) motions.
Besides the standard controller acoutrements, the EX2 features turbo button functionality and the ability to change your analog stick sensitivity. These features worked. I didn't give them a super rigorous test, but it might be worth noting that I've never had higher scores in Outrun Online Arcade than when using the EX2 with the lower sensitivity analog engaged. The extra functionality didn't really enhance my play of After Burner Climax, but using only the left analog stick, the controller felt comparable to the experience using a standard 360 pad.
If you need to dual-stick, whether in Call of Duty or Geometry Wars, the slight difference from the standard 360 pad made using the pad both frustrating and uncomfortable. The left analog stick is decently positioned, but the right stick simply felt too far away from the right hand grip, a consequence of the controller face gaining those extra buttons. While the difference is a matter of millimeters, the slight change in position combined with the slightly longer throw of the stick meant that aiming in shooters was a much less insignificant task, causing myself and other players who used the pad to underestimate motions, overcorrect shots, and cuss.
While I'd discourage you from using the EX2 as a substitute for the standard 360 pad for all of your game library, the fact that it has all those standard features on top of the fighting game specific features while maintaining a street price at or below the going price for the d-pad only MadCatz Street Fighter IV FightPad makes Hori's offering a no-brainer when it comes to value. The MadCatz pad has gained a decent following thanks to being the most marketed of fighting pads available for the current gen consoles. Neither the 360 nor the PS3 version have a space in my home, now. It used to be that I only played fighters on PS3 thanks to its ability to use Saturn USB pads. My Xbox fighting game library can finally be enjoyed with the Horipad EX2 Turbo.
Now if only I could continue to play Street Fighter III: Third Strike over Xbox Live...