The general public may still think of video games primarily as a casual or hobbyist's activity, but over the past decade or so competitive gaming has grown into its own and become a sport in and of itself with legions of devoted followers (e-sports). Now Mad Catz is targeting demanding competitive players with this ultra-moddable controller designed for tournaments and competitions.
Moddable To The Bone
Both the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 versions have some of the same design features as the official controllers: a headset input/output jack for the Xbox 360 model and LEDs indicating the controller number for the PS3 version, as well as a function for inverting the L1/R1 and L2/R2 controls. The electronics on the inside are different, so the two only work on their respective platforms.
Given that it's so hard to find PS3-compatible controllers with the shape of an Xbox 360 controller, the MLG Pro Circuit's shape is one of its strong points. DualShock 3 (PS3) haters will love it. While some players swear by the DualShock design, others, especially people with big hands, prefer the Xbox 360 Controller's handling.
Where the two differ is mainly the positioning of the joysticks and directional pad. All players have their preferences, so Mad Catz had the genius idea to leave it up to the gamer by making the D-pad and analogue sticks entirely swappable. As you can see in the pictures below, you can set up the controls in Xbox 360 style, PS3 style or your own way!
You're free to choose whichever configuration you prefer for the type of game you're playing. For example, you can use the DualShock D-pad along with the concave joystick from the Xbox 360 as your left stick and the convex joystick from the PS3 as your right stick. Everything is possible and the modules come included. More modules are also available to buy on the Mad Catz website, from stiffer analogue sticks to smaller concave/convex caps. Unfortunately, you can't adjust the stick tension the way you can on the Razer Onza Tournament Edition.
And the modules are easy to switch. All it takes after opening the faceplate is a slight turn to the left to remove the modules and a slight turn to the right to fix them in. Once locked in place nothing moves; the system feels sturdy and well designed.
The faceplate is held on by magnets and is just as easy to remove as the modules. The controller comes with two faceplates, one glossy and one matte.
Detachable faceplate and modules
As far as finishing goes, the MLG Pro Circuit Controller exudes quality. The only problem we found was a slight adjustment issue with the faceplate on our model, which didn't completely come into contact with the bottom of the controller. But we were happy with everything else, including the soft-touch back, which we prefer over the official Xbox 360 Controller's hard plastic.
Just Like The Official Controller—Only Better
The MLG Pro Circuit has the exact same shape, buttons and triggers as the official Xbox controller. The triggers are a bit firmer, but on the whole it has the same overall feel.
There isn't really much to say about the handling during gameplay, since the MLG Pro Circuit works pretty much just like any official controller. You get used to it fairly quickly, and you can adjust the total mass with the two 35-gramme weights held in the compartment on the back where you usually find the batteries on wireless controllers. That said, the MLG Pro Circuit is already heavy as is, weighing 266 grammes (66 g more than the Onza Tournament Edition). But fortunately it's still lighter than wireless controllers (the official version weighs 282 g and the Silver weighs 298 g).
As the MLG Pro Circuit is designed first and foremost for competitive gaming, it isn't wireless. The 3-metre braided cable that comes in the box connects to the controller via a screw system with a securable ring to avoid accidental disconnections. The cable may be thick and a bit stiff, but it should guarantee a long lifetime and minimal interference. The drawback is that it's only three metres long, which could be a problem when you're far away from the screen.
The only difference with the official controller in the positioning of the buttons is that START and BACK (SELECT on the PS3 version) are higher up on the faceplate and therefore harder to reach with your thumbs.
Here's the Mad Catz promo video:
- Four different analogue sticks and two D-pads included
- The modules are well-positioned and the system is easy to use
- Feels sturdy
- Adjustable weight
- Good finishing
- Cable a little short for large rooms
- START and SELECT buttons a bit too high up
- Stick tension is non-adjustable
The MLG Pro Circuit Controller has a similar shape and feel to the official Xbox 360 controller. It handles well, seems sturdy and doesn't take much getting used to. The biggest advantage is obviously the swappable directional modules that let you fully customise the controls. If you're someone who likes the official Xbox 360 controller but wants to be able to change up the controls, then this would be a good buy for you—otherwise it may not be the best choice, given the price tag.