When it comes to that piece of equipment that connects you to your virtual world there is nothing as vital as a controller that fits snugly in the palm of your hand and allows access to all the various buttons. It is expected from all first-party controllers, but what about third-party controllers? Over the years the third-party manufacturers have tried to emulate Sony, Microsoft and Nintendo controllers but more often than not flub some crucial detail. Could these PS3 and 360 controllers from MadCatz be a step in the right direction?
MadCatz have targeted these controllers at the FPS market just in time to take advantage of Battlefield 3 and Modern Warfare 3. Their newest addition to the standard setup comes in the form of ‘combat’ buttons; situated underneath the controller where the tip of your middle finger normally rests. Instead of clicking L3 to sprint or reloading by moving your thumb and pressing Square/X you can assign one of the new buttons to take over that function. Should you want to program the combat button to another function it’s a simple slide of the switch underneath the controller. It takes some time to adjust your habits but once mastered this definitely speeds up your game. Both controllers have aspects in common like ergonomic non-slip grips, comfortable moulds and LED backlit analogue stick modules but there are different pros and cons to the PS3 and 360 controllers.
There is no question that the MadCatz PS3 offering just sits better in your hand than the official PlayStation product. It’s much more of a 2011 feel than a 1995 re-imagining, along with the inclusion of a decent set of triggers – there is no finger-slipping in tight situations. The PS3 version is wireless via a wireless USB receiver that takes up one of the two USB slots on the Slim console. Unfortunately this is where the good news ends. Within a week we found that one of the ‘combat’ switch buttons all but died. Not great. Vibration is also missing (essential for FPS titles), the overall feel of the face buttons and D-Pad is cheap and the altered placement of the Start and Select buttons is just confusing.
Xbox 360 controller:
In hand the MadCatz 360 controller feels pretty much identical to the already-comfortable official 360 version and, unlike their PS3 offering, includes a good dose of rumble. Sadly the ‘combat’ buttons do not work so well for combatants as it is not situated correctly and needs a stretch of your middle finger to reach it. This gets to be a tiring exercise after three to four hours of non-stop play. The biggest drawback is the fact that it’s a wired controller. This might be great news for PC gamers who want in on the fun, but it is hard to justify ditching the already-awesome Microsoft wireless controller in favour of one of these.
MadCatz have a great idea here that just needs some loose ends tied up for these to become a must-have. If you are a hardcore FPS player those combat buttons provide some advantage but if you aren’t constantly looking to improve your K-D ratio in nightly online sessions then it may be best to wait till another version rolls around.