Mad Catz MLG Pro Circuit Controller Hands-On

Mad Catz teamed up with MLG to create a highly configurable controller intended to stand up to the demanding requirements of competitive gamers.

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Mad Catz has a new controller on the market that promises to marry customization with solid construction in a package suitable for competition on a professional level. The MLG Pro Circuit Controller was developed with input from pro gamers and bears the hallmarks of a certified device. At $99.99 MSRP, it isn't cheap, but what you get is more than just a controller; you get a kit with features beyond comparison. In practice, however, the controller leaves much to be desired. Innovation is a wonderful thing, but it doesn't necessarily equal perfection.

The most exciting and unique feature of the MLG Pro Circuit Controller is the modular design. Each controller ships with two sets of analog sticks and two styles of D-pad that can be arranged in a number of ways. You can, for example, pop in the PlayStation-style D-pad in the Xbox 360 model for a setup that's more suitable for 2D games. Likewise, PlayStation 3 owners can finally play shooters in a way that mimics the Xbox 360 controller. Mad Catz went so far as to provide a hardware solution for swapping the shoulder button functions on the PS3 model for this very sect of gamers. This welcome transformation is accomplished by holding the start and select buttons down at the same time.

However, there are limitations to the modules. While you can install two D-pads or three analog sticks, only some of the inputs will function. Only one D-pad can be active at a time, and it has to be in either one of the two left slots. The analog sticks will work in any of the slots, but one must be on the right at all times. Because these limitations make sense, they don't necessarily detract from the potential value as a customizable device.

You can take customization a few steps further with the two included 35-gram weights and swappable face plates that come in glossy or matte finishes. The 35-gram increments provide three distinct options. The controller already has a pleasing heft to it, but it feels incredibly solid when you install both inserts.

All of this fits neatly into an MLG-branded carrying case. While no one would call the case particularly durable, it does a good job of keeping the kit in order. Just don't expect the canvas and meager padding to stand up to anything beyond minor wear and tear.

If you press down, you may go left. Maybe right. That's the fun; it's a surprise every time! Truthfully, the D-pads are inaccurate to the point of rendering them functionally stunted.

There's no doubt that this controller has a lot going for it. Third-party controllers have the reputation of lower quality when compared to first-party models, and at first glance, this might be the exception to the rule. Sadly, that isn't entirely the case. Everything functions as it should except for the D-pads. They respond quickly enough; they are just horribly inaccurate. If you press down, you may go left. Maybe right. That's the fun; it's a surprise every time! Truthfully, the D-pads are inaccurate to the point of rendering them functionally stunted. Have fun inputting text with onscreen keyboards. Truthfully, any game that utilizes the D-Pad will suffer from this defect. To say we were let down is a bit of an understatement. It makes the standard Xbox 360 D-pad seem useful, dare we say accurate, by comparison. Luckily, the analog sticks perform quite well. Adjustable tension would've been a nice option though.

It's also worth mentioning that to install or remove the D-pad modules, you apply rotational pressure to the D-pad itself, rather than small plastic ribs present on the housing of the analog sticks. It seems like this action can't be good for a mechanism that is already lacking in the reliability department.

Overall, the poor performance of the D-pads feels like a slap in the face. Any controller that sports the MLG brand and is marketed as a device for competitive gaming should function as intended. This goes double for one that costs $99.99. How can something as tried and true as a D-pad fail so consistently?

The cost-versus-performance ratio is certainly off. This is also illustrated by the lack of force feedback and wireless functionality. Even though it's built to cater to pro gaming standards, that shouldn't hinder its value in a casual setting where these features would be appreciated, especially considering the huge investment.

Don't get us started on the printed Xbox logo in the home button. Mad Catz couldn't even bother to center it properly. We have a cheap, $20 controller with the same design "feature." Thankfully, the PS3 model employs a less-garish design that reflects the same motif used in the button labels.

The Pro Circuit controller is not without its problems. Some of them have to be dealt, with while others might be fixed down the road. Mad Catz has stated that it will ship additional control modules, and a price drop is bound to happen eventually. The solid construction and ability to move parts around make it an attractive piece of equipment. If it weren't for the inaccurate D-pads and lofty price tag, this controller could easily be recommended. In reality, it's all about expectations, and the MLG Pro Circuit Controller from Mad Catz fails to meet even the more modest among them. A D-Pad is important to pro and casual gamer alike, and the inaccuracies present in this controller are unacceptable for any controller, let alone a premium product.

Discussion

120 comments
B3ckett
B3ckett

From what I've learned, you can't make a wireless controller for XBOX. MS won't allow it. I've got a Razer ONZA TE with adjustable stick resistance, a better D-pad and extra programmable shoulder buttons. It's a bit... different than the branded product, but it grew on me. Excellent in BF3. And you can feel the quality in that. Of course ther are some setbacks (the triggers and moved back/start buttons), but in overall is a great help. Plus... doesn't eat any batteries :)

Nic345
Nic345

That's hefty price tag for a 3rd party controller. Like most everyone already said gonna wait until the price drop if I ever pick up.

buying1999
buying1999

Well this is a great deal better than the "child size" controllers that are currently in use on the over priced internet ready blu ray player. Sony really needs a controller redesign. They should copy the award winning SUPERIOR Xbox 360 controller like they copied the Wii-mote with the hd wii knock off move. "Xbox 360 is the BEST console EVER made." --John Carmack

Big_DogXL
Big_DogXL

I hope Sony remade the old Dual-Shock this was made in the old PS3 this release in 2007-2008....

sochio
sochio

carasisisma esa pendejada aca los cotroles normales son muuy caros, ahora me imagino ese control aca ha de costar el triple , no gracias

Loegi
Loegi

They actually succeeded to make the d-pad worse than the xbox 360's one? Wow. Maybe they'll release a better d-pad module, but I doubt they will for a cost effective price. They really dropped the ball on this.

AUGM3NTEDSN1PER
AUGM3NTEDSN1PER

Interesting concept, but I wouldn't pay $100 for a controller, I'll wait until the price drop.

PS3BigFan
PS3BigFan

Looks shiny but the Dual Shock 3 is my only love :)

pharoock
pharoock

it's a nice concept but the price is being exaggerated

salvucci91
salvucci91

HA. -_- 1st party only. Ridiculously priced.

Heinzman57
Heinzman57

Every good gamer knows, 1st party controllers are the only option.

QOSMSTR
QOSMSTR

Well im still happy with my grey, rotating D-pad controller. Dont need anything else really!

7heDragon
7heDragon

Crap, i still want a x360 controller with a good D-pad for fighting games and without those triggers (for fighting games too). Then i would have my standard controller for Shooting games and my modded one for fighting games. But still... if it costed 100 DOLARS and was made by -you must be- MAD -to buy it- CATZ i would never buy for about 200 reais (BR). And if i had a controller like that it would be very unfair to my opponents, so it would mean a lot if microsoft put more tought to another genres of games instead of focusing only in shooting games next time the company designs the controllers.

Ducez_III
Ducez_III

@docwoo I agree. I love their controller designs but they break like crap.

docwoo
docwoo

I've found Mad Catz controllers to be cheap, inaccurate and break easily. Honestly, I'm surprised they're still in business.

docwoo
docwoo

[This message was deleted at the request of the original poster]

ShadowofSonic
ShadowofSonic

I don't like Mad Catz. Their controllers break easily. :x

Rapscallion1980
Rapscallion1980

If I was gonna pay $100 for a controller I'd get an arcade fighting joystick.

Lexaeus775
Lexaeus775

@GoldenRamoth the only thing xbox controllers feel more comfortable with is when playing NHL and call of duty

Deaho
Deaho

I already got the ps move controller for the shooting games plus it is more fun for family games and sport games,so I don't really need any extra controller any more :).

slayerSS-3
slayerSS-3

I have a gears of war controller edition and it have the same flow that this joystick

GoldenRamoth
GoldenRamoth

@mad_krips because they think it's more comfortable? Idk.

PayneKiller
PayneKiller

Why would any sane gamer want a PS3 controller shaped like an xbox controller.

Codester_41
Codester_41

Interesting concept, but if the D-pad isn't the best, it's a no go. I do like the triggers on a 360 (one of the things I'm jealous of) but for $100, no thanks. I'll stick with my reg. PS3 controller.

LilRoss2k3
LilRoss2k3

aw well...woulda been nice if it worked but, alas, it's just another piece of crap from madcatz

aminal85
aminal85

All these overpriced thirdparty headsets and controllers on the market are the biggest wastes of money. Only a fool would payout for this. If you dropped this controller, it would just fall to pieces.

ilantis
ilantis

Don't get fooled people, those controllers as just as good (or bad) as any other, it's just another way to sell useless things. IMHO just go for the updated original pad which also has a better d pad

wamsy102938
wamsy102938

Dont like the alalogs on this controler.

alexbartle
alexbartle

ps3 dpad on 360 controller and 360 analog stick placement on ps3 controller could be nice

guildclaws
guildclaws

It's too big and looks uncomfortable, i prefer the Original Controller.

downloadthefile
downloadthefile

the one good thing that happens in a bad economy is that people trim the fat. this company making a $100 controller which is inferior to the microsoft controller its competing with, is an example of the fat.

OreoPoptart
OreoPoptart

it's the skill not the Controllers.....

Ladiesman17
Ladiesman17

I'm only using Wireless X360 Controller for my PC Gaming. :P

Matt_Wetner
Matt_Wetner

if your skill level lessens depending on what controller you use, then your not MLG

xXFr34k_0uTXx
xXFr34k_0uTXx

Ahh yes. The king of all generic modelz, the Mad Catz. A couple of nightz with one of these babiez and you will hate yourself for wasting your moneyz.

soulless4now
soulless4now

Looks uncomfortable, especially if you don't have man hands.

doc-brown
doc-brown moderator staff

This controller would really be a winner (dare I say at the $100 price point) if there was a decent D-pad and a wireless option. The D-pad is too frustrating and defeats any confidence you may have had in the controller. At $80, with a functional D-Pad alone, I would be all over this thing.

doc-brown
doc-brown moderator staff

@7rooper The electrical points within the controller that make contact with the modules have a springy resistance. That's quite thoughtful on their part.

7rooper
7rooper

well, this controller is too gimmick and seems fragile. That stick swap system will likely fail due to constant force being applied to these ending up in an electric contact issue making it unresponsive. It's a good attemp to offer a PRO peripheral for the console gamers but these targeted consumers aren't going to welcome it. It's weird for them to lack a force feedback and wireless capacity while PC gamers find these features annoying and prefer wired mice and despise FF because that spoils their aim

F-14-D_TOMCAT
F-14-D_TOMCAT

Its nice, but me once I went wire-less when I bought my ps3 and its sixaxis controller I can't use a wired controller.

sammoth
sammoth

$100 Dolla no thankie. And its a Mad Catz uh no thanks to shoddy products.

RPG_Fan_I_Am
RPG_Fan_I_Am

I would lose all the pieces in like 10 minutes. *Slams controller in frustration* O damn, now I gotta put it back together...

mickyfinn84
mickyfinn84

The Xbox360 controller is already brilliant apart from the D-pad. So if this has still got the horrible D-pad then what is the point of it?

BigtimeJoe77
BigtimeJoe77

I wouldn't pay $10 for a MadCatz controller let alone $100.