Modern Warfare 2 may be in the hands of gamers everywhere, but enthusiast gamers only load out with the best gear available! Does MadCatz Combat Controller make the cut or will it be left in the wayside by the traditional DualShock 3?
Probably the largest complaint you’ll hear from console shooter nuts on the PS3 is the controller. Compared to the shooter designed outlay of the 360’s the DualShock 3 is sadly regulated to the “adequate, but not ideal” bin. The shoulders not ideal for firing, the triggers less than triggers, the DualShock 3 is more a “compromise” in the wake of little to no substitutes.. until now. MadCatz has introduced the Combat Controller, a new and bright competitor looking to push controllers to the next level! Here is my review, based on the play testing of Killzone 2, Uncharted 2, and Modern Warfare 2.
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- Shape: Compared to the DualShock 3 the Combat Controller is far more “360” feeling, which is a good thing. It has a larger shape to it, much in thanks to the gripping placed on its sides. This gives the feeling of having “full” hands, which adds just that much more stability to the gaming process.
- Sticks: Unlike the loose swiveling of the DualShock 3’s analogs the Combat Controller’s are far more resistant when pushing them around. While that may sound bad, it actually helps to alleviate any overshooting that could occur due to the DualShock 3’s sticks. This lends it to more tactile movements while moving, which again adds a form of stability in playing.
- Wireless: The PS3’s Combat Controller, unlike its 360 counter-part, is absolutely wireless. Instead of a lengthy wire stretching from console to couch the controller utilizes a dongle in the vein of a flash drive. Unlike a Rock Band dongle, the Combat Controller’s just needs to be inserted into a USB slot and it’ll do the rest. No off and on switches here!
- Heft, or the lack thereof: Despite its larger shape and rough feeling the Combat Controller is surprisingly, if not disappointingly, light. Compared to the DualShock 3 is was a feather, so much so that it is on par with the original SixAxiS in weight. While it was “okay” for the SixAxiS in its time, in the age of DualShock 3 there is no excuse for this. It not only lowered the quality of the controller, it picked at the back of my mind while playing.
- No Rumble: The big deal with the DualShock 3, more than anything, was that it brought back rumble into the feature list. Though gamers were able to cope with its absence in the SixAxiS its advent back onto the scene has made it a must have for console controllers. Sadly, even sinfully, the Combat Controller completely lacks this. The absence was instantly noticed and utterly lowered the quality of enjoyment I felt with playing. Though it may just seem like random shaking it was another piece that made up the greater puzzle.
- R1, L1: While not ideal, the fact is that R1 and L1 are staples for shooters on the PS3. All the major shooters in some vital way or another require their usage and for the Combat Controller this proved to be an impossibility. Unlike the DualShock 3 the Combat Controller’s shoulders are squared.. SQUARED! This may have been okay if these buttons were seldom used, but R1 and L1 in most shooters require them for aiming down the sights and shooting. This lead my fingers to having to bend over the shoulders to reach the buttons. Worse yet, the buttons are far larger than where the “input detection” is. Playing I could easily push the sides of the buttons completely in and not have them register, I had to push in the middle of the button. In contrast to the DualShock 3 I could press in anywhere and they would faithfully register. Again, had the L1 and R1 played smaller roles it may not have been a big deal but for titles like Killzone 2 and Uncharted 2 they were required for shooting and aiming and that just wasn’t going to happen.
- Triggers: A feature that you’d think would be positive, sadly, is relegated to negativity. Initially the prospect of true, blissful triggers was intoxicating. While the DualShock 3 had “triggers” they always felt slippery and weak. So, to have them in the Combat Controller was like a wish come true.. too bad they fudged it. Attempting to copy the 360 triggers the Combat Controller’s are far, far more resistant to pressing. So much so that this lead to me literally having to “slam it” to even register the triggers. Even the 360 felt slippery to this. In addition to the extra effort needed it prevents “tapping” of any sort. Using a semi-automatic weapon literally felt like torture (and that’s if I could use the triggers to fire) to the finger and left me sorely burned.
- “Combat Buttons”: To “aid” the player in annoying button presses is the inclusion of two “combat buttons”, located at the bottom sides of the controller. Each button has the potential to be assigned to 3 different buttons (Left; L3, Cross, Circle. Right; R3, Square, Triangle.) Instead of pressing any of the actual buttons these can instead be used as a substitute. While fine in theory the cold fact was that the buttons were far too small and oddly placed for convenience. It was far and away easier for me to just use the original buttons than wrestle with the action of using these. Again, another bright feature set to the ranks of the negatives.
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MadCatz Combat Controller is a great concept, a control for shooter nuts looking for another option on the PS3. Sadly the thing just couldn’t keep up to even the adequate standards of the superior DualShock 3. Had MadCatz took the time to look at the not just the 360’s design but its feel and transplanted it over to the DualShock, then things could have worked out. Instead MadCatz attempted to give the thing its own personality and turned it into a punk, rough to the press and light to the feel. So, do yourself a favor and keep on moving!
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(Combat Controller for the PlayStation 3. Designed and Sold by MadCatz. Reg. $49.99)