Mad Catz is easily one of the most recognizable names in the console peripheral business. Making 3rd party controllers, steering wheels and memory cards for virtually all of the major consoles, Mad Catz has built a respectable name for themselves among many gamers throughout the world.
The 900MHz Dual Force controller for the Playstation gaming console is a formidable piece of kit. With the batteries installed the controller is almost heavy enough to be used as an "equalizer" in a fight. Heck, it could just as easily have been called the "deadly force" controller. Of course the wonderful trade-off is the total absence of a cord limiting your play distance from the console.
The Dual Force is a nice charcoal black in color with comfortable rubber grips located on the underside. The button layout is identical to a standard Dual Shock controller with the exception of the Start and Select buttons and a little macro LED that sits below the digital/analog LED.
Besides the initial weight difference, the controller feels quite comfortable in ones hands and the build quality is most certainly solid.
The controller also comes with a little receiver that plugs into the controller slot and its own charging station...sweet!
If there is one thing that you can bet the house on, it is that technology continues to move forward. With the advancement (and affordability) of radio frequencies being implemented in cordless phones it was just a matter of time before the logical move to wireless controllers was implemented. Replacing the "old" infrared cordless, 900MHz wireless controllers offer two very distinct advantages. They can be used further away from the console when compared to infrared (Mad Catz claims a full 30 feet) and the signal can't be blocked by someone standing in front of the controller…a big plus. Heck, you don't even have to be facing the receiver unit at all.
Before getting started you will need to charge the controller in the provided charging station for a full 10 hours. While many impatient gamers will most certainly find the wait absolute murder, there is no way around this…the controller will not accept normal alkaline batteries.
Once charged we checked the little dip switches on both the controller and the receiver to make sure they were set the same (there are enough combinations of settings to allow for eight wireless controllers to be operated simultaneously), popped the receiver into the controller slot and started up RRV.
Now before I get any further there is something you need to know. While this controller will work very well with most PS2 games (we could not get it to work with The Bouncer), the buttons are not analog like the PS2 Dual Shock. The only analog buttons are the thumbsticks.
That being said, there is a nice little feature on this controller and that is the fact that you can set it up to mimic a steering wheel. RRV immediately recognized the controller as a NeGcon in this mode and allowed me to adjust the steering sensitivity in the game.
To test the receiver capabilities of the controller a couple of API staffers stood in between the receiver module and the wireless pad and sure enough it worked just fine with no break in communications. Don't try this trick with an infrared controller during heated gameplay…it will definitely cut out.
Another added bonus is the ability to input macros. Fighting games benefit the most from this feature by having the ability to input, store and execute critical combo and strings with ease.
We did find a very big flaw with this controller though. On repeated occasions the controller would cut out and lose it's handshake with the remote module for no apparent reason. This got increasingly annoying during driving games when we would suddenly loose total control of the car (and first place) and have to frantically move the controller about to get the signal back again. Considering the fact that we do have a lot of other 900MHz devices around the office, we went out of our way to turn EVERYTHING else off and even tried different dipswitch settings to no avail. Time and time again for no apparent reason the controller would cut out and leave us high and dry.
Because of this annoying (and unfortunate) little glitch we really can't recommend this controller for use in any type of game that requires split second reflexes. That leaves you with RPG's, strategy and some adventure type games…not too good in my opinion.
· 900Mhz wireless functionality
· Full PSOne compatibility
· Macro configurable capabilities
· Digital, analog and steering wheel selectable options
· Up to eight controllers can be used simultaneously
· Charging/docking station is included
The 900MHz Dual Force controller is definitely a well-built unit. It feels nice and solid in ones hands and doesn't scrimp on build quality. To back this up, Mad Catz is offering a full one-year warranty on this product.
I find it unfortunate that I cannot whole-heartedly recommend this product because of the annoying breaks in communications between the controller and the receiving device. If it weren't for this nearly fatal flaw the controller would be an out and out winner hands down. I am hopeful that perhaps our test unit was just a damaged device and if Mad Catz wishes to send over another controller for us to test I would be more than happy to do so and amend this review accordingly. But as it stands right now, gamers will find this controller totally unusable in all but a few genres of games that absolutely do not require any sort of quick responses.