Peripheral maker Mad Catz and Ubisoft have come together to bring us gamers a new accessory for the tactical shooter, Ghost Recon Future Soldier. In this review I will be putting the Ghost Recon Future Soldier Pro Gamepad for the Xbox 360 console through its paces. This controller features an array of performance-enhancing features including: PrecisionAim technology, quick-fire triggers and an exclusive Ghost Recon Future Soldier combat button layout. So with thumbs at the ready lets jump in and go hands-on.
First off, the Pro Gamepad is a wired controller, so there are no batteries to worry about and it also reduces any input lag that you may have from a wireless controller. A generous 3 metre long braided cable is attached to the controller with a quick cable release mechanism poised at the other end, should anyone trip on the long-running cable while it is connected to the USB port of your Xbox 360.
The size and shape of the Pro Gamepad mirrors the silhouette of an official Xbox 360 controller, however as you'll notice from the pictures below the Pro Gamepad is a little more angular at the top side of the pad - where you’ll find the branded game’s logo above the nested main Xbox button and slightly risen Back and Start buttons. The most noticeable feature from this area of the pad is its left and right ergonomic non-slip pistol grips - a bicycle rubber grip-like texture area that spans each side of the pad, which can be ideal during those sweaty-palm gaming sessions.
The Ghost Recon Future Solider Pro Gamepad from Mad Catz
The controller’s flattop face buttons are laid out in their usual location, yet compared to the official controller they have more of a soft padded feel to them, with the X button being more ‘spongy’ out of the four.
The D-Pad has a risen crossface design than the full circle face type found on the original controllers. This kind of design is well suited for selecting modes and weapon types in the game - where you only need four of the eight-way directions to select. This type of crossface style would also suit beat-em-ups should you prefer this kind of D-Pad to easily execute your Hadoukens.
Spanning either side of the D-Pad, in their usual positions, are the two analogue sticks. The striking feature of these sticks is, when plugged in and powered, the clear plastic material of them light up from the white LED sitting inside. Mad Catz state that this is ‘immersive’ for the gamer, but to me I found it can be too distracting. When held the right way, the lights can glimmer right under you nose whilst gaming in a darkened room, and is probably more immersive for the people sitting around you rather than yourself.
Lights off - Showing the Pro Gamepad 'Immersive' illuminated analogue sticks
On the very top face of the controller you’ll find the usual L2 and R2 triggers and L1 and R1 buttons. The quick-fire triggers feel like they have less travel in them, even though if you put them next to an official pad they stick out much the same. In practice they do indeed feel faster to press. The L1, R1 buttons have less width than the official controller, this is mainly due to the angular area that they have been designed to sit in. The feel of them is good and because they are shorter in width they feel more responsive when pressed.
When looking underneath the Pro Gamepad you will instantly discover something a little different to other controllers on the market. Beside each grip handle there is a small fingertip-sized Combat button, and above each button are switches that enable you to program the functionality of what each does. The left Combat 1 button can be mapped to a single position of the D-Pad: be it Down, Left or Up. The right side Combat 2 button can be mapped to a single face button: from X, A or B buttons. So whichever D-Pad or face button you use the most, these buttons can be mapped to these two Combat buttons underneath, which in turn allows you to keep your hands more on the analogue sticks, shooting things.
Underneath the Pro Gamepad you'll find the two Combat buttons and switches
This all sounds great right? Well, sadly not quite. Because of my grip, these Combat buttons were around 2 cm too high to be easy accessible and comfortable to press whilst gaming. I had to alter my grip slightly to keep my fingers on these buttons all the time, which would reduce the overall grip around each side of the controller and also change the feel of the analogue sticks. With that said, this feature is certainly an interesting idea for a controller, and it really isn’t limited to Ghost Recon Future Soldier either, as it can be used in any game to give you that extra special advantage.
Retailing for around £44.99 the Mad Catz Ghost Recon Future Soldier Pro Gamepad comes in at a premium price for most gamers, a price that even surpasses the cost of an official wireless controller, so why should you get one? Well, if you can get past the position of the Combat buttons underneath by changing your grip slightly (should you find your grip unfitting to reach these buttons comfortably) then there are plenty of in-game performance-enhancing features on this controller to give good reason to recommend it to any gamer looking for that extra advantage in-game.
- Generous 3m cable length
- Combat buttons is a good idea
- Features can be used in other games
- High price for a wired controller
- Combat buttons require change of grip
- LED lit thumbsticks can be a little off-putting