Over the course of my three years as a videogaming journalist, I have received my fair share of peripherals. No wait, let me rephrase that -- an overwhelming share of Playstation/PS2 related peripherals, ranging from steering wheels, to memory cards, to light guns, even dance pads, and of course, the dreaded 3rd party controller. I was never a fan of 3rd party peripherals, specifically mega memory cards and controllers. I've loathed them since the early rising of the Playstation, and I still do, well not the controllers; not anymore at least.
Introducing Mad Catz 900MHZ Dual Force 2 Wireless controller, not just an ordinary 3rd party pad, but one that I'm sure many of you will find to be quite worthy of itself and bearing the Dual Shock 2 design. First off, the first thing I noticed was how firm and strong the pad was. As soon as I wrapped my fingers around the bars I felt the rubber grips, which are an excellent inclusion for additional comfort. From left to right the controllers are identical in length, so there's absolutely nothing to worry about as far as reaching distance is concerned. If you are accustomed to the Dual Shock 2, getting accustomed with the wireless pad should take absolutely no time. The layout is absolutely the same, but the face/action buttons erect out of the surface a bit higher, and the digital pad is designed like a general digital pad and not like the DS2's. This makes the ability to play fighting games much more comfortable.
The two biggest differences are that 1) The Mad Catz pad is a bit heavier, but at the same time feels more fearsome and 2) The top of the controller doesn't form a valley in between the shoulder buttons, but more of an arc. Both are due to the fact that this controller has a battery implanted in it. Before use, the battery has to be first charged for a couple of hours with the provided adapter. Although, I charged the controller for a good 15 seconds and got a hearty 1-hour out of SSX Tricky; it could've easily been more, before I turned off the game and charged the controller for 4 hours. Before doing so, I began testing the controllerís signal strength of 900MHZ. First I covered the pad with a thick cloth - it worked. Then, I went inside a closet - it worked. I stepped out of my room - it worked. I walked inside another room and closed the door - it worked. I went downstairs into the kitchen - it worked. Lastly I stepped inside the basement and proceeded down...well I'll be a sailor's uncle - it worked! I was stunned. The frequency of this controller never failed to amaze me. There was no cord to care about, which completely eliminated the 'high' potential happening where my niece or nephew could trip on the cord of the DS2 sending him/herself on their knees and my PS2 hurling a good 3 feet to a wooden floor.
I popped in a few fast paced games like SSX Tricky, Tony Hawk 3, NFL 2K2, Virtua Fighter 4 and Capcom vs. SNK 2, rest assured I didn't hit the wrong buttons, or accidentally drop the controller, or shamelessly lose to an opponent. In fact, my gaming with the wireless pad was the exact same, if not slightly better as it is with the DS2. This is coming from a guy who absolutely 'hates' 3rd party controllers. Rest assured, I have been rekindled. The price tag of the pad is a bit steep, a cool $60, but with the addition of the macro feature, you will be allowed to set one button as the key to pulling off a 10 hit combo in Tekken Tag Tournament. There are three control methods, analog, digital and steering wheel (maximum precision for racing games). The vibration is strong; the same force as the DS2's and of course analog sensitivity is present. The pad is fully compatible with the PSOne, so if you're interested, need not to worry. For what it's worth, the Dual Force 2 is a really good 3rd party controller that has one minimal fault. The placement of the Start and Select buttons is a bit awkward, as they are both position to the right of the Mad Catz logo, with the Select button residing beneath the Start button. It would've been smarter to place the Select button on to the left, opposite of the Start button, but that's my only gripe, and a small one at that.
If you've got $60 and are looking towards investing in a peripheral, give the Dual Force 2 Wireless controller a look. It's one impressive 3rd party product.
3/5/2002 Arnold Katayev