There are heaps of aftermarket controllers for consoles, and - for the most part - there always have been. Rather than trying to build a better “mousetrap”, often they're created as a cheaper alternative, or - in some cases - to deliver a controller with bling.
So you'll no doubt forgive me for thinking, when I was told about the Major League Gaming Pro Circuit Controller, that it was going to be just another flash paint job and little else. The unit is, however, exactly what it purports to be; a controller designed with the serious gamer in mind.
The unit is wonderfully packaged in a reasonably-sized carrying box. Opening the package, you see a shiny black controller, in its basic form factor. In addition, there is a detachable cord, zippered cloth carry bag, and an assortment of extra thumbsticks, directional-pads, and a face plate. Extra thumbsticks and d-pads? There's a reason for that.
The controller, as you would expect, has all the basic systems and specifications of a normal PlayStation controller. It is connected to your PS3 with a cord (none of that fancy wireless carry on here), and is made of plastic with a gloss finish. The cord is connected with a screw-type coupling which ensures that the cord will not come away in the heat of combat.
This is a solid unit, with all the different parts connecting and clipping in with a good solid feel. The braided cord is all about quality and toughness. I put it through the stretch test (a very rough snap pull on the cord to simulate someone yanking the unit with force; it's a heart in the mouth sort of test and if it fails we break the unit) and there was no evidence of give.
The cable connector has a particular solidity about it that will ensure none of the splitting and fraying you would see in plastic cables with regular connectors. The cable is three meters in length, which is particularly generous and more than enough for most gaming situations.
This is where the MLG Pro Circuit Controller takes a major departure from most other units currently on the market. Each of the thumb controllers are interchangeable, and can be placed in any of three positions - including where you would normally have the d-pad.
The plug-in modules can be twisted in and out, and placed into whatever position you are most comfortable with. In addition, there are additional modules that allow you to customise the controls with the same types of concave thumbsticks you would find on an Xbox. This is also includes an Xbox d-pad.
Both the hand grip and and faceplates of the unit are also detachable. You can choose to purchase additional plates, which are available in different colours and textures, however the unit also comes with additional matte-finish hand grips.
An advertisement for the controller, showing the variations in design which are possible with the (purchased separately) customization components
The controller comes with a set of two weights, which are housed underneath the unit. Each are 35 grams, and it was surprising how many testers had a different preference in what they thought was a comfortable weight. Effectively, the setup only gives you three weight settings, which is unfortunate as I would have liked to have seen more weights so I could have made a finer adjustment.
The controller was very easy to setup, and what I liked most about it was the ability to customise where the thumbsticks were. Bringing the left hand stick from the left bottom to the top left made a lot of difference for some, particularly those who normally played on the Xbox. This was especially true for long gaming sessions.
The unit was incredibly easy to use. The different setup and combination of modules makes the MLG Pro Circuit Controller one of the most comfortable we have used.
If you want to stand out from the herd and want a controller that is unique to you, this unit fulfills both requirements. Its level of adjustment does make a difference, even if it takes a bit of time to get used to the different layout. Recommended for the serious enthusiast and hardcore competitive gamers amongst you.