The MLG Pro Circuit Controller, released by Mad Catz, has been developed for MLG Pro players and comes exquisitely packaged showing off its MLG influence in a rather nice red and blue display box. The package also comes complete with a carry case so you needn’t think that this display case will become the pad’s new home when it’s not in use. The case is rather basic but serves its purpose – ideal for transporting your new best friend to and from events or even a friend’s house, you will most certainly not want to be without it!

The pad feels great to hold and by using the weights that come supplied you can perfectly weight it to suit you. I must admit that this feature seemed like a bit of a gimmick, possibly aimed specifically at pro players, but I quickly found that the weights made the pad feel balanced. The pad comes with two individual weights that may be used in several different arrangements. You can use both of them giving the pad a weight not too dissimilar to the old Xbox S Controller, you can opt to have no additional weights giving a very light pad similar to the official wired pad, or you can weight the pad to make it either top or bottom heavy. I preferred using both weights to give the pad a more solid feel and as I’ve been used to the weight of a pad with a battery it felt far more natural to use both weights.

The design of the pad is sturdy, durable and feels a lot more comfortable to hold than the official Xbox pad. The buttons respond really well when pressed and not at all spongy, or like my previous Mad Catz pad, too edgey which meant the buttons and triggers gave me blisters. The matte finish gives the pad a soft feel and a very pleasing aesthetic look. The faceplate of the pad can be removed and changed to a gloss set of plates (these are included in the kit) while they do look rather snazzy I preferred the matte look, especially as the rest of the pad is also coated in the matte finish. The pad’s faceplate is well made and fits snugly onto the pad, locked into place by a set of small magnets. These enable the faceplate to be easily removed, which is essential so that you can swap the stick configuration of the pad quickly and easily.

The sticks and dpad of the Pro Circuit Controller can be swapped about and placed into any of the 3 positions on the pad. The pack comes with 6 modules: 2 PS3 sticks, 2 Xbox 360 sticks, an Xbox dpad and a PS3 dpad. These modules slot in and out by gently twisting them once you’ve removed the faceplate. The modules are locked into place (or removed) by matching up the lines located on the pad – similar to how you’d lock a lens on an SLR camera. What’s great about the modules is that you get both the Xbox and PS3 sticks so you can build yourself the perfect hybrid controller.

The positions that you can place the modules in are located in similar locations to the sticks and dpad of a standard Xbox controller, although they are spaced out ever so slightly differently which made the pad far more comfortable to hold and game with, especially over extended play sessions. Often the problem with third-party control pads is that the sticks aren’t quite as responsive as the official pads and are blamed for ‘slow turns’, well I can’t say the MLG pad was to blame for any mistakes in my gaming! While it took me some slight adjustment to get used to the new sticks, I’d say the MLG trumped the official pad because of the smooth movement of the sticks, I also felt that they were slightly more responsive too.

Naturally the Pro Pad is wired which reduces latency, the cable comes in at a generous 3 meters and can be disconnected from the control pad which means it can be stowed far better. The cable is nylon braid and so it won’t tangle as easily as the usual wired control pads. While I understand the need for pro players to use a wired controller, I did find myself getting into a tangle of wires as I lounged on the sofa especially as I game with a headset.

The tangle of wires wasn’t my main concern though, how would I connect my headset to the controller? To use the mic on my Tritton 720+ headset I need to connect a mic puck and the MLG pad doesn’t have the usual mic connectors that the official pad has, luckily Mad Catz has a perfect solution – by using the headset adapter that comes packaged with the kit the mic of my headset worked absolutely fine.

When compared to a standard Xbox control pad I found that the A,X,Y and B buttons didn’t protrude off of the pad as much and the triggers feel far less spongy – you don’t have to press them half as far as the official pad. The RB and LB spring more nicely than the clumsy click of the official pad. The sticks and dpad are identical replicas of the Xbox controller and I’d imagine the same could be said for the PS3 sticks and dpad.

The sticks have a much smoother ‘turning circle’ to them, the sticks on the official Xbox pad feel a bit clunky and are rather noisy as they tap against the side of the casing, the MLG sticks are not only smooth as they glide around under your thumbs but when you flick the sticks fully against the casing they are significantly quieter. I did however notice that in one of my Xbox module sticks there was an area of the rotation that grated slightly and I’d hope that this is purely down to a dodgy module as the other one is fine.

While thumbstick style is down to personal preference, the PS3 modules were far more comfortable to game and what’s more they offer slightly more versatility in that the caps can be screwed off and can be replaced with different styled or coloured caps. You can also add spacers (sold separately) to adjust the height of the sticks. I did find that the caps would loosen mainly when playing Halo – strafing about a lot seemed to cause this problem, it can be remedied quickly but even screwing them on tightly would, at times, still result in them coming loose.

Can a pad really up your game though? Sure with an improved response of thumbsticks or with face buttons located underneath the pad (so you don’t need to take your thumbs away from the RS) a pad can certainly up your game. While the MLG Pro Controller doesn’t feature face buttons on the underside of the pad, I did find that I was far more accurate with my shots, on my second game of Halo 4 while using the pad I came top! “Whoop dee do” you say? Well previously I had been really struggling to get a foothold in the multiplayer of Halo 4 and to jump to top was certainly a marked improvement.

I do have a few minor niggles with the pad. The placement of the Guide, Back and Start buttons have been moved so you don’t accidentally press them, but in all my years gaming with an official pad I’ve never accidentally pressed any of them so why move them? It’s hardly a reason not to buy the pad, although you may need to readjust and ignore your muscle memory especially for games that rely on the use of the back button. I can’t say that this effected my gaming but for some gamers the extra distance you need to move your thumb will add valuable seconds to your competitive gaming mainly when checking scoreboards or tagging enemies in Battlefield.

The only other niggle is that the cost of the pad might be a little off-putting. At a price tag of £89.99, which is nearly 4 times the price of a standard controller, the MLG Pro Circuit Controller is a tad expensive but it does come with a 2–year warranty and a whole host of additional extras. Personally I think the kit is great value considering what’s included in the package, but you may find yourself sticking with one particular setup and never using the additional parts. The customisable options are great though and extremely well-built. Although there are other controllers on the market that offer similar services, this is the first pad that you can change the setup of at anytime, mixing and matching the different setups to suit the environment and game you are playing.

Personally I’ve found that the MLG Pro Circuit Controller has upped my game and is certainly far more comfortable to game with – for me the only thing missing is buttons underneath the pad, which can be found in Mad Catz’s previous Modern Warfare controllers, with this addition the MLG Pro Circuit Controller would certainly be my perfect control pad but regardless of this the comfort and control that it offers means it is now a firm feature in my gaming.