Reviewed: June 27, 2002
Type: Steering Wheel and Pedals
3D Interactive Tour
When it comes to driving games and the steering wheels used to play them, I like to think of myself as somewhat of an expert. I got my first steering wheel/pedal combo back in 1995 and since then I have tried over 14 different wheels from various manufacturers for both PC and consoles.
While most of these wheels have come from ThrustMaster, one of my all-time favorites is still the MadCatz Andretti Racing Wheel. In fact, that was the last wheel I reviewed from MadCatz until now. As much as I loved the Andretti Wheel, the new MadCatz MC2 Wheel and Pedals combo for the Xbox is light-years beyond in both quality and design.
I’ve always been a bit leery of wheels that I couldn’t physically attach to my computer desk. I recently reviewed the ThrustMaster NASCAR Pro Force Feedback for the PC and PlayStation 2, and while the wheel worked well enough, it just wasn’t that comfortable sitting on my lap. The MC2 wheel solves this problem with a very clever mounting design.
In addition to the standard suction cups that let you stick this wheel to any smooth surface such as a coffee table, etc., the bottom of the wheel base is molded to fit perfectly over your legs. And while other wheels offer this feature, MadCatz takes it one step further with curved extensions that slide down from each side to extend the arc almost 180 degrees. This allows the wheel to rest firmly in place on your lap with hardly any slippage making it one of the best wheels I have ever used on any console system.
The wheel offers a nice textured rubber grip and convenient button placement. The six buttons found on the typical Xbox controller are split into two groups on either side of the wheel hub. The center of the wheel features a D-pad that resembles a car horn so you can easily navigate game menus, and for those of you who like to shift your gears manually you can choose between the easy-to-reach butterfly paddles behind the wheel or the nice big knobby stick shift mounted on the right of the base.
Behind the wheel is a multi-colored panel of lights that arcs across to the right as you accelerate. While it looks incredibly cool you dare not take your eyes of the screen to watch it (like I did) or you will probably wreck (like I did). The lights, which go from green to yellow to red, can also be used to calibrate the wheel using the new Accudrive Calibration System. The ACS lets you fine-tune the wheel and adjust the sensitivity of the wheel to your personal taste in driving.
The MC2 offers some good rumble effects – not to be confused with force feedback. The wheel will vibrate when you drive over rough terrain or hit an object or another car. While these effects are not physically accurate, they do a respectable job of adding some tactile feedback to the driving experience.
Pedals are typically a problem with most wheel/pedal combos, mainly due to their light weight and the fact that they slip around the floor and eventually work their way out of reach. The pedal base of the MC2 features large rubber feet that are deeper than average, and the bottom of these feet have deep textured grooves allowing the pedal base to grip firmly in carpet or hardwood floors.
The pedals are designed with a reverse hinging mechanism that makes them pivot just like a real car. This also allows you to apply more downward force on the pedals rather than horizontal force that would normally cause the pedals to scoot away from your seat. If you are one of those drivers that brake and accelerate with the same foot then the pedal base has a nice flat textured section designed for you to rest your left foot and maintain even more stability.
The MC2 comes with a few additional amenities such as generous lengths of cables for connecting the pedals to the wheel and the wheel to the Xbox, and there is also a convenient socket for a memory card in the top of the wheel housing. This officially licensed Xbox peripheral also comes with the MadCatz Lifetime Warranty, to protect your investment.
I put the MC2 wheel through its paces with several driving games on the Xbox, but Project Gotham Racing and RalliSport Challenge were the two that really stood out. The MC2 worked right out of the box with Gotham, but the slip-n-slide nature of RalliSport required a few tweaks of the ACS before it “felt” right.
At only $59.99, this is a very affordable controller, and with the increasing list of driving games in the Xbox library chances are you already own at least one or two games that would be greatly enhanced with this wheel. The MadCatz MC2 Racing Wheel and Pedals is the perfect choice to compliment the power and realism the Xbox has to offer, and a must-buy for anyone who wants to immerse themselves in the ultimate driving experience.