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LOOK & FEEL
I always used to wonder what it would be like to play a racing game without using a regular console controller, so one day I did my usual search through ebay for random rubbish that I'll never use and found this Mad Catz MC2 Xbox 360 Steering Wheel for just over £20, so naturally I bought it.
The first thing that struck me about this MC2 wheel is that it's rather small (wheel circumference), I was expecting something a little bigger but then again I've never used another wheel so perhaps this is the standard size. Ignoring the size, the wheel looks very nice with its sleek white design and has great grip thanks to the rubber around it so you wont find your hands slipping from the wheel which is always helpful when you're driving.
Due to the wheel being fairly small, when I play with it I tend to only use one hand as using both feels like I am strangling a midget (ok..it's not that bad, but it does feel unnatural).
The MC2 wheel has 270 degrees of motion and feels very smooth to turn so you certainly wont struggle to do doughnuts in your car !
There are two grooves in the bottom of the plastic which are designed so that you can rest the wheel on your knees whilst you play. This is how I personally play, but let me tell you that it can get rather uncomfortable after a while as your legs have to be quite close together as you can imagine. The wheel also has two suction cups at the bottom so that you can place it firmly onto a desk or other surface. I'd recommend playing with the wheel on a desk, with the pedals underneath the desk and the TV in front of you - I believe this would be the most comfortable way to play for sure, but sadly my desk is nowhere near my TV.
Setting up the wheel for play is easy, you just connect the pedals to the wheel with the provided cable, and then connect the wheel to your xbox 360 with the provided USB cable. Turn on your 360 and it will recognize the wheel straight away so you can get straight into the action.
The MC2 is fairly cheap as far as xbox 360 steering wheels go, but the price doesn't reflect the quality of the unit. Nothing feels cheap, it feels very strong and is a nice weight - not too heavy & not too light, it's just right in my opinion. All the buttons & gadgets on the wheel feel and look exactly like they do on your regular 360 controller.
On the wheel you will find the usual 360 controls - A, B, Y, X, LT, RT, Start, Back, & Guide button. The left and right bumpers are located behind the wheel in the form of triggers which are used to change your gears up and down, unless you are a wimp like me and use an automatic car.
Pedals come with the package which are rather impressive. There is a brake and acceleration pedal on the unit, and they are very responsive and easy to use. When using the pedals I've never had a problem with them slipping or being pushed away across the floor by mistake, they stay firmly in their place - just the way they should.
There seems to be two different styles of MC2 wheel on the market as one of them comes with a gear box on the side. My wheel does not have this gear box, but I have read elsewhere that it doesn't disappoint.
The MC2 wheel also has connectivity for your xbox live headsets, so chatting with friends whilst racing is possible - great for those moments when you want to scream at the idiot who just rammed you off the road in a poor attempt to over take you.
I purchased forza motor sport 2 a while before I bought this wheel and I used so play quite often with my friends using my xbox 360 controller. I always found myself coming in about 3rd or 4th place but once I started using the MC2 wheel I suddenly morphed into lewis hamilton and found myself winning tons of the races we played....
I find it so much easier playing with this wheel, I'm not sure why - it just feels so much more real and really does what you tell it to - it's so responsive. Accelerating and braking is great, if you slowly push down on the accelerator your car will slowly accelerate on the screen just like you'd expect it to, likewise with braking.
I think part of the fact that using the MC2 Wheel makes me play better is that it forces you to play in an upright position and it makes you concentrate more as it's far more exciting racing your mates with a wheel rather than using the same xbox 360 controller that you've been using for all your other games.
Driving at high speeds is brilliant as you try to keep control of your car using quick hand movements on the wheel, and even more exciting is playing on need for speed in the drifting events - WOW that is brilliant, drifting on a computer game has never been more fun than it is with the MC2 - you get a real sense of achievement when you pull off a high scoring drift.
The MadCatz MC2 wheel is a fantastic piece of kit for the price you pay and should definitely be considered a purchase for those of you that have never used a racing wheel before and can't afford the (much) more expensive wheels on the market.
At the time of writing I can't currently find a retailer that's selling this wheel, but there are a few on ebay for around the £25 mark which is a bargain for what you get.
The MC2 is extremely responsive, looks great, feels great, and is very enjoyable to play with, so what are you waiting for - try it out for yourself and make your racing games more exciting. ;)
~ Review also published on Ciao.