Mad Catz has brought their MC2 wheel to the Xbox 360 and the result is just as good as the MC2 Universal wheel I reviewed back in 2004. It is looking like the Xbox 360 is going to be the king of racing games just like the Xbox was last gen and it is absolutely worth it to have a steering wheel if you are serious about racing. The MC2 360 performs great, is comfortable to use, and wont put too big of a dent in your wallet. What more could you ask for?
Design and Features
If you are familiar with the MC2 wheels (read my MC2 Universal wheel review
) released for the last gen consoles, the 360 version isnt different at all. The MC2 wheel design was a proven winner in the last gen so it is understandable that Mad Catz would use it again. The buttons are in pretty much the exact same spots with the only difference being the addition of the Xbox Guide button below the Start and Back buttons. All of the buttons are in fairly easy reach and once you figure out where everything is, navigating menus, changing cameras, shifting gears, and using the emergency brake comes naturally. The pedal unit is fairly standard and attaches with a screw-in multipin connector and once you get it tightened up it is in there solid. Everything is molded in gray, white, and green plastic to match the Xbox 360 color scheme so it looks pretty good. The steering wheel is coated with grippy rubber in all of the right places so you dont need to worry about sweaty palms slipping too much. No complaints here.
Setup of the MC2 360 Wheel is a breeze. You just connect the pedals to the wheel unit and then plug in the USB cable into your Xbox 360 and you are all set. There is no external power supply as the wheel draws the power it needs through the USB cable. This means one less plug in to worry about (thankfully) but it also means the vibration function in the wheel is pretty wimpy. Once you get everything plugged in, you just need to find a comfy place to sit. The wheel has suction cups on the bottom if you want to mount it to a table and there are also leg supports so you can set the wheel right on your lap.
It isnt all perfect, though. One problem areas is the pedals. There are little rubber feet on the bottom that are there to keep it from sliding around on the floor but they do a very poor job. Even on carpet it can slide so much that you have to readjust the pedals every couple of laps. Also, the pedals themselves are double hinged which makes it hard to feel just how hard you are pressing down. Another issue is that there isnt any dead zone adjustment like on the MC2 Universal wheel and you have to do it in-game (if available) instead. This is annoying, but you get used to it.
When you have everything set up the way you like it, the MC2 360 Wheel performs like a champ. I said in my Project Gotham Racing 3 review
that My only complaint is that there arent any racing wheels for Xbox 360 yet because that would have really sealed the deal. Well, now there is a decent wheel available so the deal is thoroughly sealed. You need to own PGR3 and this wheel if you are an Xbox 360 owner. The wheel works perfectly with PGR3 and it feels absolutely amazing. Using the wheel along with the in-car view is such an indescribably great experience you need to play it to believe it. Other games such as Need for Speed Most Wanted work great as well but PGR3 is definitely where the wheel shines. Backwards compatible racers work fine as well, but the lack of adjustment on the wheel is a bit of a hindrance. I would rather play Forza with my Fanatec Speedster 3 on the Xbox, but that is just me. For the most part, the wheel functions amazingly well with any 360 racing game you throw at it.
The Xbox 360 is going to be a killer system for racing games. With the great games already out and the promise of Forza 2, Rallisport 3, Test Drive unlimited, GTR2, and many more on the horizon, racing fans are in for a treat. If you are a serious racing fan, having a steering wheel peripheral takes an already great game and turns it into something truly special. Im not going to lie and say youll be a better videogame driver when you use a wheel, but youll have 10x as much fun and that is what counts. The Mad Catz MC2 360 Wheel is solidly constructed and well designed and will serve you well. It isnt perfect, but the flaws are mostly forgivable. Just be prepared to have something heavy to set in front of the pedals so they dont slide all over the place. My one real complaint is the price. The MC2 360 Wheel will set you back $70 which seems like a bit much considering we could get the same wheel for less than $50 in the last gen (and it was universal, too). On the plus side, the investment you make now will result in lots of great gaming in the future so it isnt too bad. The Mad Catz MC2 360 is a great wheel and I highly recommend it.