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E3 2010: Mad Catz (Impressions)

Posted by: John at 6/27/2010 8:22 AM
Mad Catz seems to really making a big push lately as a third party accessory developer and with some big licenses and working partnerships in tow, they had a lot to show off at E3. Unfortunately, my time was limited with them but I did get to see some of their heavy hitters.

First up were some new products coming out for Call of Duty: Black Ops. You know before that Mad Catz had some Modern Warfare 2 branded items and here we’re getting some new things for Black Ops as well. The Call of Duty: Black Ops PreciousAIM controller will come as a wired controller for the Xbox 360 or a wireless controller for the PlayStation 3. The PlayStation 3 version will need a USB dongle but it will at least be wireless.

The grips are rubber so they should be easy to hold when the action is frantic on screen. What I really liked though are two Action buttons that are located on the bottom of the controller that’s easily reachable with the middle finger. Now, you can map these two buttons to various commands through a toggle switch but the two that I would do in a heartbeat for Call of Duty are the sprint and melee button. So many times I would play I had trouble pressing the thumbsticks to initiate the melee while moving but now you can have that function on one of the two buttons below. The sticks have a red glow to them, which isn’t anything that will enhance your gameplay but can be cool to look at. What can enhance your gameplay though is the ability to slow down the sensitivity of the analog stick for sniping with a push of a button. PC folks have had this for a while but now it’s coming to the console as well with this controller. Both versions will retail for $49.99 and should be ready when Black Ops rolls out as well.

It was funny to see GUNNAR Optiks on the table at Mad Catz since I just visited with them right before my appointment but Mad Catz is partnering up with GUNNAR and offering the Call of Duty: Black Ops OptiCOM Pro Gaming Glasses for $99.99. If you don’t know what GUNNAR Optiks are, they are glasses that help ease eye strain as well as offer improved vision when staring at displays such as computer monitors. The cool thing about the OptiCOM setup is that it will include a high quality headset that attaches to the arm of the gaming glasses. For the PlayStation 3, it’s a Bluetooth headset so it can easily work with your PlayStation 3 or even your cell phone. The Xbox 360 one will be wired and have to attach to the controller though. It’s a pretty cool looking setup and one that I’m very interested to see in how well it works. With the design of the headset, you can attach to any other GUNNAR Optiks or most ordinary glasses out there if you wish.

The mouse isn’t being left out here as Mad Catz has a Call of Duty: Black Ops PrecisionAIM Mouse & USB Dog Tag bundle for you PC folks. It’s a R.A.T. mouse so you know it’s highly customizable in various fashions and features a “twin eye” 5600 DPI laser so it’s accurate. The USB dog tags contain profiles that you can adjust. By plugging the USB dog tags in with the Precision AIM Mouse connected, it will automatically setup the buttons for you depending on the profile in the dog tag. If you take your mouse to other computers and want to easily setup your controlling preference, these dog tags accomplish the task. The Call of Duty: Black Ops PreciousAIM Mouse and USB Dog Tag bundle will retail for $99.99.

That does it for Call of Duty: Black Ops branded items. We quickly moved on to a few Rock Band 3 specific items and Mad Catz is the official developer of musical controllers for Rock Band 3.

For those that want to play pro-mode with the guitar, Mad Catz is offering the Wireless Fender Mustang Pro-Guitar Controller. With 102 buttons on the neck and six strings, you have a guitar controller that can play just like a real guitar. It’s sort of a bridge controller for those wanting to try a real guitar but would rather still mostly deal with buttons. There’s even a touch sensitive box that allows you to cut off notes. If you do want to use it as a real electric guitar, there’s a MIDI out port to let you plug it into an amp and rock away. The only thing I am worried about is the fact that with so many buttons on the Fender Mustang, there are a lot of failure points so we’ll see how well it holds up over time. It’ll be available for $149.99.

The keyboard is the new addition to Rock Band 3 and yes, Mad Catz has a wireless keyboard as well. It’s a two octave keyboard going from C3 to C5 and features velocity sensitive buttons so the harder you push, the louder the note will play. You can use it on a flat surface or strapped over your shoulder like a keytar and like the Mustang, the Rock Band 3 Wireless Keyboard Controller features a MIDI output so you can use it as an electronic keyboard as well. You can expect to spend $79.99 if you want to pick one up and there will be a stand sold separately for you to use the keyboard on.

Both instruments I mentioned will have native connectivity support for the Xbox 360 but PlayStation 3 versions will need to use a dongle.

If you already have a keyboard or drum set with a MIDI out, you can just pick up Mad Catz’s MIDI Pro-Adapter and plug it into the box allowing you to use the keyboard or drum set in Rock Band 3. All the console specific controllers are on the box including and overdrive button and it can attach to one’s self via a belt clip. This is pretty cool and I know a few folks who already have the two on hand so they don’t have to pick up brand new controllers if they don’t want to in order to play Rock Band 3. Just spend $39.99 and you’ll be able to use your current real instruments in the game.

So there’s my short but very informative visit with Mad Catz. They have some really cool things coming down the pipeline and while my visit was Rock Band 3 and Call of Duty: Black Ops heavy, their booth had plenty of other products on hand for uses as well.