In addition to checking out the Mad Catz Micro C.T.RL.i controller, we got a chance to do some hands-on time with the larger C.T.R.L.i from Mad Catz. Like the smaller model, this peripheral is made for iPods, iPads and iPhones (5 and newer) sporting iOS 7 or later. However, unlike the smaller model, this version isn’t meant for gaming on-the-go, but for couch gaming in the living room.
As with the "Micro" version, this controller provides a clip that can be attached to the back of the peripheral. This cradles the iPod or iPhone so that gamers can keep both hands on the controller. To attach this clip, users simply unscrew a knob, slip the clip into place, and screw the knob back in, thus securing the clip against the controller’s back.
Honestly, this knob-based method should have been repeated on the "Micro" version. Instead, the smaller controller has a notch that the clip slides onto, only you have to exert some force to get it snapped into place. I felt uneasy about pushing and pulling on this clip; it’s possible owners might break either piece if too much force is applied.
Luckily, we don’t have that situation with the C.T.R.L.i model. However, I would have liked to have seen Mad Catz follow MOGA’s lead and provide the clip as a built-in arm. As a reference, I have the MOGA Pro controller for Android, which features an arm that raises up and lays down flush against the shiny top of the controller when not in use. I can simply raise the arm when I’m ready to play, and close the arm when I’m done.
In addition to the arm, the MOGA controller has a rubbery texture on the grips, which makes the controller feel more secure in my hands. That’s not the case with the Mad Catz solution. As I previously stated, the top of the controller features a shiny, glossy finish whereas the bottom provides a soft, brushed finish. This latter texture is needed to completely cover both grips on the C.T.R.L.i so that the device doesn’t slip out of sweaty or oily hands.
Setting up the controller is rather easy. Simply press the Bluetooth button on the controller (located in front of the clip) and turn on Bluetooth on the iPod, iPad or iPhone. Once the controller is paired with the iOS device, a message will pop up suggesting that users download a special app. This app is rather neat, frankly, showing the controller’s battery level, the firmware version, and the status of each button and thumb stick in real time.
The C.T.R.L.i consists of a thumbstick, a D-Pad, a shoulder button and a trigger button on the left. On the right you have the traditional ABXY buttons (which have huge letters), a thumbstick, a shoulder button and a trigger button. The power switch is towards the front (between the grips) and the pause button is just below the Bluetooth button in the center.
This Mad Catz controller measures just under 6 inches wide, 5 inches high and nearly 2 inches tall. The device is surprisingly lightweight, even with the iPhone locked in. The whole setup doesn’t feel top heavy either, nor does the controller tip over when it’s placed on a flat surface. Again, the setup feels comfortable in my hands; there’s no pull due to the phone’s added weight.
As for what games are compatible with the controller, a list is located on the Mad Catz website and within the iOS app under the "Gamesmart" tab. This is the same list provided for the Micro version, and it includes Bioshock, Monster Hunter Freedom Unite, Neon Shadow, Ms PAC-MAN, LEGO The Lord of the Rings, Grand Theft Auto San Andreas, Dead Trigger 2, and many more.
Ultimately, I really liked this controller. Although I wanted to see a folding arm attached to the device, the clip offered on the C.T.R.L.i is better than the one provided on the Micro version. There’s still a chance the clip can be broken, but it seems sturdier and more reliable than what the Micro model offers. This version really isn’t meant to be portable anyway, so users can keep the clip connected when playing on an iPad or HDTV.
So with all that said, this controller deserves a thumbs up. If you’re a heavy duty iOS gamer, you need at least one of these controllers. As I previously said, the Micro is best for on-the-go scenarios while this version is ideal for the living room.
UPDATE: I changed the part about the games list in the iOS app, as they're provided under the Gamesmart section, which wasn't working for me at the time of the initial post.
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