(Pocket-lint) - The Moga Ace Power transforms your iPhone into a gaming controller so you can get the most out of analogue, off-screen controls for those many titles available in the app store.
Compatible with the iPhone 5, 5C, 5S and fifth-gen iPod Touch, the Moga is the first game controller for iOS 7 - made possible due to changes in the latest version of the Apple mobile OS.
If you’re a ken gamer then the ability to transform your phone into a more tuned gaming device sounds like an ideal solution. Priced at £80, is it a worthy investment compatible with enough games, and is it easy enough to use that you’ll want to carry it with you everywhere? We've been button-bashing like crazy to find out.
The Moga Ace Power looks like a stubby Xbox 360 controller without an Apple device mounted up: it features two analogue sticks, a d-pad, four buttons comprised of A-B-X-Y and a further four shoulder buttons.
You then slot your compatible iPhone or iPod Touch into the casing and it expands to receive your phone like a huge docking station. The Moga connects via the Lightning connector to not only deliver controls but also extra power: there’s a built-in battery so it will extend your device’s life as you play - or just double up as a handy charger on the go - which is handy for long flights.
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To slip your iPhone into the contraption you simply stretch out the controller you can lock the case into place to stop yourself erroneously opening it in a moment of frenzied gaming. The fit is snug because the final 10mm stretch is spring-loaded to ensure that iPhone or iPod Touch won’t come flying out. That’s why the shorter iPhone 4 won’t fit - that and the obvious difference in connectors.
The Moga controller also features a 3.5mm headphones jack and is charged via a micro USB cable - plug it into your computer and away you go. You can charge and play at the same time too. If you want to charge up via a wall socket it’s possible but worth pointing out that no power socket is included, just the cable.
The build quality could be better though. The plastic used feels cheap compared to something like an Xbox or PlayStation controller, and given the price we don’t see why it’s not a little more luxury.
Here’s the thing, and this is the case for all mobile controllers we’ve played with: at the moment there are only a handful of Moga-enabled games in the App Store, and this is likely to have a huge impact on whether the Moga interests you. That number is growing of course, but it's limited for now and depends on developers’ uptake.
Frustratingly Apple doesn't clearly list which games support the Moga, and Moga only highlights its favourites - around two dozen - although claims you should check the App store for more games. There's a lot of pot luck involved.
There are big titles available though. Majors you might have heard of include Call of Duty: Strike Team, Limbo, Dead Trigger 2, and Lego Lord of the Rings. If your game doesn't support the Moga then it's little more than an expensive and large case, but if it does then you get the benefit of getting a far better control system.
More games will be added in good time, too, with the new GTA promising Moga support - just don't expect it to work with all your favourite titles from day one.
At the controls
We tested the Moga with Limbo, Dead Trigger 2, and Lego Lord of the Rings. The options available to you vary depending on what the game has programmed in. Lord of the Rings only lets you use the d-pad to move around, for example, while Dead Trigger 2 takes full advantage of the analogue sticks - which makes for a far better game.
But that also highlights the biggest problem with the Moga Ace Power: consistency. It could improve over time based on what developers do, but then again it might not. It’s a bit of a gamble. Or, if you only want to play a handful of top-tier app games then it’s spot on for those needs.
When you do find a game that you enjoy and the controls are to your liking - you cannot, however, map them yourself - the controller makes a huge difference. We could actually enjoy first person shooters without our grubby mitts getting in the way.
The Moga Ace Power has masses of potential, but at the moment is restricted to a handful of games that may or may not appeal. That’s not the Moga’s fault, as such, and as developers get on board the device’s breadth can also expand.
There are a few minor niggles, such as the choice of plastic and inability to customise controls, but overall we are pleased with the performance and package delivered here. It makes gaming with those compatible titles on iPhone 5 that much better and we especially like the inclusion of the built-in battery so you can play for longer.