This is an ‘unedited before publication’ and extended version of the review I wrote for Todayonline sometime in April 2011. Articles published on Tech stuff are now displayed on their blog, so over time, older articles should be stored in their archive.
I’ve been playing Xbox since 2004 and I’ve tested a fair line-up of third party controllers. While the experience thus far has not been impressive, I was nevertheless excited about the Onza. After all, this is a product of Razer, a brand that many would vouch for its quality.
The differences between the Onza standard and the Tournament Edition is the non-slip rubberised surface, adjustable resistance analog sticks and backlighting on the face buttons. While both versions are wired, the Tournament edition sports a long braided cable with a safety trip feature found in standard Xbox controllers.
The safety trip feature is a simple and yet marvellous invention that is a necessity especially during house parties where your guests or kids tend to stray away and decides to parade in front of the TV. In the event that someone trips over the cable, the safety trip connector will be the first to disengage. What this means is it prevents the ‘accident’ from pulling the console off the table top headfirst onto the floor, causing damage to the console and the disc inside. Default Xbox360 console owners would be using the original wireless controllers but hardcore gamers know the importance of having steady flow and uninterrupted battery juice. You never know when that message to replace the battery pops up on screen when you’re in a middle of a critical situation virtually, such as scoring a goal in a soccer match, protecting the base against one last opponent or reaching the finish line of an intense race.
The first thing that impressed me when I held the Razer Onza Tournament Edition (ROTE) controller is how lighter it feels compared to the original wired controller. While it retains a similar design to the original Xbox360 controller, some parts of the ROTE appear sleeker and its smooth textured finish gives a nice feel to my grip.
The placements of the Xbox guide button, thumbsticks and face buttons remain as the original Xbox360 controller. You will notice that the Xbox guide button and face buttons are slightly less protruding and I believe this makes you a fraction of a second faster for button presses. Those who appreciate aesthetics will welcome the redesigned alphabets too.
The thumbsticks tops are a little recessed allowing your thumbs to rest on them, and reducing (greatly) the chance of slipping off (and affecting your moves in the game). The thumbsticks can be twisted to make the tension tight or loose, depending on your preference. This is useful if you feel the in-game control sensitivity settings are not good enough. Simply twist the heads clockwise to tighten and in reverse to loosen. Finding the right tension for different games may require some experiment, and the thumbsticks could serve you better if there are visible markers to track the number of clicks.
My first curiosity about the ROTE is the ‘Start’ and ‘Back’ buttons, which are shifted to a lower position such that it is now closer to the user. This is a curious move because it seems there is adequate space beside the Xbox Guide button. Maybe some decision somewhere forced the ROTE to make this change which I feel does not offer any advantage. It takes a while to get used to this and if you happen to play games that requires using the ‘Start’ and ‘Back’ buttons often, the ‘relearn curve’ will be much faster.
The directional pad is separated into four separate parts, assigned to left, right, up and down. While they are useful for games that require distinct presses, it is not something you should rely on for playing fighting games, when you have to execute semicircle or quarter presses. Perhaps this means a new product line from Razer on tournament joysticks, but that’s just my speculation.
I believe the main highlight of the ROTE is the Multi-Function Bumpers (MFB) over the standard pair that you would find in a standard Xbox360 controller. These additional left/right bumpers can be remapped with either of the standard face button (XYAB), right/left triggers, right/left stick presses as well as the “Start” and “Back” buttons. By default, the additional bumpers will perform just like the default bumpers below them.
– These MFBs may be useful in those games that require pressing the stick buttons to sprint/run.
– PS3 gamers who occasionally game on Xbox360 and are so used to pressing R1 and L1 on their dualshock controllers may prefer to map the triggers to these MFBs.
– If you find it too slow to move your thumb from the thumbstick to press Y or B, you can set them to the bumpers instead.
Be aware that these bumpers are placed too closed together, and in the heat of intense situations, you may end up pressing both. This happened frequently in my first few hours of using the controller, so I recommend playing single-player campaigns to get the hang of it before attempting to show your ‘skillz’ online. The last thing you want is to brag about our new purchase of the ROTE and then performing like a douchebag in the company of friends.
My suggestion to Razer – try slanting the double bumper buttons (so they look like alien eyes). It may result in lesser accidents.
If you have no problems adapting to the thinner trigger buttons of the ROTE, chances are it may save your life online. They seem to have a shorter draw distance, and this should mean a faster chance to fire that critical shot, and the extended design allows the finger to rest comfortably.
The ROTE works on PC as well, so Xbox360 gamers who wish to partake in gaming sessions with PC friends will find the ROTE a formidable tool. Bring this baby to a LAN PC gaming session and unleash your wrath! PC gamers who contemplate on playing on Xbox360 because of its slow movement feedback may just find the solution in the adjustable thumbsticks.
My only disappointment is the headset jack. It works well with the newer version of Xbox headsets but if you’re still using the original headset (pictured above) and love attaching the chatpad to the controller, then you’re probably not ready to wield the power of the ROTE.
The Razer Onza Tournament Edition is a powerful tool but like any pugilist and his weapon, mastery will only happen with dedication and commitment.
Do you agree/disagree? Post your opinion in the comments below.