(Final article, we had a mishap with the draft that was leaked out! So I bring to you without further wait, the final verdict on the Xbox 360’s Razer Onza TE Controller! -Eric )
It’s a no brainier to even the most casual gamer out there, that 3rd party gaming peripherals have carried a generally negative stigma about them.
Ranging from the obscure to the almost obtuse, companies like Madcatz, Pelican, Joyplus, Turtle Beach, Mattel and many many more have pumped out a seemingly never ending mountain of plastic disasters since the dawn of console gaming.
Ranging from the biggest failures in gaming history such as the NES Rock N Roller all the way to the infamous Powerglove, there has never been a shortage even in today’s market of bad 3rd party gaming periphals that have stuffed local store shelves sitting next to offically licensed products that hold a higher price tag than their cheap breathern.
To the average consumer they base their purchasing decision of function and price so to most un-aware consumers. They walk into a local store and are in the market for a new controller, and while survaying their options they look at an Xbox 360 Offically Licensed product sitting next to a “No Name” brand product that is half the price but boast a verray of additional features to trick the unaware consumer that it’s clearly the better buy.
So being the glrious spure of the moment shoppers that us, Americans are, we go for the cheaper more “feature rich” model thinking we’ve truly scored a fantastic deal.
After all, why spend $60 on a controller when you can spend $30 on one that has fans to keep your hands cool too?
For most people the reality of their choice begins to sink in when they get home and plug in their shiny new device, grinning with joy at the bundle of money the just saved, they pop in their favorite game and begin to play…
But wait…does the controller feel uncomfortable? Maybe…does that special feature that you “had” to have on the controller…well…you actually use it once and realize that you’ll never use it again?
How about this, you found yourself playing better with the orignal device simply because it was much more percise, comfortable, and built around a generally better build quality.
Or even for some, you gave this gift to a younger brother or sister, maybe in your own child only to realize that the fancy new item you bought them, broke within a couple of day’s, leaving you out of $30 and with one angry child.
This ladies and gentlemen, is the well known cycle of what I so kindly call “3rd party BULLSHIT” and it doesn’t take a electronics connoisseur to figure out that the item they bought was cheaper for a reason because in the end, what you pay is what you get.
It has been a cruel cycle for over the better part of a decade and has left a sour taste in gamers mouths for ages, once in a while a good device may slip through the cracks but the majority rule is that….3RD PARTY ACCESSORIES SUCK!
As novel as generations past gaming accessories have become, for the past 10 years we have seen an array of uninspired, cheap, broken and down right tasteless items that have (and still are) been pumped through the market like an uncontrollable diesese that is wreaking havoc on it’s host until it simply succumbs.
In more recent times there has been some like at the end of the tunnel, companies like Madcatz have focused on their gaming headset line with the Tritton Series and new companies like Turtle Beach have made their way into the sea of the unknown while managing to build a sizable capital all the while building a strong repore with the gaming community at large.
But in 1998 a man named Min-Lang Tan had the creative mindsight of breaking the mold that many companies had tried to do before but never succeeded.
He and Robert Krakoff had formed a small company called, Razer USA.
They started off mainly as a small private company that developed gaming periphals for the PC, starting with the release of the cleverly titled, Boomslang 1000/2000 which at the time used a mechincal ball and featured ambidextrious features allowing people that preferdded left hand gaming, play left and right play right.
It was a small step for what was to one day be a large company and even after the decently sucessful lunch of the Boomslang, Razer failed to release a new product until 2003.
Since then, Razer has prided themselves for being a company that is all about quality and consumer understanding as they use the line “FOR GAMERS, BY GAMERS” with most of their marketing.
With 2007 seeing the Anniversary release of their founding design the Boomslang Collectors Edition, Razer had begun to take off in the gaming industry and it can be easily said that Razer holds a strong share of the gaming periphal market for the PC.
Most PC gamers respect the company as it’s be known for it’s strong build quality, innovation and quality control.
The Razer Onza TE controller boast an impressive suite of features that actually work, from adjustable analog sticks to shoulder buttons that can be re-mapped to your liking, the Razer Onza TE is honestly one of the best 3rd party devices that I’ve ever laid my hands on.
At first glance you’ll notice that the package presents a more elegant visual impact on your senses as Razer has always prided themselves with not only build quality but presentation too.
Out of the box the Onza comes with the usual (that have become an uncommon thing in the electronic field) which is basic manuals, certificate of authentication, Razer stickers and some other odds and ends.
Once you put the Onza TE in your hands you’ll notice immediately that it weighs significantly less than your normal Xbox 360 controller, though it’s also rather alarming that the controller itself is actually wired and not wireless.
Now Razer defends this by saying that having a wired controller provides more precise movements and an increased accuracy with reaction time between the controller and the xbox.
Some other features are that of the kind such as “hyper sensitive” buttons, this may sound like a complete gimmick at first but let me assure you that there is an actual difference and you’ll feel it the very second you press one of the “A,B,X,Y” buttons as they require half the amount of distance to make a connection with the controller.
Where the Xbox 360’s Microsoft branded controller’s buttons feel smooth with little to no “click” that lets you know that you’ve actually pressed a button done, the Onza TE provides an oddly satisfying “click” that is loud enough to be heard when listening but quiet enough to not bother or interrupt your gaming session regardless of what volume your TV is set at.
At first I was skeptical about the face buttons on the controller, but after putting a good 20+ hours into the controller I eventually asked myself “how the hell did I put up with the xbox controller for so long?” As you’ll notice an immediate change in core performance when it comes down to competitive gaming as you’ll experience a much better response time between the controller and system.
The sheer fact that the buttons take half the amount of time to press down means that when you’re in those intense fire fights choices that you make can be decided in a fraction of a second and with the Razer Onza and it’s hyper sensitive buttons, it will clearly give you the advantage in terms of response time.
Another note worthy option is the choice to adjust the firmness of each analog stick.
Now, this sounds like nothing to most of you, right? “Well what the hell would I care about when it comes to my analog sticks?” but my friend, the proof is with in the pudding and I say that with much honesty.
Some game simply feel and play better with a looser setting on the analog sticks and some games benefit from a much stiffer analog stick, mainly FPS’s or racers.
But I found my self keeping the left analog stick nice and tight and keeping my right loose, which gave me a mimic’d feeling of weight with my character but the ability to quickly look around when needed…an excellent combination for games like, Skyrim.
So rather it’s a simple twist to the left or the right, you’ll always have complete control with how you experience you games and how you want them to move and with hyper response buttons you’ll never have to worry about the other guy getting you first as you will clearly have the advantage of speed on your side.
Now let’s move onto to one of the most important features of the controller, re-mappable buttons.
You’ll notice right away that along with the much longer and correctly curved left and right trigger on the controller that above your LB and RB buttons are an extra button on each side, these are your brand new (and lovely) re-mappable buttons.
Oddly placed at first impression but as with a fine wine or a good IPA beer, it’s a required taste but eventually you’ll learn to love it.
I found myself re-mapping my reload button which would normally be “X” for games like Call Of Duty to my right shoulder re-mappable button.
Which made it much easier to do a quick reload and did not require me to left my right them from the analog stick to simply reload, which in returns means full control of your character during major times of need.
I also found myself doing this for games like LA Noire, re-mapping my reload button and my map button to my left and right re-mappable buttons, which made my playing experience an overall better experience.
It’s to also be noted that the Onza TE has a beautiful design that contours to your hands so perfectly that picking up an Xbox 360 Microsoft controller feels foreign after using the Onza TE over time.
You’ll find yourself constantly going back to the Onza simply because of the way it feels in your hands, it just feels GOOD…no other way to put it.
However with every good there must be bad and the Onza TE certainly does have it faults.
With the first look of the controller you’ll notice that the Start and Back (select) buttons have been moved to the bottom of the controller instead of the top where they once were.
At first this becomes quickly frustrating as you’ll find yourself instinctively reaching to press either button and realizing that it’s not there.
At first I was highly annoyed by this but then I begun to adjust to the new changes and while they aren’t my favorite they are manageable over time.
But regardless this is perhaps my main gripe, not the fact that it’s wired but the fact that the start and back buttons have been moved into an awkward position on the controller.
You would think for a company who built this controller with the mindset of a more comfortable, customized and precise gaming experience that they would have understood that moving the start and back buttons so far out of reach that you will litteraly find yourself reaching OVER with your thumb to press them, that it was an overall bad design choice.
However it’s a bowl of mixed fruit when it comes to the final aspect of the controller which is two things, the d-pad and the advantage and disadvantage of wired controllers.
Razer provides you with a generous 15ft of braided cable that plugs into your console via USB, along with a break away attachment in case you have any frisky critters or children running amuk in your gaming space, that will surely provide safety in the sense that your console won’t go down when your controller goes down.
Lastly, the D-PAD…this has been a large subject of concern for various gamers out there and while some feel that it’s a blessing in disguise others feel like it’s a burden of design.
I’ve heard from fighting fans that the D-PAD is a must and within the same crowd i’ve heard that the D-PAD is a nightmare, providing a fantastic sense of direction but little sense of feel.
Trying Street Fighter 4 with the D-PAD I can say that it reminds me of the Sega Saturns D-PAD mostly and which i’ll gladly say that if you were a fan of that d-pad, you’ll be a fan of this d-pad.
But for gamers who are looking for a more spot on feel to Microsofts adjustable d-pad that was recently released, you may be disappointed with the Onza TE’s d-pad.
It’s not that it’s un-responsive or even clunky, it’s just that it feels very “last generation” in the form of it’s design.
Instead of a plus shaped pad you receive one that is more or less a circle with simple cuts to separate which one is “up, down, left and right” and this could cause some confusion to users who depend on their d-pad in times of need.
If they hadn’t made these two moves than I would feel confident in saying that this controller is an absolute MUST have for ANY gamer out there but this minor gripe may spoil the over all experience for some people so with that said I can not wish this as highly as I would like to because in order to give a perfect score, an item must be perfect and the Razer Onza TE isn’t perfect…but it’s damn close to perfection and ringing an at $50 USD, you really can’t go wrong if you’re looking to upgrade or replace an existing Xbox 360 controller.
Do you need it? Of course not.
But should you get it? Well that in itself is of course, up to you.
Ask yourself, do you want an overall better gaming, more precise and enjoyable experience with the way you play games?
If you said yes then the Razer Onza TE controller is without a doubt for you but if you really don’t mind all the excess features and can’t stand non-wireless controllers then the Onza TE might not be your thing.
But when it comes to style, performance, build quality and features…Razer has officially hit it out of the park when it comes to this controller and it is to be said that Microsoft needs to take a page from Razers book when development for the Xbox 720 starts as Razer is the first 3rd party manufacturer to make a reliable and solid 3rd party controller.
The Final Verdict!
I base my reviews off of various factors and while most reviewers simply give a 1-5 or 1-10, I like to break down things by individual category so you can see for yourself what each aspect of the device is all about, instead of wondering what aspect of the device is lacking and what is not.
Since this is my first review, allow me to break down each section briefly and exactly what they mean.
Build Quality, this is the over all structure and dependability of the device.
Ranging from durability, choice in materials and how they stack up all together.
Packaging, this is pretty self explanatory…it’s about the package that the device comes in!
Because I am a firm believer that a package sells the product before the product sells itself and with that I take into what materials, design, appeal and work goes into the over all packaging.
Comfort, another self explanatory category here…simply put, does it feel nice? How does it contour your hands, head, etc? Is it adjustable to your needs? And could you spend hours with this product without feeling fatigued?
Function, i’ll take a line from the band H2O here and say “fashion before passion” or in simple terms, fashion before function.
Does it do exactly what it was intended to do? Does it go above and beyond general conception? Lastly, does the product live up to it’s claims without watering down any features?
Design, in an ironic twist, design is about the general appearance of the device because no one wants to look at something that looks ugly, regardless of how well it works sometimes.
Performance, almost in the same league as function but not totally, performance has to do with build execution…does it live up to it’s own hype?
Does it actually go above and beyond it’s competitors and set itself apart from the crowd?
It’s like going to see an Ed Wood movie after just seeing the original Star Wars for the first time, the actors in the movie just didn’t pull it off the way you had hoped.
Features, a product rich in features isn’t always a good thing and this is a category that you’ll find out is a hard one to compete in.
In an era of innovation it’s always important to invite people into that innovation and listen to their concerns, hopes and dreams about your product.
Has this company listened to the public? Did they do exactly what they say they were going to do? And did it work exactly like it was suppose to?
General Appeal, not every product on the market has the appeal to the average consumer like the Nintendo Wii has and with this, does this product appeal to the average consumer? More said, does this product have mainstream use or is it a strict niche audience product? Should the basic person use this or does it take a electronic genius to figure it out?
-Build Quality 9.5
-General Appeal 7.5
Overall Score: 9.0 (Go buy it!)