Some would argue that the Xbox 360 controller is the best controller. Ever. But nothing's perfect, not even the Xbox 360 controller. There's gotta be a way to improve it, make it better. Turns out, there is.
This is the Razer Onza Tournament Edition, a higher end version of Razer's Onza Xbox 360 controllers, complete with a rubberized coating, backlit buttons and thumbsticks that have adjustable tension. The Tournament Edition Onza also has a braided cable, and who doesn't like braids?
The Razer Onza is a wired controller, so players will need to plug it into their Xbox 360s for it to work. Once plugged in, players can remap buttons using the multi-function buttons above the shoulder buttons. The remap buttons are on the controller's underside; there is a right remap button for the buttons on the controller's right side and a left remap button for the buttons on the left side. To remap, players hold down the remap button and select the button they'd like to remap to the multi-function buttons. Besides remapping, players can tighten or loosen the thumbstick tension - righty, tighty, lefty, loosey. Beware, it is possible to overtighten and damage the controller.
For those who do not own an Xbox 360, it is possible to use the Razer Onza Tournament Edition with PCs. Simply download some drivers, and you're good to go.
What We Liked
Feels So Nice: The rubberized coating is one part of the ergonomics equation that the Onza gets so right. More and more peripheral makers are using it in third party controllers, and it's a welcomed addition. But what I liked the best about how it feels is simply how it fits. The shape of the controller is slightly different from the standard Xbox 360 controller in that Razer has shaved off some of the controller's underside, giving it more of an arch and making it less "fat". The controller feels more angular in the hand, but it's in snug while being gripped. Forget all the bells and whistles, the controller's basic shape is the real draw here. But those rubberized thumbstick tops? Nice touch. Literally.
Mapped Out: I'm not a big fan of mappable buttons - probably for the same reason that I'm not into aftermarket car customization. Deep down, I feel games should be played as they were originally designed. Changing the control schemes changes the intentions, and for that I reason I generally don't remap. But, I quite like that there is the freedom to do that. This controller gives players the option to play the game as intended or however they pleasure. That's great.
D-Pad: The d-pad on the original Xbox 360 controller isn't so hot - it's the controller feet of clay. Instead of a single piece of plastic, the Razer Onza has four individual buttons for the d-pad. While you probably won't want to use this in a fighting game, it is a significant step up for the d-pad on the Xbox 360 platform and a more than welcome addition.
Bang Bang: I think the longer triggers are going to be a matter of personal preference. Some people will hate them, others will like them. I like them.
Pressing My Buttons: The Razer Onza buttons are quick. They make a crisp clicking sound, and they are incredibly responsive. They just feel better put together than the standard Xbox 360 controller. The fact that they are low profile also helps with their responsiveness. It never feels like you pushing down on a fat, hard plastic mound.
Light Me Up Like gnats, I'm a sucker for glowing lights. I dig 'em. Also, speaking of light (see what I did there), the controller isn't heavy, due to the fact that it doesn't run on batteries like the Xbox 360 controller. Batteries add extra weight.
What We Didn't Like
Jacked Up The mic jack is perfect for third party headsets. However, the Xbox 360 headsets with extra prongs or even the Xbox 360 Chat Pad won't work. That could be viewed as a design flaw if you plan on using this controller.
Hey, Why'd You Change Stuff: The Start and Select (here "Back") buttons are in a different location. I'm not sure why. It makes the controller less instinctive. Another tweak are the two shoulder buttons. The top shoulder button is the programmable map button, which caused some getting used to. I kept hitting that, thinking it was the shoulder button. Perhaps putting it as the button shoulder button would have been better?
Wired: I have little kids, they trip on cords. As nice as the braided cord is, wireless, please, wireless.
The Bottom Line
The Razer Onza Tournament Edition is a fine second controller for the Xbox 360. It's so good that it even makes sense as a regular controller. Razer did a fine job of addressing shortcomings in the regular Xbox 360 and attempting to offer fixes. This controller isn't perfect, and no doubt Razer will continue tweaking it and updating it. Until then, it's as good as we've got.
The Razer Onza Tournament Edition was manufactured by Razer for the Xbox 360, released earlier this year. Retails for $49.99. A unit was given to us by the manufacturer for review purposes.