The second to last thing I was expecting to be writing about my visit to Razer's CES booth was an Xbox 360 controller. The last thing? That I like it more than Microsoft's version.
The Razer Onza includes two programmable bumpers, a 15-foot braided cable, a more-responsive directional pad and the ability to adjust the tension of the analog sticks.
Before starting my gameplay with the controller I messed around with the pad's tension controls for the analog sticks. Each stick includes a ring just below where your thumb rests that can be ratcheted in either direction to loosen or tighten the thumbpad's springs independently. The tweaking makes an enormous difference in how the stick feels allowing you to quickly and precisely adjust the feel of the pad's responsiveness game to game.
A Razer rep told me that considerable work was being put into the directional pad as well, because it is a chief complaint among Xbox 360 gamers. But the hand-built prototype I played with didn't include the new D-Pad.
Razer also moved the start and select buttons down to the more thumb-reachable bottom center of the controller and made both a bit wider and flatter.
The idea of a second set of bumpers that can be mapped to anything is a neat idea, but in practice it wasn't something I was able to immediately adjust to. They didn't get in the way, but it was a bit hard to remember which was which on the fly. I'm sure it is something I'd grow to appreciate over lengthy gameplay sessions, though.
After playing Halo ODST for a bit on the new controller I was impressed with how snappy the controls and buttons felt. I can see myself making this my go-to controller for shooters and the like, even with the need to plug in a cable.
No date has been announced for the $50 controller.