Razer Reinvents, Perfects The Xbox 360 Controller

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 4.5m braided cable, a more-responsive directional pad and the ability to adjust the tension of the analogue sticks.

Before starting my gameplay with the controller I messed around with the pad's tension controls for the analogue 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 centre 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 $US50 controller.


Comments

    What's with the braided cable? there'd better be a wireless version.

    my 360's not even in the same room as my TV (mmmm... true silence, not even a fan hum) so for me to used a wired controller would mean running a usb extension cord out of the room, which I wont do no matter how good the pad is.

      They didn't release a wireless as this was M$ proprietary technology and it meant they would have to pay royalties to use the technology.

      A braided cable has fabric protecting the wires instead of plastic. My CM sentinal has one. It's thinner, stronger, and more flexible.

        I think he means more along the lines of, why is this not wireless.

        MS like francis said, hold the rights to the technology for wireless accessories for the 360. Therefore, you will need to pay royalties but also, acquire permission. Something i don't think MS would kindly give out.

        Hence why Mad Catz had a wired 360 MW2 controller and the PS3 wireless. Why the 360 has a throat communicator and the PS3, a wireless headset.

          the ps3 uses bluetooth for its controllers and headsets, which is different.

          Fighting games are the big one when it comes to d-pads.
          Growing up on the snes and megadrive dpads for streetfighter titles, I never switched to the analogue due to the lack of precision which some fighting games demand. Tekken feels bad on analogues and having the stick 5 degrees off can mean a completely different move. A bad dpad can be just as bad as analogues though. To date Sony definitely has the superior dpad.

          Oops was meant to be a reply to your 2nd post jay

            Hah! yeah i gathered.
            I never knew that about analogues though - I guess its not something one would realize. I don't play fighting games that often so its probably why the D-Pad thing hasn't affected me as yet.

            Still don't understand what it is about the PS controller though thats so much greater and the Xbox's that is crap. I have found though that when using the 360 Dpad it sometimes can press left instead of down if you don't press firmly and in the middle.

            @spiz the bluetooth has nothing to do with why PS3 got those wireless accessories.

    Brian, that is a sweet looking controller and it might be worth looking into. But what I really want is a xbox 360 controller for my ps3! Was there anything like that at CES? A PS360 controller? All other 3rd party controllers I've seen (rocketfish - shadow 6 etc) are all missing something or suck. Anyway just my early morning ramble after finishing night work at 6 :P

      I seem to remember one of the modders on the Ben Heck forums making on of those (Putting PS3 guts into a 360 controller shell)

        SAME! It looks really cool. But will set you back something like $400 which is not worth it. As evident of this article, a controller like that can be sold for $50 or perhaps close to the $100 in Australia.

        I just cant stand holding the PS3 controller. Maybe if it was slightly bigger or longer, then it might be easier to hold on to. But with its size, my main problem is holding it whilst using the analog sticks.

        It dazzles me as i grew up playing a Sega Megadrive - the controller was tiny. Then came the PS1 and PS2 and I could easily play it. Out came the Xbox and since then, i've always held the PS controller confused. It's chunkier and the analog sticks are in places that my hands feel comfortable.

        I do know that the D-Pad isn't that great but their are hardly any games i use it for. Gears of War comes to mind - but i'm not a heavy sport player and don't seem to use it as a primary function. SO what exactly are peoples problems with the D-Pad and how is the PS3's so much better wen they are 4 separate buttons?

        Also, is it possible for someone like Razer or Mad Catz to use the Xbox controllers design for a PS controller or would that be an infringement and therefore, only a modder thing?

      XCM Cross Battle adapter. It lets you plug a wired 360 controller into your PS3.

    I'm so sick of the 360's d-pad. Ken comes across as a headcase continually jumping around the stage instead of walking forward.

    I think the best test of a d-pad is the fighter. Sony have had it down for a few years now and I have always liked the dreamcast's too.

      I have evil memories of the Dreamcast's d-pad killing my thumb when I played Samba De Amigo. That thing was razor sharp!

    Where do we plug the headset in?

      I'm with Warcroft. I've recently DL'ed the All Fronts DLC for Gears 2 and need my mic. I usually drop out of games where no one has a mic

    Im with spoonie... where is the PS360 controller? can it really be that hard to create a copy of the 360 controller for the PS3?!?!?!?!?!?

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6a4nDKyEk3Y

    If it's got a proper D-pad, I'll buy two.

    I still prefer Playstation controller to Xbox. No change to 8 years ago. I like my analogs symmetrically distributed, so improving the dire X360 D-pad is less than half the battle. The Razer effort looks neat- altho 3 shoulder buttons- bumpers, triggers, whatever you want to call them- is getting a little much tho. Should I expect a pinky trigger anytime soon?

      Pinky finger buttons get modded in on the underside of the controller and are generally rapid fire buttons.

      I thought having the sticks evenly placed was a good thing for years, but after playing the 360 for a while I've come to realise that camera control low and buttons/movement control high works better (for my hands at least). I'll admit its mostly about familiarity, but even when I play my PS3 for long stretches I find I feel like I'm stretching for movement and getting less precise control as a result.
      The only time I miss having them level is when I'm using the two together to preform a single function (ie, two stick tank style driving).

    What kind of D-pad are we getting from this? I hope its not a floating one.

    All I want is the analogues of the 360 with the d-pad of the PS2/3. That would be the ultimate.

    And here is your PS360 controller, courtesy of Mad Catz:
    http://www.google.com/products/catalog?q=xbox+controller+for+ps3&ved=0CBsQrQQwAg&cid=7840402163876380578&sa=title#p

      Yeah that link led me to the DreamGear shadow controller. Which I think is the best out of a bad bunch. Does anyone here have/tested one? I'm not sure whether Mad Catz and dreamGear are affiliated with each other, but I cant find a ps360 controller with the mad catz label.

    Wireless or nothing.

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