History of the Onza:

So it’s been nearly a year from the first announcement of Razer‘s entrance into the console gaming market with two new peripherals for Microsoft’s Xbox 360 console. At CES 2010, they announced (and had a working demo unit) of the Onza controller, and a 5.1 surround sound headset named the Chimera.

Both their products kept getting pushed back, and it wasn’t until January 2011 that they allowed pre-orders for the Onza (while the Chimera is still on hold). Razer did expand both lines a bit further to include two versions of each product. For the Onza, there’s a Tournament Edition with a few more features (adjustable tension sticks, braided cable, rubberized surface) than the Standard Edition. The Chimera was also expanded to have a 5.1 system over a 5.8Ghz band and a standard stereo system over 2.4Ghz.

There’s been much talk on the ASTRO Gaming Forums about the Onza with many members pre-ordering it. Let me also admit that I was planning to pre-order it as well, but it went out of stock on the Razer site so quickly (even for a pre-order) that I missed out entirely. Razer’s handling of shipping the item out a few weeks late added to the frustration of many customers online. Just this week, some of the members on the forum mentioned that BestBuy was getting them in stock. I checked the next day and was able to secure one at my local BestBuy.

Review:

Let me start this review by saying I am a former fan of Razer, using their Diamond Back mouse for a number of years for PC Gaming. Their company does listen to the gaming community or their representation of the community (which is always helpful to get things changed for future products).

The Razer Onza Tournament Edition is a good, maybe great controller, but could be better…

That’s a loaded sentence, so I’ll jump into things with their key features.

  • MultiFunction Buttons – The Onza has two programmable “MultiFunction Buttons” which can be programed to any face button (ABXY), shoulder button (RB,LB) or trigger. They’re found just infront of (towards your body) the regular shoulder buttons and can be programmed pretty easily by just holding down 1 of 2 program buttons, and clicking the button you want it to emulate.
  • Adjustable Tension Sticks – A TE exclusive, these allow you to turn a dial found right under the top of the stick to adjust between a very loose to a very rigid turning ability.
  • Hyperesponse Face Buttons – These work much like a mouse click would (tactile response).
  • Rubberized Surface
  • Wired Controller / 15′ Braided cable

One thing that I do have to note is the removal of a great feature they had when the Onza was first announced was a “sharply-lit edge” which produced a neon green glow around the controller (much like the TRON controllers).

Pros:

  • Shape/Feel – The overall feel and ergonomics of the controller work. The rubberized surface doesn’t enhance things too much, but the grip feels a bit more natural when using the Onza.
  • Tension Sticks – Great feature, which works well for shooters and especially driving games. It’s easy to change, though I wouldn’t recommend it while in a multiplayer battle. ;)
  • Hyperesponse Buttons – These things kick major ass. They should have been implemented by console companies long ago. The ability to rapidly click them is fantastic, and you can actually feel when the button is pressed (where with other controllers, it’s a spongy feel and you don’t know when it’s triggered). Best thing about the controller I’d say.
  • MFB – Placement of these are good, but take some getting used to. I really wanted these so I could use the “Tactical” controller settings in Call of Duty and still knife without removing my thumb from the aiming stick, but it takes a bit of adjusting to do learn this.
  • Quick Release Braided Cable – Right by the USB plug, there’s a “quick release” function that works if someone were to trip over your cable. Instead of your Xbox being pulled off your entertainment center and towards the floor, the cable has a breaking function which helps if you have kids or dogs that run by without looking where they’re going.

Cons:

  • Moved Select / Start – Ugh. Could just be adjustment time, but couldn’t they have left these where most gamers access them? I don’t know why these were moved towards the bottom end of the controller.
  • D-Pad – Their “Precision D-Pad for dead-on accuracy” is more of a miss. It has 4 independent buttons for U/D/L/R, but just doesn’t feel right when you use it. It’s fine for shooters where you seldom use the D-Pad, but still feels awkward when scrolling menus.
  • Microphone Jack – Unfortunately it looks like Razer has a few problems with their mic jack wiring. Whenever someone speaks over XBL, there’s a small “pop” sound when the person stops talking (when their signal ends). Wasn’t present on my standard MS Wireless controller. Ah well.
  • Xbox button – Probably the worst part of the controller is this. It’s a very cheaply made button that looks like a sticker with some clear plastic resin on top. If Razer wanted to maintain their quality image, I would highly recommend this to be changed. Imagine how nice a brushed aluminum with resin button would look!

Last things to note:

  • Some people on the ASTRO forums mentioned their dislike of the curvature of the triggers. I was fine with them (I actually like them, but I tend to pull towards the base of the trigger, instead of the end). I think if the trigger was angled a bit better it would allow for the middle finger to be used with a better feel, and the index finger to be used for the shoulder buttons.
  • I was able to use FPS Freeks with these, with a suggestion that I read online that if you rotate the tension sticks, there will be a small gap between the tension ring and the top to fit the FPS Freeks. (I’ll probably do a review of these as well, as they’re still working great!)
  • Another company that I’ve had some connections with at PAX East called N-Control is said to be working on a version of their Avenger controller add-on which will work with the Onza. I’m looking forward to this and will see what I can do to get a review unit.

The Razer Onza would be a good buy if you’re looking to get a replacement controller and are into strictly multiplayer FPS gaming. I wouldn’t recommend this at all for fighter games games with heavy use of the D-Pad. The other features they added really help to enhance the feel and usage of a controller in FPS gaming. There is just a bit of adjustment time to get used to this controller, but I’m confident that most gamers will have no problem with this adjustment.

Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars **** / *****

  • AcIdC0R3

    Hey Randall, nice review. At least I know what to expect when I get mine in. I don't know if I'll like it but if I don't I'll just add it to my useless gadgets drawer. LOL

    I like your website. It looks really professional like. :)

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    Randall Wong

    Randall Wong is an avid video gamer, aspiring musician, worship leader, photographer, and Web & Tech enthusiast. He loves ginger ale, first person shooters, and his wife, Joyce and their two beautiful daughters.

    He previously worked for ASTRO Gaming, the premiere video game equipment company as the Community Manager. He continues to work in the gaming industry as a Social Media and Marketing Consultant for various brands.

    This is a personal weblog. The opinions expressed here my own and not those of my employers.
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