Ask any PC gamer about Razer accessories and the response will almost always be praise for the company's high-quality performance products. While Razer has previously remained strictly a manufacturer of PC components, 2011 is looking like a different story. With the introduction of items like the Xbox 360/PC headset Chimaera and now the Onza controller, it's clear Razer has ambitions outside of the PC gaming world.
The Razer Onza is a wired Xbox 360 controller that goes above and beyond Microsoft's standard offering. Why not make it wireless? Unfortunately this is something that Microsoft has a firm grip on, preventing third-party manufacturers from licensing such technology. This gripe aside--and it is certainly not the fault of Razer--the Onza performs solidly.
Of course, there wasn't a whole lot wrong with Microsoft's original Xbox 360 controller save for the awful directional-pad disc that was eventually addressed in last year's Xbox 360 controller with transforming D-pad.
The Razer Onza comes in two varieties, the standard ($40) and Tournament Edition ($50), the latter of which is reviewed here. The Tournament Edition gives you adjustable tension analog sticks, light-up face buttons, a braided cord, and a rubberized finish as opposed to a textured one. We'll discuss those features more in just a bit--but, needless to say, we think it's worth the extra $10 to upgrade.
The Onza Tournament Edition has a slick black rubberized coating that feels great in the hand. It's marginally bigger than the standard wireless Xbox 360 controller, but it's nothing jarring. The button layout resembles what Xbox 360 owners are used to, save for the back and start buttons getting moved to the bottom of the controller.
The Onza's D-pad is certainly a departure from what we're used to; but while we like it better than Microsoft's, it still has its faults. The Onza's D-pad consists of four separate directional buttons that require more effort to press than a conventional D-pad demands.
For example, when we used the Onza during our trials of Marvel vs. Capcom 3, we found the D-pad didn't allow for the quick, swift multidirectional gestures that fighting games require. Instead, we were left with clunky performance that really soured the experience. That said, we found the D-pad to work well in games where the pad is used as a weapon-selection tool.