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Published on January 14th, 2011 | by Cameron Woolsey

CES-Razer Onza Hands-On Impressions

When most gamers think of Razer, they think of a PC game hardware company and glowing mice and keyboards with little pictures for their games. Even though they found a lot of success making gear for the hardcore PC gamer, Razer thought that they shouldn’t have to exclude their dear console friends either. Last year the Razer Onza was a big hit with some people who went to CES. Now, in it’s final form, I was able to check out the much sought after Onza and took it for a spin.

More beautiful than a double rainbow.

Now, my first concern over any peripheral is the comfort factor. Luckily the Razer Onza has that in spades. The controller has a rubberized surface which helps with the grip and is ergonomic and very comfortable with no abrasive edges.

As I used the Onza, the first thing I noticed that the analog sticks had adjustable wheels. I was told that by twisting them, you can adjust the force to the best setting for accurate aiming. As I was playing Black Ops, I found the right thumbstick to be too stiff so I twisted the dial until I found the right amount of force. So what is so good about this? Competitive gamers take note: imagine being able to completely adjust your sensitivity on the fly. Perhaps you want a faster aim when using your DMR in Halo: Reach but need less sensitivity after picking up a sniper rifle. With the Onza you can change your aiming speed to match whichever weapon you use so you will be accurate the first time, every time, without the need to enter a menu or find a sensitivity that is just “good enough.”

Above you may notice that Razer has decided to include two extra shoulder buttons. By holding a button down on the back of the pad, players can program those buttons to any other button on the pad. This can be a good thing for people who want to use a certain button layout but have a certain move, such as a melee button, on the face pad but don’t want to move their thumb to press it. It took me a few moments to get the button presses right. I was told that after a couple of days Razer’s play testers stopped having issues pressing the wrong buttons.

The back of the controller.

The face buttons are mechanical instead of using a rubber membrane. What the hell does that mean, you ask? It means that the buttons not only register a thumb press faster, but also provide an audible “click.” I noticed that pressing the buttons not took almost little effort and they felt much better than standard buttons which now feel stiff and clunky in comparison. These will be great for gamers who like to pull off fast moves in fighting games.

The d-pad….ah the d-pad. What can I say? I have always loved the original 360 controller save for one thing, the horrible d-pad. And I know I’m but one of few who feel the same way. Razer has heard the bitter cries and replaced the inaccurate d-pad of the original game pad with four separate directional buttons. Designing the controller with individual buttons was a smart move; the buttons create much more accurate movements and I was able to move around the d-pad with my thumb and felt little resistance. The will be perfect for XBLA games and fighters. I might finally be able to use the hotkeys in Oblivion without always drinking all my damn skooma before getting to my weapons. Nothing says “hero of legend” like a 6-foot barbarian high on 4 bottles of skooma and swinging an axe around in a busy marketplace.

There will be two versions of the Onza. The Tournament Edition, the one I play tested, will be priced out at $49.99 and have back-lighted buttons. The standard Onza will come cheaper at $39.99 but will not include the adjustable thumbsticks and will have a textured finish over a rubberized one.

So I guess you want to know my verdict? Putting it simply, the Razer Onza kicks ass.

It kicks more ass than a gang of ninjas strung out on speed wearing steel-toed boots at a donkey farm. And the ninjas are playing burning guitars. Made of bacon.

The only downside I can really admit is that the controller won’t be wireless and will have a 15 ft. cable (USB for use with the Xbox 360 or PC) but that’s not a real problem. The Onza is the kind of controller that could easily replace the standard Xbox 360 controller because it simply outperforms the standard controller in every way. But I have even more good news, the Onza will be released very soon and Razer will begin taking pre-orders January 17 at the Razer store.

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About the Author

Video game journalist since 2006, and gaming since he was old enough to use an Atari joystick. Follow me: @Cam_is_16bit

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