I don’t know what I was expecting from the Razer Onza Tournament Edition. I knew that this particular edition would be beautiful and sport the seal of N7 approval, but I believe part of me was hoping for more than what it was. It’s comfortable, comes with two extra customizable shoulder buttons? It’s a really nice wired controller with a delicious touch of Mass Effect.
Unfortunately, that’s kind of where my fascination ends. That’s not to say this is a bad controller. No, quite the contrary. It just doesn’t reinvent the wheel, or even make the wheel much more exciting. But there are some great things about it. Great things, indeed. I was initially drawn to its dual nature as both an Xbox 360 and PC controller, though the latter held the true appeal for me. As a newcomer to the PC genre, I often face terrible motor skill difficulties that prevent me from acquiring many kills, or landing headshots. This is by no means a result of a debilitating disease, but merely a reflection of my hard-wiring as a console gamer. Like peanut butter and jelly, I believed a 360 controller and a PC would work together in beautiful harmony and I was not wrong. Yet when you tell me that a 360-bound controller is wired, I lose some enthusiasm. You might as well tell me that I’m about to get an awesome cell phone with the ability to mentally dial my friends, but it’s going to weigh three pounds and come with a five-inch long antenna that I will have to extend to ensure call quality. Also, it will have to be stapled to my forehead.
Well… that may be a bit of hyperbole, but it illustrates my emotions.
Plenty of peripherals are wired and I don’t give them a second thought, but when the controllers that came with my 360 years ago are wireless, I have a really hard time backtracking. It doesn’t matter how many programmable triggers it has or how many carrots it can dice, I just don’t want a wired controller when my wireless ones have been absolutely wonderful all this time. I don’t want to be tethered to my console, especially when I sit so far from it.
Moving on. I’m going to tell you about the set up. Here’s a hint: it’s ridiculously easy.
There’s no driver required and the box it comes in offers little more than the standard quick start guide and manual. It’s equipped with a quick release USB just in case you’re one of those people who yanks on their controller, or has dogs who stampede at random in front of the Xbox. It seems to be a whole lot of cable for a PC, though. I thought I had a coiled snake at my feet. The button placement takes the most getting used to. The start and back buttons are now located at the bottom of the controller and the two multi-function buttons are squeezed in just above the bumpers. These tripped me up quite a bit at first. You may be aiming for the bumper, but it’s incredibly easy to accidentally tap that MFB instead. Luckily, you can program them on the fly to just be another set of bumpers if you’re not in the mood to get creative. Not that there’s a huge opportunity for creativity. The Onza TE has a preset list of buttons for you to cycle through, it just depends on what’s most convenient for you. Switching between your options is very easy and can be done quickly. Downtime between a wave of multiplayer? Totally enough time to switch.
Oddly enough, not a single installment of the Mass Effect series offered controller support. Sure, you can still play all of them with the Onza on 360, but… I don’t know. My favorite aspect of the Onza TE is its PC compatibility, but only so much can be done when the list of controller compatible games is so short (and you’re not too keen about installing third party software to make it work). That’s by no means Razer’s fault. I do see the benefit of having these extra bumpers in Mass Effect 3 on 360, though. With all the powers you amass, keeping them in the trigger/bumper range may just be easier for those of you who like to keep a shotgun handy at all times. It’s great to have options, right?
I have to sing the Onza’s praises on PC, though, especially in the case of Fallout 3. I indulged in this blast from the past for hours with the Onza, and found it changed my experience for the better. Fallout 3 also happens to be the perfect example of a game with the controller compatibility I dreamed of. All I had to do was plug the Onza mid-game and everything paused. I was prompted to hit “ok” when a notice popped up telling me that my controller had been detected and accepted, all in Fallout text. The A button took over and I was back in the game. The whole process took maybe two seconds, not counting the time I wasted jamming it into my USB port. When it came time for me to whip up some console commands, all I had to do was unplug the controller and that menu returned, asking me to hit enter to proceed with this new peripheral. Seconds later and I was slapping my keyboard, summoning thousands of bullets and teddy bears from the sky as my multi-controller dreams came true. The biggest issue I faced was adjusting the drag of the right thumbstick, but it was just a matter of loosening it until I found a happy medium.
Super 360 fans will be disappointed to know that due to the Onza’s shape, it won’t support the chatpad. Any old headset will do just fine, though. Players with hyper-sensitive spider hands like me may take issue with the rubber screw covers on the underside of the controller, but you eventually forget about it once you focus on the four banshees coming to rip your uterus out with their giant tree claws. It takes getting used to, but it’s not a bad way to go.
For me, the Onza shines brightest on PC. It’ll do the job and offer you a few extra emergency buttons while you’re neck deep in Xbox game time, but nine times out of ten, I’d grab my wireless controller instead of the Onza. Those two MFBs just aren’t enticing enough to sway me. This is a really, really good controller and this particular edition is yet another subtly-branded piece of the Mass Effect fandom, but its success or failure depends on your priorities. Will you sacrifice wireless freedom and chat pad support in favor of two extra bumpers? Or will you stick to the standard cable-free experience and make do with the buttons you were conditioned to use? The choice is yours. I’m just not quite sure which one is renegade and which is paragon.
Here’s the Rundown:
+Subtle, yet awesome Mass Effect flair
+Customizable thumbsticks and extra, programmable shoulder buttons add control
+Works great on PC (with compatible games)
-Why go wired when there’s wireless everywhere?
-Mass Effect on PC has no controller support. Seems silly.
-No chat pad. B’awww…
8 and 8.5 represent a game that is a good experience overall. While there may be some issues that prevent it from being fantastic, these scores are for games or hardware that you feel would easily be worth a purchase.
The Mass Effect 3 Onza Tournament Edition was developed and manufactured by Razer and is available at the retail price of $59.99. The headset was provided to Stephanie by the manufacturer for the purposes of review. She spent most of her time playing Fallout 3 with it, and she acknowledges that that’s a little weird.
Stephanie Gutowski is the Features Editor at RipTen and is still recovering from Mass Effect 3. Follow her on Twitter @SigmaRue.