Razer released the ‘Onza’ controller last year, it was one of the best and highest rated gaming controllers for the Xbox 360 at the time. It was designed to be precise and versatile enough for professional use, yet easy enough to configure for the casual market.
The Onza was an extremely popular controller when it was released, but the shape of the controller and the analog-stick calibration seemed to cause some professional associations to look elsewhere. Now Razer is improving the Onza with a new controller model called the ‘Razer Sabertooth Elite’, which is available now on their website.
A year later and Razer is ready to redeem those problems and has released the ‘Sabertooth Elite’. Since so many of the functions on the Onza were a hit with fans, it isn’t surprising to see a lot of the same features carry over to the new model. That being said, it’s an improvement on an epic scale from the original Onza. Min-Liang Tan, the Razer co-founder and CEO talked about the original model in a press release stating, “The Razer Onza Tournament Edition gave Xbox 360 gamers a competitive edge” he continued, “We’re now taking things a step further with the Razer Sabertooth, with its re-mappable multi-function buttons and OLED display, restructured with more control options than any other device, in a rugged design that doesn’t compromise comfort”.
If you are a multi-console owner than you will probably notice a lot of pieces from each standard controller being used in the Sabertooth Elite. It’s the best of each design, with six remappable buttons the controller offers a lot of flexibility. There are two buttons at each shoulder and two removable rocking switches at the bottom. The triggers are like the standard Xbox 360 controller, which really don’t need to be improved. The D-pad has four smaller and more separate buttons rather than the previous large pie-shaped D-pad on the Onza. PS3 players will be accustomed to this layout and I think it works much better.
The layout itself, which was a very important upgrade to the older Onza model, is fantastic and almost completely intuitive straight out of the box. That probably won’t be what people will be talking about though, the real eye-catching design is the OLED display. The OLED display on the Xbox 360 controller is a wonderful addition, and it works so well that I wouldn’t be surprised if Microsoft considers the design for the next console generation.
The screen allows the player to customize almost any feature that the controller has to offer. This includes all of the multifunction buttons, the analog sticks or the profiles that are saved on the device. You can save two profiles at a time. Now the multifunction controls can be adjusted, but they can also be remapped and replaced with any other controls. This is a terrific feature because the multifunction buttons are perfectly aligned with your fingertips. This means if a game doesn’t allow button mapping for a control I prefer, I can alter that multifunction button and set it myself using a simple replace. The screen offers a reminder of what is mapped as well, which is one of the most functional additions a control can offer, especially when you are working with more than one profile at a time.
All of the customization is terrific and the six buttons offer a lot of variety for the user. I can see why the option is there, to allow gamers the opportunity to place controls at any finger but I struggled to find a game that would actually use all six. I guess it’s better to have more than you need rather than not enough. Again, I think there are so many just to give player’s a choice for the button that they prefer.
A professional gamer will probably already have a standard preference for button mapping, a beginner might feel overwhelmed at the sheer number of options that this controller offers. If that is the case though, the 4 removable multifunction buttons could easily be taken off and you’re back to a more standard operating device. Though it will still offer more features than a standard controller even with those buttons removed.
Everything about the controller is an improvement over the Onza model. The buttons and analog sticks are far more responsive than the previous version and the buttons have a very definite click and release method. I think the improved D-pad will be a huge hit with fans, as will the OLED screen. The controller has an MSRP of $79.99 which could put it out of the casual gaming market for a while but the upgraded design and full features of the controller easily makes up for the price-point and PC gamers usually understand the value in paying more for such controllers.
I also wanted mention the “Step-Up Program” that Razer is offering. If you own a Razer Onza or Onza Tournament Edition gaming controller that you can get a discount on the purchase of the new Razer Sabertooth elite if you buy from the official store. According to Razer, “Owners will receive a discount code through email once they have verified the serial number of their Razer Onza or Onza Tournament Edition controllers”.