I generally haven’t had much luck with third party remote controllers. I’ve bought a few for my Playstation 3, mostly because I can’t stand the triggers, but none of them have really worked out and I always end up back with the Dual Shock. On the Xbox side of things, I’ve always been content with with the controllers that Microsoft puts out, so I haven’t really strayed from the path. Then I played Battlefield 3. There has really only been one thing in particular about the game that prompted me to consider other controller options, but that one thing has been significant enough that I find myself here today as the owner of the new Razer Sabertooth.
The Razer Sabertooth was unveiled a little over a month ago at CES 2013 in Las Vegas, and it is basically a beefed up version of the Razer Onza. I almost bought the Battlefield 3 version of the Onza, but I had heard from a few people that it had some issues, so I ended up passing. When Battlefield 3 was launched, I knew I would be getting a new controller with the R2D2 Edition Xbox 360 I had pre-ordered, so it made sense. I really didn’t need a new controller now, either, but there was something about this one that really demanded my attention. There are six extra buttons on the Sabertooth that can be mapped out to match other buttons on the controller. One aspect of Battlefield 3 that drives me nuts is that pushing the right analog stick inward causes you to go prone. There have been so many times where I have found myself mano-a-mano with someone and it should all come down to fast twitch skills and a steady gun and I end up losing because my oafish right thumb mashes in on the analog stick and I cause myself to go prone. There are no drop shots in Battlefield, so going prone ends up causing you to lose most gun fights in this situation.
With two mapable buttons next to the L/R1 and L/R2 buttons and two other mapable trigger style buttons on the bottom of the controller, I thought it would be possible to remap the pushing in of the right analog stick to another button and, well, there is, and as a result, I am finally able to tea-bag properly without looking like I am fish flopping around dry humping the ground. Unfortunately for me, simply remapping the button does not disable the button, so even though I can press what is essentially the L3 button to go to a knee and/or go prone, the same still happens when I mash in the analog stick. The good news, though, is that I can adjust the sensitivity of the analog stick and so far, I haven’t found myself running into those situations very often. I was also able to use the other mapable buttons so that I basically don’t need to use the D-Pad at all. In that regard, the Razer Sabertooth has been a big win.
The controller is very comfortable to hold. It has a rubbery feel to it and is very soft and sturdy. The main triggers and bumpers are very solid and all of the buttons are very responsive. The D-Pad is much improved over the Onza and looks a little bit like the D-Pad on a dual shock. The bottom triggers are set up so that you can map two button presses to each side and are completely removable. The A B X Y buttons light up and when gaming in the dark, really looks awesome. I know something like that isn’t really a big deal and is purely aesthetic , but I do like the way it looks none-the-less. The controller comes with two rubber grips for the analog sticks. They are green and really help my thumbs keep a grip on the two analogs. They also add to the aesthetics of the controller and make it look pretty cool.
All of the button mapping can be done right on the controller. There is a small LED display and two buttons roughly the size of the start and back buttons to the left and right of the LED and following a certain sequence of button presses will allow you to map the extra buttons to your choosing. There are two profiles on the remote, so for me, I have profile 1 set up as my Battlefield profile, and profile 2 set to be the default remote set up. When not programming or choosing a profile, the LED displays a green Razer logo and looks pretty cool.
One aspect of the remote that may be a downside to some people is that you do have to be tethered to your console. The remote has a removable power chord that can be stored easily when not using the remote, but has to be connected in order for the remote to work. The wire has a rope feel to it and allows for the wire to be very well protected. There is a proprietary connection into the remote that pops in and out, and once it is in place, there is a screw mechanism that allows you to secure it to the controller. There is no battery pack, so you do have to have this wired in to the console. This may be a deal breaker for some. It’s no big deal to me, as I actually prefer to not have to worry about buying batteries or making sure I am charged up. There is also no latency whatsoever that I can tell because you are hard wired in.
The controller also comes with a carrying case, making transporting the remote really easy. The case has pouches that you can store extra pieces in, like the screw driver that allows you to remove the bottom triggers if you don’t want them. That’s what I have done for the time being. I’m not using them and since I can take them out, I have. There are little rubber pieces that fill the grooves of where the triggers are removed, but they don’t stay in place very well, nor do they line up flush with the controller. That may be my absolute only complaint about the controller.
I’ve spent the last two days playing a lot of Battlefield 3, Mass Effect 3 and Aliens: Colonial Marines and I have to say, I am extremely impressed so far. It’s going to take a little while to break it in and be comfortable with it, but even though it doesn’t do exactly what I wanted it to, I am still really happy I made the purchase. The remote retails for $79.99 and is currently available through Razer’s website. If you’re in the market for a new controller or the idea of being able to map out the buttons the way you want them is something that interests you, it comes with high recommendations from me. Below you will find a few pictures of the controller, as well as two videos. The first video is a pure unboxing that also shows me very awkwardly trying to play Mass Effect 3 while I use the controller for the first time. The second video is an addendum in which I show you how to map out the controller, as well as talk about a few things that I was starting not to like about the controller as I figured it out a little bit more.
All in all, this was a fantastic purchase and I would give it a 9/10 easily. If I was actually given the ability to disable buttons that I mapped elsewhere, it would be an easy 10/10. With the new Xbox due out later this year, there is a slight chance this controller may be obsolete very soon, but the good news is it can still be used on a PC if you would like. I’ll definitely be using it there, too.