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Updated: July 3, 2013 20:10 IST

Unlevel the playing field

Videep Vijay Kumar
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Razer Sabertooth
Razer Sabertooth

Razer's Sabertooth controller improves on the Onza in a variety of ways

Gaming peripheral manufacturer Razer has taken a page or two out of its “lessons learned” manual from its Onza experience, its previous foray into game controllers. The Onza received a flurry of positive reviews at launch, but it wasn't until a few months that issues would crop up — mostly having to do with durability and build quality under heavy use. Thankfully, the warranty/replacement system Razer had in place was pretty good, but with the PC and Xbox 360-compatible Sabertooth, it aims to eliminate the need for this with what at first glance seem like better parts and a more robust build — resulting in its heftier price tag of 6,499. But only time will tell if the Sabertooth is, indeed, capable of enduring more punishment than the Onza, or the stock Xbox 360 controller for that matter. But one thing is for sure: pick the Sabertooth up, and it will instantly feel like an infinitely superior input device in your hands to either of those two.

There are an additional six buttons which Razer describes as “multi-function” in nature, including two particularly well-placed triggers in between the stock left and right bumpers and triggers. All of these additional buttons can be configured to perform the function of any of the others on the controller — I personally found a lot of use for the triggers (“M1” and “M2”), swapping the right-bumper function to one of them in FIFA 13 for easier access to the “second player press” and “finesse shot modifier” buttons in-game. In Remember Me, which I entirely played with the Sabertooth, I found use for the rocking switches at the back of the controller (I programmed “M3” and M5” to perform the functions of “X” and “Y”) — the idea of having quick access to four button functions at your fingertips is pretty innovative, but I was not able to take full advantage of them on more than a couple of occasions. The adjustable sensitivity of the analog sticks is a blessing for gamers who play a lot of shooters or racing games — the controller seemed like the ideal companion for the former. The D-Pad has also undergone an overhaul since the Onza — it is a new beast entirely. After a couple of hours with Super Street Fighter IV Arcade Edition (PC) and Injustice: Gods Among Us (Xbox 360), I can tell you that it is very well-suited to games of the genre as well, enabling precise directional movement and execution of special abilities. Back-lighting for face buttons can be toggled, letting you game in pitch darkness when required.

PC gamers will benefit from the fact that all of this is possible without the additional need for software to be installed. The controller is plug-and-play, with an intuitive interface, integrated OLED screen, on-board memory and quick accessibility. On the Xbox 360, however, the Razer Sabertooth is quite the game changer, allowing more freedom to customise and remap button functions to suit the player, given that a lot of games don't allow complete button remapping. The controller allows you to store two sets of custom settings in the same number of profiles for easy access on the go. Mobility seems to be something Razer has focussed on with the Sabertooth, which also sports a braided cable that can be detached when the controller is not in use, and a carrying case with enough storage space for the controller, spare rocking switches and the mini-tool required to instal them.

Overall, there's something here for any kind of gamer, and while the general gaming public might frown upon the Sabertooth's pricing, its target audience will see value in paying that extra amount for functionality.

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