Retailing for around $34.99, the Raven controller is a reasonable wireless alternative to the Sony’s standard DualShock 3 controller. The Nyko Raven is easy to set up, just plug in the USB wireless “dongle”, turn on the system, and press the home button on the controller to get started. It comes packaged with its own USB charging cable as well, a nice perk since Sony does not package additional charging cables with their DualShock 3 controllers. It also features Sixaxis-style motion controls, giving it an identical feature set to the Sony first-party offering.
The surface of the controller has the popular soft touch rubber finish, giving it a good texture and grip for prolonged gaming sessions. Visually, the Raven resembles Microsoft’s much-lauded Xbox 360 controller. The shoulder buttons lie flush with the contours of the controller and it features offset analog sticks, a very popular design for most gamers. The sticks’ surfaces are coated with the same soft touch finish and have a concave shape, a welcome improvement for accuracy and grip. The only real downside to the sticks is that the L3 and R3 buttons – located by pressing the sticks down – are very stiff. While very few games utilize these buttons, it’s worth noting that they are nowhere near as smooth to click as Sony’s first-party fare.
Nyko has also made significant improvements to the standard trigger design over the DualShock. The Raven’s left and right trigger buttons protrude back from the controller and have a slight upward curve to them, making it much easier and more comfortable to hold and push the buttons down. Unfortunately, the L1/R1 buttons are almost flush with the contours of the controller and do not move very far when pressed. While some gamers will likely appreciate that you do not have to press hard or very far, it can be hard to tell if you’ve actually pushed the button, making action games in particular feel a bit less responsive.
The good news is that Nyko seems to know this may be an issue and the back of the controller features a small switch near the bottom. Sliding the switch over reverses the buttons and triggers, allowing for a bit of customization that’s largely absent from most controllers. Switching the L1 and R1 buttons to the triggers is a good alternative, provided your game only makes use of one set of shoulder buttons. Overall, it’s a nice option to have as a large portion of PlayStation 3 games use L1 and R1 as the aim and fire buttons and being able to switch those to the actual triggers makes a big difference.
There is a little to say about the size and shape of the controller, however. In using Microsoft’s controllers as inspiration, Nyko’s Raven controller suffers a bit from a diminished size and a slightly uncomfortable shape. The controller itself isn’t going to fit into large hands very well and can make prolonged gaming sessions very uncomfortable. Adding to this is the actual handles and grips of the controller. The handles are contoured nicely and felt comfortable. However, the stick is almost straight down from the controller, putting the consumer’s wrists at an odd angle when held the way the designers clearly intended.
Overall, if you are looking for a cheaper, wireless alternative to the DualShock, the Nyko Raven could be a good option for you. However, if your hands range on the larger side, you may want to shop around a bit more.