Earlier we discussed how we imagined PS3 owners opting for something like the Raven because of its 360-inspired analog stick positioning. Since this layout is usually associated with playing a first-person shooter, we immediately thought to try out the Raven with the latest PS3-exclusive shooter blockbuster, Killzone 3.
While everyone's preference differs, we definitely think using the Raven provides a better experience with controlling the game, but this also unearthed some disappointing performance from the directional pad. Killzone 3 makes use of the up direction on the D-pad to locate checkpoints--for which we found the Raven's only worked when we pressed harder than normal. While all three other directions seem to work fine, the up direction had issues. To be sure, we tried out another Raven, but found the D-pad to be just as unresponsive.
Other than the D-pad and mushy bumper buttons, the rest of the Raven performed as expected. The controller's motion-sensing controls performed just as well as a standard DualShock 3's, as did the vibration feedback. The analog sticks do feel a bit springier, but we got used to their behavior in just a few sessions.
The Raven has a built-in battery pack like Sony's standard PS3 controllers, and Nyko claims a full charge will net 25 hours of play time. We didn't rack up that many hours in our testing, but we also didn't have to recharge at all, either. Charging can be done with any USB wire, and we're happy to report any powered USB will do the job, unlike Sony's finicky DualShock 3 controller that must use a PS3 to charge.
The Raven isn't a Bluetooth controller, so it makes use of a USB dongle that plugs into the front of the PS3. We wish there were another way around this, as it takes up a USB slot that might be needed for other PS3 accessories.
Overall, we were only half pleased with the Raven's performance. At $35, consumers will only save $5 over Sony's proven DualShock 3. That said, the analog stick placement is certainly unique and remains one of the only solutions for PS3 owners who want the Xbox 360 controller layout experience.