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Nyko Raven (Alternative) review: Nyko Raven (Alternative)

Nyko Raven (Alternative)

Jeff Bakalar Editor at Large
Jeff is CNET Editor at Large and a host for CNET video. He's regularly featured on CBS and CBSN. He founded the site's longest-running podcast, The 404 Show, which ran for 10 years. He's currently featured on Giant Bomb's Giant Beastcast podcast and has an unhealthy obsession with ice hockey and pinball.
Jeff Bakalar
3 min read

The general consensus among the gaming community seems to lean toward the Xbox 360 as having the superior controller in terms of playing first-person shooters. Of course the claim is purely preferential, but it's not completely unreasonable to assume that owners of another console would want to experience a universal controller layout across multiple platforms.


Nyko Raven (Alternative)

The Good

Gives PS3 owners a chance to use an Xbox 360 controller configuration; easy to install; internal battery; soft rubberized matte finish.

The Bad

Monopolizes a USB port; unresponsive D-pad; too bulky.

The Bottom Line

Though the Nyko Raven PS3 controller provides an Xbox 360 controller configuration for the PS3, its unresponsive D-pad and bulky feel will have you looking elsewhere.

Late last year Nyko introduced the Raven PS3 controller, a product aimed at giving PS3 owners the chance to enjoy gaming on their console of choice but with the feel and look of an Xbox 360 controller.

We should note that the Raven is also available in a standard PS3-style analog stick layout as well. The one reviewed here is known as the "alternate" layout.

Nyko certainly has the right idea here, but unfortunately a few deal-breaking annoyances and hurdles hold this third-party controller back from its full potential.

At first glance, the Raven looks more like a jet-black Xbox 360 controller. It's only until further inspection reveals X, O, square, and triangle buttons that you realize it's in fact a PS3 controller. Even the rear bumper and trigger (L1, L2, R1, R2) buttons resemble the 360 design, though the bumpers feel a bit spongy when pressed.

The Raven is covered in a black rubberized matte, which feels great, but almost immediately showed streaks from the natural oils in our hands. The overall shape of the controller is sharp and edgy, but when held ultimately feels bulky. After about a week of testing, we never really got used to the Raven's odd design.

From the side, we can really understand the Raven's bulky chassis.

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.

Almost every button on the Raven resembles ones on an Xbox 360 controller.

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.


Nyko Raven (Alternative)

Score Breakdown

Design 6Features 6Performance 6