The Nyko Raven controller is an attempt to bring a truly superior controller to PS3 players who complain about the size of the DualShock3 and, to some extent, the layout. The Raven, available in 2 models (alternate and regular) was designed to emulate the Xbox 360’s controller.  Alternate has the dual analog configuration of an Xbox controller while the regular keeps them in tight like the DS3.  I would have to say Nyko went all out – these are in no way cheap knock-off controllers.

The first thing you notice about the raven is the feel and look of the controller. It feels great! Great in the, “I want to rub it against my face” great.   Advertised as “silky-smooth”, it not only feels great but looks good too. It’s coated with a nice black matte finish which gives it a classier look than most conventional controllers. When you combine the look and feel with the inward shaping of the controller handles (similar to the Xbox controller only more ergonomically designed), you get a controller that, upon first impression, looks and feels almost perfect. My first time holding it, I was convinced it was the most comfortable controller I had ever held.

The Raven is almost exactly the same size and weight as the Xbox 360 controller. For larger gamers like myself, it felt better for my hands and wrists than both the first party Ps3 and Xbox 360 controllers. I put in hours of play and had no problems with hand cramps.

The Raven has a few other desired Xbox controller features including that the L2 and R2 Triggers are shaped like “triggers”. These triggers are covered in a rubber finish which makes them quite comfortable and with a grip to prevent your fingers from slipping.  The upper “trigger” buttons R1 and L1 are made of plastic and feel very much the way they do on the DS3.  The analog sticks are raised a little higher, smaller in circumference, and are concave making them quite different than what you’d find on both the Xbox and Dual shock 3 controllers. They also have a tighter feel than both.

The D-pad is shaped like a plus. It’s simple and seems to work well. It has a better feel and seems more responsive than the Xbox D-pad although it’s not quite as effective as the Dual Shock 3.

What I did next was to try it out on a few games…and I picked some good ones. I tried it with God of War 3, Killzone 2, Killzone 3 beta and Assassin’s Creed Brotherhood.  The face buttons worked perfectly and did their job well. The triggers felt great in both of the Killzone games and Nyko gives you an option (via and A-B swith on the underside) to switch R1 and L1 for R2 and L2. In other words, switch the shooting buttons. Again, the triggers were responsive and worked very well.

However, the analog sticks are a little too tight for my liking. In God of War III, it seemed to take longer to perform a few of the necessary motions – because the sticks are a little too stiff. In playing the Killzone 3 beta, it was harder to make quick reflexive turn-around shots and it was also harder to change directions while sprinting in ACB. Truthfully, I think it’s more of the problem that the controller is new and hopefully with a little more play, the sticks should become looser.

When testing to find dead zones I couldn’t really find anything beyond what you have in the PS3. The controller seems to be at least as competent as the DS3 in that respect.

The Raven has a few other important features to note. Of course it has a dual force feedback motor response which feels good but just isn’t quit as strong as the DS3’s. It’s not a huge difference, but more of a person’s preference and depends on how important feedback is to you. It’s also important to note that the Raven is not Bluetooth enabled. It comes with a USB dongle and if you have a PS3 Slim with only 2 USB ports, this could be a problem.

On the more positive side, it does function perfectly with SixAxis play. You won’t notice a difference. It also boasts a 25 hour play charge and comes with it’s own USB charger. It charges pretty quickly and from my experience the 25 hr charge seems accurate.

Years ago, after bad experiences with third-party controllers, I vowed never to buy one again. They never felt right or worked the way they should so it just wasn’t worth it to save a few dollars. The Nyko Raven is something different. It is definitely a quality product and deserves a look. It feels great and in many ways performs at least as good as the DS3. My only problem with giving this a “great” recommendation is with the action and the tightness of the analog sticks.  It seriously affected my k/d and play in both Killzone 2 and the Killzone 3 beta.  Although, I feel that they may be able to be “broken in” and could perform better in the future – you simply don’t mess with a man’s K/D ratio.

Here’s The Rundown:

+ Best 3rd party controller I’ve EVER used

+ Nice matte finish looks and feels good

+ Love that it has real triggers

+ Fits my hand perfectly

–  No bluetooth – requires a USB dongle

–  Analog sticks too tight  – can affect quick responses

–  Force Feedback is weaker than DualShock3

The Nyko Raven PS3 controller was developed by Nyko and released on August 31st, 2010 for a MSRP of $34.99 USD.  Samples of the product were provided by the developer for the purposes of review.