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N-Control Avenger (Hardware) Review

N-Control’s controller ‘enhancer’ bedecks your usual stock control pad with a smorgasbord of doodads, and it’s awesome.

I’ll be very honest here, when I first saw the Avenger out of the box, I wasn’t really looking forward to trying it out. It’s almost silly looking after all, with its button extenders and pulleys that hang off of the L and R buttons. A friend actually remarked that it looked like something I had put together myself, and I had no idea how I was going to use this thing in a single player game, let alone a multiplayer match.

Well, I was so far off base it’s not even funny, because this little guy is anything but silly. Sure it might look like something out of the Aliens movies (which is actually kind of cool now that I think about it), but the added control that the Avenger gives you is nothing to sneeze at. And that’s really what this peripheral is all about, added control.

That’s the bread and butter of the Avenger and how the device has made a name for itself in the years since its original release for the Xbox 360. Designed like a clamshell, the Avenger snaps open via a hinge, and then snaps closed again, once you’ve placed your controller inside, with a satisfying click. The fit is excellent too, and it isn’t loose and in no way slides around on the pad contained within. It honestly doesn’t even feel like a third-party add-on it’s so well made.

Believe it or not, all this added ‘stuff’ is pretty dang awesome

The Avenger adds a semi-rubbery coating to the topside of your controller too, and while that’s not the main selling point here, it is really nice and comfy in the hands and that’s especially true in long play sessions. So I mentioned ‘added control’, and you’re probably wondering how that could come out o something like this. Well, easy actually.

Once you have the Avenger snapped onto your pad (the first-part Xbox 360 controller was used for this review and is the intended pad to use), you’ll notice that the ends of the ‘arms’ line up perfectly with the X, Y, and B buttons. These arms then bend all around the pad in order to give you the ability to hit the buttons that they hover over without moving your thumb off of the right analog stick. Simply put, you can access almost all of the controls on the face and top of your pad with your other fingers, and therefor never need to move your right thumb… well, almost never.

The only button that’s left out in the cold is the A button. For some reason, A isn’t covered by anything and sits out in the open as normal. I’m not sure why N-Control made this design choice, but I assume it had something to do with not being able to get an extender for A to work properly. It’s not a devastating thing not to have it, though I have to add that it is noticeable when you’ve become accustomed to the Avenger, and you still have to move your thumb to hit that A button, even though you’ve gotten otherwise spoiled.

The spoiling, by the way, comes after a bit of a learning curve. Things with the Avenger might not go as smoothly as you might hope at the onset. It took me around 20 minutes to get totally comfortable using it, as I instinctively wanted to do things the way I’ve been doing them for, well forever. But once I got the hang of it, and stopped trying to press buttons with my thumb, it was pretty amazing.

Your right pointer finger is used to hit the B button, as well as Y, while your left pointer hits the X button. There is no extension for the bumpers, but the triggers (both left and right) make use of the pulleys I mentioned above. There are actually two ways to set up these pulleys, and both have their merits. I chose however, to loop them both and have y index fingers sit comfortably inside, tugging them gently when I needed to open fire or toss a grenade.

The most customizable part of the Avenger, the L & R straps are a fantastic idea

I realize those last few paragraphs might sound really, really weird, but trust me, this thing works like a dream and actually does make playing shooters easier to some degree. Don’t get me wrong, if you’re not all that great at FPS games, you’re still going to rack up the ‘deaths’, but with the Avenger locked into place, you might log a few more kills than normal. I know I did, and I haven’t played online multiplayer to any great degree in years.

Final Thoughts

What’s left to say about the Avenger? It looks weird, but it’s awesome? That probably sums it up nicely.

I played through campaign and multiplayer modes with some of my favorite FPS’ and the Avenger performed flawlessly in all of them. Even some third-person titles could hake good use of it now that I think about it, though I wouldn’t recommend using it with any other genre. And if there’s a down side here, it’s that. The Avenger just was not designed for any other genre than shooters. If you’re a FPS nut, then buying an Avenger is a pretty easy decision to make, even with the fact that the A button and bumpers aren’t in on the ‘enhancement’. If not, and you only play an occasional shooter, you might want to think about it first.

While I played around with an Xbox 360 edition for this review, the Avenger is now available for the PS3, as well as the Xbox One and PS4. So there’s one for pretty much whatever console you prefer (and the PC if you use a 360 controller!).

About Jason Micciche

Jason's been knee deep in videogames since he was but a lad. Cutting his teeth on the pixely glory that was the Atari 2600, he's been hack'n'slashing and shoot'em'uping ever since. Mainly an FPS and action guy, Jason enjoys the occasional well crafted title from every genre.

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