So, the new force feedback wheel from Logitech has arrived…but is it any good? If you mean does it look and feel like the real thing, then the answer is yes. If, on the other hand you meant does it enhance game play, add to the realism and make any driving game a pleasure to play, the answer is again, yes. In fact, you’d be hard pushed to find any driving game that this wheel and pedal combo fails to completely and absolutely transform.
It’s Saturday afternoon, you’ve been shopping and you’ve done it. You’ve parted with around £100 of your hard-earned cash and you’re sitting in front of your TV with a rather smug grin on your face as sat in front of you, in a shiny blue box, is your new Driving Force Pro. As you pull the steering wheel out of the box the first thing you notice is how solid and chunky it feels - long gone are the days of hollow plastic arcade wheels - this bad boy is the real deal and feels every bit the sports car wheel it emulates so well. Everything is there, from the sequential gearshift to the standard D-pad and eight action buttons, down to the wheel-mounted paddles, which can be used instead of the pedals or to change gear when the action precludes movement of the hands from the wheel! The pedals themselves are fairly standard but have a new, and very effective, carpet gripping system which stops them sliding away at that crucial braking moment.
Once you’re over the initial excitement, it’s time to set it up and get racing. The wheel simply fixes to any coffee table to hand with two quick and easy clamps but can be used with on optional lap attachment (around £15) to allow sofa driving. Stick in a bit of electricity from the adaptor, plug into the PS2 USB hub and off you go. The wheel is currently supported by most legacy driving games and will be fully supported by Gran Turismo 4 - but more of that later…
The first thing you’ll notice is the force - not for the Mr Muscles of this world. Although the force can be adjusted, this incarnation can produce twice the force of the Driving Force or GT Force wheels and if you do use 100% of the feedback available, you’ll certainly know about it. Whilst on the subject of feedback, how good is it really? Really - it’s nothing short of phenomenal. You can feel every bump and dip in WRC 3, every curb in Formula One 2003 and each individual piece of gravel in Colin McRae 04. But it’s more than that. Push your car hard into a corner and you’ll feel exactly when the tyres are going to give up their hold on the tarmac. Battle against deep snow drifts and then feel the wheels go light as a feather as you move onto ice. Brake hard and you’ll feel the wheel weighting-up. It really is incredible how much of a sense of what the car is doing you can get through your hands - but Logitech clearly know how to stimulate this particular sense to perfection.
And now back to Gran Turismo 4 - it’s what this wheel was made for, literally. On the older games I’ve mentioned, the wheel has 200 degrees of rotation. When Gran Turismo 4 hits the shelves (and presumably all future games that support the wheel), it will have 900o of rotation - that’s 2½ turns…each way! Now, I’ve used the wheel on Gran Turismo 3 A-Spec and was overwhelmed by how it utterly transformed the game - roll on edition 4…it will be awesome.
It goes without saying that this is one for the avid driving game fan - and most of you will already have a wheel, but rest assured, this isn’t simply the “latest one” to hit the marketplace, and for me this is “the one”. When the next generation of driving games come out, you’ll either have the Driving Force Pro, or you won’t - it’s that simple. Staggering.