MS Force Feedback Wheel review

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This review was written by nrg_wp from the MyADSL forums, if you have a review that you would like published please feel free to send them along.

I know that it is not in SA yet, due to some disagreements by ICASA & MS (I think) on how to classify it (wired or wireless).

I got one in Germany last week, and a few people are importing it. So to help anybody who’s interested in getting one, here’s my take.

Firstly, I was quite a fan of PC racing, particular sim-racing. This includes finishing CMR, Toca, and more importantly, genuine sims like Richard Burns Rally and GTR FIA. I played these with a Logitech MOMO racing wheel. Though not hailed as the best, I do believe it is one of the best. Great Force Feedback, rigid design, and excellent realism. I prefer it over the Driving Force Pro. I will use this experience as a basis for my comparisons/evaluation.

Just some historical background on Force Feedback and the 360. Up until now, there has been no true force feedback wheels for the xbox 360. Only ‘axial’ feedback exists. This is where it auto centers, and vibrates (using the same signal as received by a standard gamepad).

Secondly, only Microsoft has the rights to create Force Feedback wheels, and I am not sure if they will release the licence to Logitech or any other manufacturer (I really hope they do).

DESIGN AND ERGONOMICS – 8/10
Regarding ‘is it wireless?’ yes and no. It is wireless if you use batteries and connect it to the Xbox like a wireless gamepad. But then it will have no force feedback. So the only way to have force feedback, is when you plug in the AC adapter. Trust me, you want to plug in the adapter. The wheel has the leg rest, or table mount, I recommend the table mount as it will transfer the feedback effects best in this way. The pedal grip is ok, not great, but it does have a gap on the base, where your heels can grip the floor. The wheel has an F1 style shape, with a flat lower part. The main part is a nice thick rubber grip with aluminium finish at the bottom. The design of the set is in line with the rest of the 360 range, logo, colour, shapes etc?.

FEEDBACK AND DRIVING – 7/10
I tested the wheel with Forza 2 and CMR DiRT, both true FF games. Both with excellent FF coding. The wheel motor is strong, but not as good as the Logitech, but this isn’t necessarily bad, as your arms get really tired in CMR or a 1 hour race in forza. There is a bit of play in the wheel shaft, which can be a bit offputting, but it doesn’t affect the driving accuracy. The build quality can be better, but you can punish it if you want. The pedals are a bit on the soft side, and ideally, force feedback brakes would rock. It does sound like a lot of criticism, but I am comparing it to hundreds of hours of racing on my MOMO. On the positive side, feedback as accurate, you can really feel front end grip and bite. Surface change is noticeable in DiRT. You even feel a steering jerk when you change gears. In Forza, you are able to asses grip levels quite nicely. Throttle and brakes are nice and progressive, no issues with dead zones/full throttles. The wheel centers nicely, and to date, no straddling. Keeping the car straight in forza isn?t a problem either.

VERDICT – 7.5/10
Although these days people look for 9/10’s’ note that 7.5 is not a bad score. It is a B. I would give my MOMO an 8.5, and the G35 a 9.5 to add some perspective.

Better shaft design, stronger motors and heavier pedals would be on my wishlist. I paid R1100 for it in germany, which isn’t a bad price. If you like Racing, it is a must. I can never play DiRT with a gamepad again, it’s just hella fun.

Does it make laptimes better? Yes, very slightly, with some practice

Last Updated: September 10, 2007

Gavin Mannion

I for one welcome our future robotic overlords

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