Logitech is a company that has been around for a while. Started in 1981 out of Switzerland, Logitech currently has three main headquarter locations in California, Switzerland and Taiwan. With over 3,500 employees they have mainly focused on making peripherals for PC's. They have pioneered the use of true force feedback in consumer products and also make all kinds of devices from Internet video cameras and cordless mice to multimedia speaker systems and keyboards.
They certainly have a loyal following in the PC market and with their expansion into the home console arena a whole new consumer base can now be captivated with this companies innovative product line.
One of the first things we noticed when taking the GT Force Wheel out of the box (well actually ripping the box apart) was its size. From all of the pictures that we have seen posted around the net we also had the impression that it was the practically the size of a normal steering wheel. The GT Force wheel and its base are actually quite small though. The other thing we noticed right away is that the thing is attractive. With its blue steering grips plastered over the wheels black matt finish and the Gran Turismo logo emblazoned on the center hub the device is a real looker.
The GT Force fits comfortably in ones hands and features indentations where your thumbs can easily wrap around and also easily access the logical button layout. The brake and gas pedals are mounted to a separate base with a cord that plugs into the wheels base. There is also an independent power supply that plugs into an outlet to provide the unit electricity for the force feedback.
The GT Force is connected to the PS2 via a USB cable that extends 6'. I would personally have liked to seen a longer cord but this one is adequate.
Clamps protrude from the bottom of the base for easy mounting to tabletops. Spacers are also included for attaching the base to very thin tables.
With the advent of true force feedback technology becoming more and more widespread (and affordable), it makes common sense to finally introduce it to a mass market…namely the console audience. And what better way to make this jump than to piggyback it along with one of the most popular gaming franchises ever introduced - the Gran Turismo series. What Logitech did was re-badge their PC Force wheel specifically for Sony's PS2 racer.
We tested this wheel extensively (hell, in all honesty who wouldn't) with GT3, Twisted Metal Black, Tokyo X'treme Racing Zero, Motor Mayhem and NASCAR Heat 2002.
Right up front let me give gamers out there a warning…the base has clamps on it for a reason! Due to the torque generated by the force feedback system, the GT Force Wheel is definitely not something that you can rest on you're lap and use with any amount of success. Okay, warning over…
If you have ever wanted to experience GT3 in a whole new light or just want to get everything out of the game the way the developers intended than you have just got to get this wheel. It adds so much to the overall gameplay that it's not even funny. It not only drags you into the game and provides a more realistic experience but it will also improve your lap times and the overall responsiveness of the car…once you get used to it.
Be warned though, playing GT3 with the GT Force is like playing a whole new game. Handling of the cars is totally different from the Dual Shock 2 and when first trying the wheel you will most certainly end up kissing the walls a good number of times. Each new track felt like it had to be re-learned slightly and it took several races before feeling at home with it.
With the wheel you get resistance from many more things…just driving over the edge strips on the road will cause the wheel to jerk. Of course getting brushed by other cars or hitting a guardrail could be enough to make one lose control. Even taking turns requires a completely different strategy. The feeling is now one of actually driving a car. Going too fast and moving the wheel slightly left or right will start the car swerving almost uncontrollably. Also, the brakes and gas work MUCH better on the wheel than on the controller. Once again I had to re-adjust my thinking and driving habits when approaching and leaving turns. Don't give up though…when you stick with it and begin to get the feel for the wheel, things take a dramatic swing for the better. The one lasting impression that I walked away with was that it now FELT like I was driving a real car. The behavior and physics are much closer to reality with the GT Force and it mates perfectly with A-Spec.
Playing through the other games was basically the same experience…I had to re-learn how to drive and alter my reaction times…the cars behave differently! NASCAR Heat was a great example…taking a long curve will begin enacting centrifugal force and the wheel reacts accordingly by fighting you and pulling right. Failure to obey the warning signs will result in the back end of the car fish tailing, then the ensuing spin out, and finally the customary crash into the wall that normally soon follows.
So, I guess what I am trying to say is that the force feedback is NOT just another gimmick and the GT Force Wheel as a whole is an incredible accessory for any person that loves driving games. It just adds so much to a title that it feels like you are playing a whole new game again.
· First true Force Feedback wheel for a gaming console
· Ergonomically designed wheel and handgrips
· Fully operationally and realistically designed brake and gas pedals
· Clamps on the wheel base for attaching to tabletops
· Gear shifters comfortably mounted to the back side of the wheel
· USB connection to the PS2
Even though the wheel, base, gas and brake pedals are all constructed of rather lightweight plastic, the unit appeared to be quite durable and well built. Logitech is offering a full one-year warranty with the GT Force Wheel.
After playing GT3 and several other games extensively with the GT Force, I walked away convinced that this was truly the absolute best way to experience driving games and GT3 specifically. The wheel is so finely mated to A-Spec that I could literally never go back to playing the game with a controller again knowing what I would be missing.
The price of admission for the wheel is a bit steep but in this reviewers humble opinion it is a steal for what it gives back in terms of offering a whole new game playing experience.
About the only drawbacks that I could come up with were the following:
#1 - the USB cord is only 6 feet long. It's too short; 10 feet would have been much better.
#2 - Remember to keep the controller plugged into port one in addition to using the wheel on the PS2. Navigation through the game menus is much easier this way...especially considering there is no Start or Select button on the wheel itself.
#3 - Setting the wheel up, while extremely simple, is still a pain in the ass. The biggest problem with wheels is that most people get tired of dragging them out…a controller is obviously much quicker. The GT Force just may be one of the few exceptions though…it is so good that people may not mind going out of their way to set it up.
#4 - You NEED a table to mount the wheel on. Forget about holding it in your lap.
#5 - Those of you who have already played the game extensively using the joypad will have to endure a learning curve of anywhere from 2 to 6 races depending on your skillset. Personally speaking, after the first few races I was already lowering my lap times and winning races where I had previously only placed 2nd or 3rd.
Bottom line…if you are a driving/racing fan get the wheel…it will be the best videogame related cash you will ever spend. For everyone else…if you like GT3 you will want to give this device some serious consideration. It elevates the game into the stratosphere.
Tom Rooney (APi)