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"In Memory to The Greatest-Devoted Husband,Father,and Stock Car Racer"
Picture credits go to Nascar.com
Logitech FF Wheel Controller
Chris Keenan, a member of SC site and director of the SSCRA 99 TEN online league, has provided us with a review of the new Logitech FF wheel controller. Seems to be very similar to the Microsoft FF wheel that I reviewed. Chris said he may be providing me with some pictures also. So with that said, here is his review on the Logitech FF wheel.
I had been looking for a new wheel for sometime, as the old trusty Thrustmaster Formula 1 was getting on in age, and at first I was looking at the Thrustmaster Nascar Pro. But when the price of the Logitech FF came down, I decided to spend a few extra dollars to get it. Now, the force feedback controller not only lets you feel the bumps, taps, and bangs that happen, but it also gives you the feel of a real steering wheel. So, when it is time for me to go back and use the older wheel when I have to, it is sometimes difficult to adjust to. I'll cover what games I've gotten to work at this time with the wheel, and and work arounds that I have.
System used for Testing
The machine I have is a AMD K6-450 with 64 megs of Ram and a VooDoo3 3500 (See review elsewhere) Unfortunately I don't have a projection screen, so my 15" monitor had to do.
Installation of Logitech software
Installation of the controller was a little weird. Most hardware that I have dealt with, you install the hardware first, and then the drivers for it, but this called for installing the software first. The wheel can be used with either a 9 pin serial connection or a USB port. I chose to use the USB port as my mouse is on the 9pin serial connection.
The software comes on CD, and pretty much does everything itself. It installs the necessary drivers, makes sure you have DirectX 6.0 or later, and installs the "profiler". Once installed, the software then restarts the computer, at which time you need to install the wheel itself.
Logitech Wheel controller hardware and installation
The wheel comes in 3 parts, the AC adapter to give it power, the pedals, and the wheel itself. There is also an adapter that converts the serial port to USB. Once installed, the machine should be turned back on. Pretty easy to do.
The controls themselves are pretty sturdy. The pedals are nice and wide and comes with 6 rubber feet to prevent much moving. The wheel itself is nice and compact, has 4 buttons on the wheel and two paddle/levers behind the wheel. There is no shifter, which is the only complaint I had for the wheel, but that is nothing major. All settings are controlled with the "profiler".
Operation of the software
The Control Panel "Profiler" The control panel is nice and compact. It lets you set up default settings for each game it has. You can choose for a predetermined list or create a custom profile. Within here, you can set buttons to do certain things within the game, and record keystrokes to do. I haven't really had time to sit down and play with this utility, but it has a lot of promise. As I do play with this, I'll post more on the subject. In the setup for the controller, you can turn force feedback on and off, put the pedals on one or two axis, and set the intensity or lack there of of the force feedback, or turn the centering off and on. From the control panel, you can launch your games if you like. The control panel is smart enough to determine if the wheel is plugged up or not also.
Games tested with the Logitech FF wheel
The wheel came with two games, F1RS and Motorhead, but I didn't mess with them, as I would rather test games that I currently had and know had force feedback support. The first one I did was Sports Car GT. This game is totally different from a driving stand point with FF turned on. Going over rumple strips provide vibrations in the wheel, dropping a wheel off into the grass or dirt jerks it in that direction. Swapping paint jolts the wheel, hitting the wall jolts it harder. The biggest thing is when you loose grip you can feel it in the steering wheel, or if you hit a bump and loose traction, it moves more freely. The next game I tested was GPL. GPL was a little harder to setup as you have to edit an ini file to enable FF, but once enabled, you get the same sensations as with SCGT, only they aren't as drastic. The one thing that did remain common was the feel when you loose traction or you are out of control. With the lack of grip, the wheel moves more freely. One of the last games that I tested was NASCAR Revolution. I know, not the greatest game in the world, but the FF is realistic here. If N3 has this kind of support for FF, it will be one of the top games in my collection.
Games not working at this time.
Games that I couldn't get to work at this time are NASCAR 2, N99 works just fine, just no ff. I also couldn't get NROS to work with the wheel, although I suspect that comes from not getting N2 to work. Get one to work, and I'm sure the other will work. (The profiler has N2 listed, but I haven't yet to get it to work.) Any game that doesn't have true windows support has worked yet. I'm sure this has to do with the fact that the controller is not truly hooked up to the joystick port, but to the serial or USB port.
Overall Rating of Logitech FF wheel
Overall, on a scale of 5, I would say this controller would be a 4.5 The only draw back is that the pedals are a little soft to my liking, but they aren't poorly made. So, if looking, this isn't a bad purchase. Over time as I find out more tricks and flaws I'll update this review.
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