With the release of "Gran Turismo 3: A-spec" came Logitech's GT Force racing wheel. The wheel was developed in conjunction with Sony's simulation game, and it featured force feedback for a realistic in-game driving experience. And the concept was certainly appealing, but the price tag was far from attractive since I had become so accustomed to racing with the controller's analog sticks.
Not much has changed with subsequent wheel releases - the prices remained steep and the additions of new features were scarce. Amongst claims that the wheel produced a completely new experience when playing the "Gran Turismo" games and even made some races easier, I decided that with a new generation of consoles, I should try my best to debunk this assertion.
Along side the release of "Gran Turismo 5 Prologue," Logitech unleashed its newest wheel, the Driving Force GT. Like its predecessors, the wheel features force feedback to mimic the car's handling and any bumps on the road - it even adopts a light and smooth feeling when drafting opponents. But Logitech incorporated a 24-position adjustment dial never before released on any of its previous wheels; and this feature alone skyrockets the wheel beyond any standard PlayStation controller. Rather than having to exit out of a race to make adjustments to the traction control, brake bias or various other tuning options, the dial allows the gamer to make these adjustments in realtime so that the car can be fine tuned to a specific course or competitor.
Initially I was turned off by the performance of the wheel. I didn't like the mimicking of over- and under-steering. I didn't feel like it did justice to a true driving experience. It wasn't long before I realized that it wasn't the wheel's performance that was lacking, rather it was my driving. So about a dozen races later I worked out the importance of careful steering and braking. And although I still don't perform quite as well on all of the courses as I did with the controller, many of the races that involve over-taking opponents have become much simpler due to the wheel's response to drafting.
The biggest problem that comes with the Driving Force GT and any driving wheel, for that matter, is finding a place to mount it. While at my desk, with the PS3 connected to my monitor, it was ideal to mount the wheel console to the desk top and have the pedals under my desk. But the majority of my gaming is not done from the confines of an office. And until I can bring myself to buy Sparco's GT Racing Cockpit Pro, I'll have to somehow find a comfortable solution to driving in my living room other than mounting the wheel to a two-foot high coffee table.