Abstract: With a street price of an average whopping $140, this is by no means a cheap toy. The Microsoft Sidewinder Force Feedback Steering Wheel is a gaming piece that will pinch the hell out of a wallet.
Microsoft Sidewinder FeedBack Wheel
With a street price of an average whopping $140, this is by no means a cheap toy. The Microsoft Sidewinder Force Feedback Steering Wheel is a gaming piece that will pinch the hell out of a wallet. But is it worth the price tag?
Picture this, you are a commuting type person who drives in traffic on quite a few occasions. During said commute, your rage slowly builds to the point of putting a few cars and pedestrians between the crosshairs of the hood ornament is looking damn tempting. Unfortunately, if you are like me, prison is not so appealing so you just hold it in. If you had one of these killer wheel/pedal gaming attachments you could say, throw in a copy of Carmageddon and take out some fake people, twist some steel around the city, and cry havoc as you feel every bump, spin-out, gravel road, and innocent bystander that bounces off of your automobile of death! I am sorry, you just can't get that kind of tension relief by playing road games with a keyboard, I mean really people. How realistic is using the z and x key for steering, others for acceleration and breaking, and the handbrake and spinout feature are the shift and control buttons. Just ain't happening.
If you are into driving games as much as I am, this is THE gaming item to have. With fully user adjustable forces you can actually feel, like engine idle, ice, gravel, rollovers, skids, etc. you just can't get this kind of excitement anywhere else. Well unless of course you have diplomatic immunity and running over small children and other objects won't get you the death penalty, only deported.
Down to the dirty stuff, installing this bad boy setup took an entire 8-10 minutes. Plug in the power pack, place the pedal assembly comfortably under the desk, slap the wheel on top and attach all cables, some software install and bammo...you are ready to race! One thing I would recommend is to attach all the cables BEFORE latching down the wheel. Otherwise, the connections are angled so it is next to impossible to get them in without the possibility of totally jacking up the new gear. The Sidewinder software gives you an option of retaining various settings for different games. I thought that was kind of neat, although somewhat unnecessary. It may be a great tool for those of you who are totally into each driving game.
Included in the package is a full version of Monster Truck Madness 2, and C.A.R.T racing. Both are fun enough for most people, I mean who doesn't get a kick out of driving a monster truck over cars, and in multiplayer or online mode you can drive over other people (always a plus!). Now that we have established the fact I am sick and want to commit vehicular homicide, what are the bad parts of this hardware. Well, for the most part, the damn pedal assembly likes to move around unless you keep your left foot on it at all times. I almost got out the Makita and some 3" screws to take care of that, but I was immediately reminded by the other half (my wife of course) that doing so would likely mean a week or so on the couch. All of a sudden it didn't look like that great of a plan, so I dealt with it. One other thing is the unit is not that small, and when not in use can get in the way no matter where you try and stash it. Unhooking all the cables is an option I guess, but that would be to simple, and would also mean reconnecting them for game play.
Now some of you may be wondering what performance hit your system will take because now you need to process the output for the gaming device. I didn't feel a great need to run benches on that aspect, because visually and game-feel wise I noticed no lag or difference in any of my fav's. Not to mention the fact that any minor performance drop that may have been there was surely drown out by the coolness of being able to drive my desk over PEOPLE!! On a gaming note, most driving games, including a majority of downloadable demo's support the force feedback wheel so you are sure to get some use out of it. If you have a copy of Driver, the latest from GT Interactive, this is the best thing to play it with. My desk gets a good 1-2 hour workout most days, or at least when I can sneak some time in under the ever watchful eye of the lady of the house.
On a late addition to the above, Windows 2000 with DirectX 7 will auto-detect this toy with no issues, and we thought any version of NT was a pain in the ass for gaming.........