Buying a steering wheel is serious business, and that's no joke. I bought a 360 Modena last year (but I'm sure you've already read the review) and it turned out to be a sound investment. However, the time had come to replace and move on; to the next level that is the arena of Force Feedback. There are several contenders for this hole in my periphery. Namely three, the Microsoft Sidewinder, the Logitech Wingman and this Guillemot model. I had tried the Microsoft model at a friend's house and found it quite reasonable, however it's only really as good as the effects in the game (in terms of Force Feedback anyway). I had selected the Guillemot model based on price, previous experience and features. At £80, it's cheaper than the other two and seemed to offer similar or better features. It came in a sizeable box and included the wheel, the pedals, an instruction leaflet and all the cables and power supply. It's pretty heavy, which is normally a good sign. The unit's fixed onto a desk by a large plastic clamp on the base, and sticks pretty well, even whilst it's being thrashed around. The pedals are connected to the wheel by what looks like a phone cord. All the cables are connected in the left hand side of the back of the wheel, which is as good a place as any I suppose. Cable lengths are ample, and it also includes an On/Off switch. The plug adapter does tend to get a bit hot, so it's advisable to only plug it in when it is required. The pedals are pretty good, and certainly different from my previous model. They go backwards instead of downwards. However, the accelerator has the same resistance as the brake, which is different. I'd prefer to have more resistance in the brake, as in real life, but having said that they are good and does stay in place when being used properly despite what many people say. The wheel moves very differently to a non-Force Feedback model (obviously), and d
oes so with sort of a grinding, which is apparently normal. The wheel also comes with the flipshift "F1" style gearshifts, which are very useful for F1 games, but I'm not a big gear user to be honest. On the subject, it also comes with a small gear lever that moves up and down placed on the right of the wheel. This I imagine would be pretty good, and are used in the WRC, but like I say I am not a big user of manual gears (because I'm lazy). It's also unfortunately placed on the right, so us UK drivers will struggle a bit anyway. The wheel is also very comfortable. Unlike the previous model where only the usual positions of the hands were rubber injected, it is now the entire wheel and I must say it is better for it. The software given is a disappointment, as has been raised many times. It's not the nature of the software, but the fact that it has no games or demos on which to test your new wheel like some of its competitors. The installation utility was pretty painless, installed on Windows XP. There is a driver update available from their website, but this does not affect performance and only seems to provide a better picture of the product in its Properties. Properties allows you to test certain modes of Force Feedback, such as an explosion, an accident or a jump. However, it's difficult to visualize what it is supposed to be representing, and would benefit from a small video of what was happening. Properties also advises you that the device requires no calibration, and will find its own range once you are using it. One feature I do like about this is the ability to make a Z axis and allow you to operate the accelerator and the brake at the same time. This is useful on occasion so you can stick your foot on the brake, rev the engine and blast off at high speed. However, some games don't get on with this very well and you might find you have to stick to a normal Y axis. I was testing the steering wh
eel on three games, Colin McRae Rally 2, Grand Prix 4 and Mobil 1 Rally Championship. Colin McRae has very good Force Feedback effects, such as jolting around on any rough surface, such as gravel, and banging around after jumps and going into walls (not that I do that often, you understand). The response and feel of this was very good, on all surfaces, and I was particularly impressed with the speed at which it switches between one surface and another. Grand Prix 4 provides much less Force Feedback, however does have a similar effect when travelling over gravel traps or grass. Mainly the benefit here was increasing and decreasing levels of resistance when travelling at higher speeds, and the wheel's instinct to jump to the centre. Mobil 1 Rally Championship had similar effects to Colin McRae, however not in the same way when driving over rough surfaces. Response time for all three was very good. The wheel is a very good and well-made bit of kit. People have complained in the past that it seems a bit flimsy and gear levers might have a tendency to fall off, but if it used properly (and by this I do not necessarily mean conservatively) it will give years of good service I am sure. It came with a 1 year warranty, but under EU law this will actually be 2 years as it is an electrical item. I would buy it again, and not hesitate to recommend against the two other models. For £80, you could do a lot worse.
As Guillemot's Force Feedback Joystick tapped on the shoulder of Microsofts superb SideWinder, it's Force Feedback wheel is Logitech's wheel Wingman with the same abitious look in it's eyes. The whell comes with weighty pedals, and Guillemot has made no bones about its Ferrari licence by emblazoning the logo across the front of the wheel. Attaching the wheel to your desk is easy thanks to the built-in clamp, and the pedals sit under your feet without slipping or sliding at all. Installation is quick and painless, and it's not long before you're immersed in full-on racing action, enjoying the powerfull 3lb motor within. The gear knob is a great addition to the wheel, although you will probably find yourself flying up and down the gears with the buttons mounted on the wheel. This could be one of the finest wheels on the market.
Ok, first things first. The software that is bundled with this software is excellent. You can program all 12 buttons to do whatever you want. However, the wheel is not quite the same calibre. It's not that the wheel is short of options for you to play a game - there's a D-pad, two easy-to-reach shift levers and programmable buttons! Shame neither of the features are that responsive. Also, although the wheel is confortable, you hands slip about during the latter parts of your stage-three rally! The force feedback is responsive enough to keep you jerking along with every move your car makes. The pedals too are very robust. The final feature would be the Ferrari endorsement! The icing on the cake!