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Microsoft Sidewinder Force Feedback Pro

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12 Reviews
  • Very expensive
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    12 Reviews
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      16.04.2002 04:41
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      • "Very expensive"

      Please note this review is not about the FORCE FEEDBACK PRO, BUT THE FORCE FEEDBACK 2 unfortunately the administrators in their infinite wisdom have placed it in the wrong category... There is definately something about writing these reviews that has be hooked and though this is not a particularly new product in turms of release date, it is still one of the latest models available and so is worthy of consideration. I originally wrote a review for this product for Watford Computers (Comp UK) but as they weren't organised enough to display it on their website I have adapted it for this site (which I must say is far better for the pupose... No brown nosing intended). Also I must inform you, that if you do decide to buy this item, then do so from Comp UK in Watford/Luton, because you will save yourself about £30. I don't know how they can afford to sell it so much cheaper than other mainstream retailers but they assure me that this is what the item should retail for. No! I don't work for them but I do believe that such significant savings should be passed on to others like myself who are constantly being exploited by unscrupulous corporations. Phew! Well, that off my chest, to the important business of product review. This is a very robust joystick. Well built, firm and quite weighty, generally giving the feeling of a good quality and expert engineering. The force feedback mechanism is excellent and certainly realistic insofar as I am able to determine from the entertainment similations, (not ever having really flown a comanche helicopter or driven a Star Wars Pod racer.) BUT! That is pretty much it as far as the pro's are concerned. The bad news is it is simply not an ergonomically designed device. It has a molded handgrip and there is no provision whatsoever for size adjustment, worse, it appears to be designed for someone with relatively small hands. The palm rest is so high I had to const
      antly reposition my hand to effectively control the buttons. My son who is 12 seems to have the ideally sized hand, so unfortunately I will have to relinquish it to him and purchase another brand. Regardless of how good the other attributes are, (and in all honesty they are good) if you are an adult with more than a mediocre sized palm you will soon be complaining to your doctor of RSI, finger cramps and strained tendons after anything more than half an hours use. Unfortunately this is a fairly significant, if sadly only single flaw as it makes the device unusable, and as this is the most expensive joystick on the market, it is unfortunate that they have made such a gross oversight. I am not saying that there are not people out there that this joystick fits so perfectly that they would like to bash me over the head with a blunt instrument for my comments, but having a few similarly minded friends evaluate this device and come to the same conclusion, I can only consider this to be a fair assesment. Also I wonder what pecentage of the retail gaming industry is composed of men who fit my phyical discription. I would think a significant percentage. I have always been a Saitek product endorser and even their much cheaper models are far move usable than this Microsoft device. Alas, I only purchased this model because at the time Saitek had not released a force feedback model of their own, a decision which I now thoroughly regret. Still my son now has a new joystick and I suppose quite soon, so will I?? Again!

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      24.05.2001 16:22
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      Microsoft wants to own the force feedback market in short order. And with the SideWinder Force Feedback Pro, it just might. The stick's all it's advertised to be: thrilling, jolting and an incredible addition to the gaming experience. It's almost impossible not to get absorbed, no matter what game you're playing. The jerking and kicking is a bit distracting the first few times you play, but it might actually make you a more skilled gamer. Instead of running headlong into danger, you'll start to consider other strategies first. (Well, maybe eventually. After all, it is a heck of a lot of fun to feel this thing wiggle around in your hand for the first few days.) With as many as 30 different tactile effects, the newness takes a long time to wear off. Chainsaws buzz. Machine guns recoil. Plasma guns shimmer, then jolt. Car engines idle smooth, while diesels rumble. Just when you start to get used to one effect, another comes along to wow you. Oftentimes, the effects will overlap. Best of all, there's absolutely no effect on gameplay. Neither sound nor video performance suffers at all when the stick is enabled. Installation of the SideWinder Force Feedback is a snap. Simply plug one cable into the game port on your sound card and the other into the nearest power outlet. Install the control's drivers and you're off. This puts it light years beyond CH's ForceFX. The stick actually looks a lot like any other SideWinder, only a little bigger. (You will have to clear off a fair amount of desk space to make room for this control.) The sculptured handgrip is quite comfortable, with all the buttons in easy to reach positions. An infrared beam acts as the safety switch, preventing the stick from rocking and rolling across your desk when you're not hanging on to it. Tight grips might be necessary at some point in the game, but it's actually a lot more fun to hold on loosely. That way, you get a bet
      ter idea of the strength of the internal motors. This sensor also helps the stick autocalibrate. When you grasp the control, it will automatically center itself. Drift during gameplay is not a problem. Gaming with the stick is a physical experience. You'll walk away from the computer a little more tired than when you began. You might even be the tiniest bit sore the first time you use it (if only because you'll undoubtedly sit transfixed for hours). Programming the control is actually a fairly easy experience -- even for novices. The SideWinder Profile Activator lets you develop macros for the stick's eight buttons, hat switch and throttle controls. Also, if the stick has a little too much force for you, you can reduce the kick -- or even turn it off should you wish. The SideWinder Force Feedback, which retails for roughly £60, ships with three titles: Activision's Interstate '76, LucasArts' Star Wars Shadow of the Empire: Battle of Hoth and Playmates Interactive Entertainment's MDK: Mission Laguna Beach. Of the three, Interstate '76 is the standout. A fun game to begin with, it evolves into an event with the SideWinder. You'll (literally) fight for control of the vehicle after driving through an oil slick. And you'll wince when a bullet or missile hits your car. MDK is a close second. As Kurt runs up and down corridors, the stick jolts slightly in time with his footsteps. Blasts from enemies are truly blasts. There's no mistaking when you're under fire. Shadows of the Empire is a bit disappointing, actually. The bundled version is a bit buggy (though instructions on how to end-run the flaw will be included in the documentation). And when you do get it up and running, it doesn't take full advantage of what the stick can do. It's a good game -- and it's a little better with the force feedback effects -- but there's a sense of lost potential as you play. O
      f course, the included software aren't the only games that will support the SideWinder Force Feedback. Microsoft lists 37 current or forthcoming titles that have taken the stick into consideration in their programming. Included among these is ABC Interactive's Monday Night Football '98, Ionon's Demon Star, Virgin's Sabre Ace: Conflict Over Korea and Microsoft's own hotly anticipated Baseball 3D. Look for that list to grow dramatically in future months, as well a number of patches for current games. The stick's not for wimpy machines, though. It requires a Pentium 75, with at least 8 MB of RAM. You'll need to have a sound card with a MIDI port and 7 MB of available hard disk space. Force feedback technology may not have sprung from the minds of Microsoft engineers, but they've sure put their stamp on it. The SideWinder Force Feedback is an incredible leap forward in gaming. Granted, at a suggested price of £60, it's an expensive purchase, but it's one you won't regret.

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        21.05.2001 23:35
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        With its high price, you'd expect this stick to be a high-end flight controller, but it has more in common with its lesser sibling, the SideWinder Precision Pro, than with high-end gear. As with the Precision Pro, it's an all-in-one controller with an integrated throttle, a twist handle (for rudder function), and the same nine buttons. The utility for programming the Force Feedback Pro is similar to Precision Pro's, but there's no force editor supplied, which seems a glaring omission. Support for the Force Feedback Pro has been somewhat mixed. It's been widely supported in action games such as Heavy Gear and driving games like Need for Speed SE II, but support in flight sims has been less prevalent. A few, like Sabre Ace, come to mind, but support on high-end sims has been lacking. Without force-feedback support, the Force Feedback Pro becomes a very expensive version of the Precision Pro. With better force-feedback support in DirectX, perhaps we'll see more extensive use of force feedback in future sims. Of course, in some cases force-feedback support does not make much sense. In an F-16 you don't feel much force, except for G-forces on your hand, because the controls are fly-by-wire. In a World War I or II sim, though, force feedback properly done could significantly add to the experience. The SideWinder Force Feedback Pro is a clean, solidly implemented force-feedback stick - it's just not a particularly realistic flight stick. And it's too bad that it thinks it's the only controller in the universe.

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          12.02.2001 19:10
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          As much as I like this joystick, I can't help but think £100 could have been spent on a more worthwhile cause. The idea of forces jerking your hand back at every shot or explosion seems a wonderful new side to gaming, but in my experience I have found that I have grown tired of the novelty. I have found that the forces do not seem accurate to the events in the games, and consequently become a large disadvantage, especially for online multiplayer games. I have used this joystick with several compatible games, and I have found that after the initial novelty has worn off, I would go back to playing the game without the forces turned on. Having pointed out what I think is wrong with this product I feel that I haven't really done it justice, as it is a very good joystick. It has 16 fully programmable buttons that can be linked to various combinations of keys and the 8-way hat is indeed an asset. Included is a throttle control that is reasonably responsive. To use this joystick efficiently, it is almost a necessity that you set it up to work most, if not all of the game so you can use two hands on it. One handed, it loses a lot of functionality, as you can't use the joysticks shift key, not to mention the desk space it takes up! All in all, this is a good product, and the force feedback is quite an innovation. However, beware the high price tag. You may end up paying a lot for something you don't use as much as you might expect.

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          03.02.2001 23:39

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          This was the first ever joystick that I got that hadn't come with a PC, all the joysticks I had used up to then were simple, sticky, analogue ones but when I got one of these I was thrilled. Force feedback is when something happening in the game makes the joystick move/vibrate/jerk around. It is great fun and works with almost any game that supports DirectX (this is most modern games). I would recommend this to any serious PC gamer or any one who is willing to spend alot of money on a joystick. It can be confusing since there are 8 buttons on the joystick and a shift button to make it 16. This, combined with the fact that the functions change from game to game can get very confusing and it takes a while to get the hang of it. The actual stick has three dimensions:- 1. Left/Right 2. Forewards/Backwards 3. A twist (left/right) There is also a throttle (albeit a small one) and an eight position POV (point of view) switch which is great for flight simulators.

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          18.11.2000 16:11
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          I got a Microsoft Precision Pro last year and it is absolutley frist class. It feels really comfortable in my hand, the buttons all seem to be positions, unlike on some joysticks which feel too small and feel designed for little kids. The only software that came with it was the drivers and a program for mapping the button profiles for individule games and you can down load updates from the website and more profiles. It is a great looking stick and dosnt feel like its going to break and though quite expensive at £50 it is worth it because it is so durable.

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            18.09.2000 06:23
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            I recently bought a Joystick, but not just any joystick it was a Microsoft Sidewinder Force Feedback Pro. It cost around £85, This is slightly more than I wanted to pay for a joystick But it is after all Microsoft, and as we all know Microsoft are renown for their quality. This particular joystick is force feedback which means it moves and vibrates when for example you are Playing a flight sim you come to land, you may often like me crash, when you crash it will move violently to add more realistic properties to the game. This joystick has a very strong force feedback compared to the others on the market. If a game has the ability to offer force feedback there is guarantee that this joystick will work If you are not convinced that this is a good joystick then this might, it is a plug 'n` play device, which means when you plug it in it will automatically work with no calibrating and installing, the only thing you might want to change is the strength of the "return to centre" and the "feedback". The joystck has a ton of buttons 8 buttons 1 throttle wheel and 1 "8 way hat switch" There are 8 more when you press the shift button. The joystick has very smooth and accurate movement giving the game player maximum ability to make precice movements. To stop the joystick moving when you are not holding it, it has an infra-red sensor to detect you hand.

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            07.07.2000 20:53

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            as you can guess from my mates mum, this thing vibrates, alot. on first look it seems a bit big but once you get it set up it seems less intruding. when playing gp500 it gives you a better felling of the game. for example, it gives a great sensation when you change gear, an shakes like a demon when you crash. another good game to play it with is mechwarrior 3. i absolutely love this game. the joystick makes you feel as if you are inside a huge warrior, shaking when you walk, shoot, and get shot at. all in all if you can put up with having an ugly beast of a joystick you will love it.

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            07.07.2000 17:05
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            An excellent product for the Force Feedback feature. Feedback adds great gaming dimension to the following tested programs: Mechwarrior3 (included), Jane's WWII Fighters and Rage's Incoming. Anemic performance with some older programs (e.g. Heavy Gear) may be due to the software. Adequate number of buttons and handle almost feels as good as my old Thrustmaster X-fighter. Does not perform well with racing games. For games not supporting Feedback, would rather use the Thrustmaster. Awkward having to switch drivers between both joysticks.

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            07.07.2000 06:55
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            Microsoft had a superb set of input game devices with the Sidewinder series, and it got even better when they introduced the Force Feedback Pro! I know it's been avaiable for a couple of years now, but I've had it since it came out and I'm still impressed today! Feedback on this joystick is superb and offers the ultimate gameplay! Used for racing games and flight sims, this adds further realism to your entertainment! I have used this product with Colin McCrae Rally, Xwing Alliance, Flight Sim and Combat Flight Sim and it's great! It's hard to explain how the joystick uses a different effect for ech type of force that you experience - but it works wonders. Through doing so it brings more realism. For instance - if you have a damage, the joystick will pull, if you stall the joystick will drag forward! It's unbelievable just what can be achieved with this Joystick! The fact that this is a Microsoft product, it is plug 'n play compatable, and it has variable settings and a programable control area makes this product all the more appealing! There are now lots of Force Feedback Joysticks avaiable - but after testing and comparison to the Force Feedback Pro, I'd say that it is by far the best avaiable and well worth it if you can afford it!

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              24.06.2000 00:34

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              Yes this joystick is in a class of its own. Long gone are those cheap plastic devices that nerds use to control games instead of the standard keyboard! If you play flight simulators this is a must have! If you play any other types of game this is still well worth it. I love the positioning of the buttons some how they feel as though they have been placed in the perfect place making the joystick a league above all others. It also has force feedback which means you feel the hits when something explodes etc. It is well worth getting even though a lot of games arn't compatible.

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              12.06.2000 20:40
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              I recently decided to treat myself and bought this rather luxerious joystick. At close to £100, it wasn't cheap but the quality of it is suberb. In case you didn't realise, this joystick supports force feedback, which adds realism to games by moving, shaking or jolting at the appropiate times. For example firing a machine gun will cause it to shake rapidly. This will only work on games specificly programmed to work like this, which are rapidly growing in number (they are most commonly found in driving or flying games). The stick itself has a myriad of buttons. There are 8 buttons which double to 16 when used with the shift button. There is also a throttle wheel and an 8-way hat switch. It has essentially four axes, the usually x and y axis, plus a third twisting action (twisting the handle) and the throttle, which should be more than adequate for any game. This joystick uses a very accurate "laser eye" technology which means pinpoint positioning. The servo motors used to create the forces are also reliable and very strong, they can give you quite a push when required. To stop the stick shaking wildly when you are not holding it, a small beam (infra-red I believe) is sent down the front of the handle, and so can "see" when you are holding it. This joystick is very high quality, with a variable "return to centre" tension (software controlled) and a lovely smooth action from the motors. The only problem is it has quite a large footprint, you need quite a big space on your desk to fit it in. Also it needs to be plugged in because of the force-feedback. The handle is also quite big, suiting the larger hand although small hands can easily cope. The Sidewinder software provided is top class and allows you to manage your joystick very well, and customise the controls in games. I got Urban Assault free with the stick, which is another bonus as this is an excellent real time strategy game. Without the force-feedback this stick is very hig
              h quality, but with it it becomes an amazing joystick and is thoroughly recommended.

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          • Product Details

            First there was sight. Then there was sound. Then Microsoft revolutionized the gaming industry with dynamic force feedback technology and earned PC Gamer's Editor's Choice Award.

            Microsoft SideWinder Force Feedback Pro is the best-selling 16-bit on-stick processor - delivering realistic, high-fidelity forces faster. Feel true-to-life feedback - from subtle sensations to raw power forces. Experience multiple forces simultaneously. Even feel which direction the forces come from. Only Microsoft force feedback technology puts you right inside the game so you can react quickly and decisively to win. Microsoft has changed the face of gaming forever. SideWinder Force Feedback Pro comes with two great games Microsoft Urban Assault (full game included) and 3 months of free Internet gaming with Microsoft Fighter Ace Online multiplayer game. Move with precision. The infrared beam in Force Feedback Pro signals your every move. Rely on Force Feedback Pro. A solid circuit board with minimal connectors makes Force Feedback dependable. Play with accuracy. A built-in digital-optical "camera" reads your exact position. Get faster responses. Replacing analog potentiometers with Microsoft digital-optical technology means more precise translations of your games.