I bought my Sidewinder forced feedback Wheel just after christmas as a belated pressie for my hubby.Having been unable to manage one in time fro christmas I took advantage of the post crimbo sales and went shopping for his new toy. ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ What is it? It's a steering wheel!! But not just any steering wheel.It comes with foot pedals and most importantly it has surprise,surprise...forced feedback!! In other words it actually feels as though you are driving down the road.You feel the lumps bumps,tyres sliding and gravel crunching under the wheels,just as you would if you were driving a real car. The wheel runs on USB and is plug and play. ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ Why would I want one? Quite apart from the fact it feels as I said,like driving a real car,it is very responsive and makes for great gaming when it comes to any racing games such as Colin McCrae Rally,Toca Racing and Ford racing.My Wheel came with Monster Truck Madness 2,which is also heaps of fun on this Wheel. ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ Technical info. System requirements - Direct x 7 or above (included) Microsoft personal computor with P166 Mhz or higher processor and USB port Microsoft windows 98+ operating system 16 MB RAM 10 MB available h/drive space Quad-speed CD-ROM drive Super VGA,256-colour monitor Microsoft mouse or equivalent pointing device Internet access may be require for certain games ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ What did I think? This is by far the best wheel I have used.The game play has a totally realistic feel,and improves my gaming capabilities considerably.It is comfortable to use and compatable with all the racing games I have tried out so far,although games that do not support forced feedback will only be playable as a normal wheel would.No support,no lumps bumps and rumbles.It fastens securely ont
o my computor desk via its incorperated clamps,and can be used on desks of varying thicknesses,and it is robust. ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ Price. Just before christmas the price of this was around £99,however I picked mine up in the sales for a more reasonable £79.99. I purchased mine from PC World (well,at least I admitted it,and they were the cheapest for once).It is also available from many other outlets including Toys R Us,Games world,and many online stores,all for a similar price. ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ Word of warning. One thing the box,instructions or software won't tell you is that the drivers supplied are only compatible with Windows 95,98 or ME,if you have any other windows then you'll need to go to the Microsoft site and download the latest drivers for the later windows. ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ Summary. If you like racing games and play them alot,then go grab one.This is a great wheel and in my opinion would be hard to better. *** Thanks for reading ***
Fed up with spinning off the track because you had to use your digital controller only allowing you full lock left or straight on. This is not driving but surely a punishment for buying a driving simulator and playing it with a keyboard. The answer you need a steering wheel. The next question? Which one do I buy? Having owned a the Microsoft Force Feedback Wheel for almost a year now and experiencing no problems in reliability and an immeasurable increase in the gameplay and enjoyment from any racing simulator I have played on my PC I would urge to buy this one. The features of this steering wheel are: -Analogue accelerator and brake pedals -Analogue steering wheel -2 gearshift paddles either side of the steering wheel. -6 function buttons -The all important force feedback option I have used the wheel with the PC games Grand Prix 3, Nascar 2001 and Colin McRae. On all these games the effect of the wheel is to give you as close to the sense of actually being in the cockpit as possible while sitting at a desk. The force feedback option allows you to feel bumps in the rode crashes spins and wheels locking. The wheel takes only a small time to get used to and is extremely comfortable with rubber grips where your hands go. And the pedals are fine and comfortable as well. Within no time you will be able to improve all of your fastest times i guarantee you. The only question you need to ask now is am I willing to pay eighty to one hundred pounds for this pleasure? For myself I found it well worth the money and when you think how long this will last you and how many games it will have a good effect on then I would suggest you get one. However if you don’t really play your driving games that much or really enjoy them then your probably better off saving your money for a shoot ‘em up.
For those of us who are attracted by products from the "meatier" end of the PC racing game spectrum (and my personal favourite, Grand Prix Legends (GPL), is certainly no arcade thrash), attempting to compete effectively by means of the keyboard is unthinkable. Joypads, if anything, are worse, and although a decent analogue joystick can bring some considerable success in the hands of a skilled driver, the most satisfactory solution by far is to invest in a good quality steering wheel. And I do mean "invest". Although there are one or two reasonably good wheels available for around the £50 mark (Microsoft's own Precision Wheel, for example), most of what's available at that price level is aimed at the PlayStation generation, and frankly is often worse than the aforementioned joystick. No, if you're serious about your sim racing, you should be budgeting at around £100. (There are specialist hand-built wheels - from Thomson, for example - that cost a good deal more than this, but these are overkill unless you are the mythical "alien" [GPL slang for a very top driver]). Rather annoyingly for those of us who delight in their misfortunes, Microsoft have a genuinely good reputation in the peripherals department, and consistently churn out high quality bits of kit. They generally get it right first time, too - the Microsoft Sidewinder Force Feedback Wheel (hereafter abbreviated to MSFF, you'll be relieved to learn) was one of the first useable force feedback wheels and, unlike the products of its competitors in this price bracket (Logitech and Guillemot, for example), the design remains largely unchanged after several years on the shelves. About that design, then. After opening the cardboard box and fighting your way through the polystyrene, you will (should!) find four things: the wheel unit itself, a set of pedals, a power supply and a driver CD. The muted black and grey design of the wheel itself loo
ks smart, if not particularly thrilling, and like all the best gadgets has lots of buttons - six small ones on the front for thumb operation, and two large F1 car-style paddles on the rear. There's also a nice big button labelled "FORCE", which as might be expected is used to toggle force feedback on and off. Of course, it won't do a great deal yet as you haven't plugged it in, have you? Eh? EH? So, lug it over to your PC desk (nice and heavy, isn't it? Usually a good sign, that) and attach it by means of the simple clamp and screw mechanism integrated into the base unit. The wheel will happily fit a surprisingly large range of desks (up to around 2 inches thick) and - most important, this - will stay where you put it. The quick-release lever provided makes taking the thing off (if you really *have* to do some work...) a doddle. Okay, now scrabble around the back of the wheel to find the socket for the pedals. These look a little plasticky at first glance, but in fact they're pretty strong, and very comfortable with excellent weighting. The pedals have a longer travel than many rival manufacturers' pedals, which allows for more accurate car control - with this in mind, it's not a good idea to drive in outdoor shoes, or in footwear with little grip. Some people like thin moccasins, some grippy "Totes Toasties" socks, and some (like me) prefer to drive barefoot. What matters is that you feel in control of the car. The next step - hooking the MSFF up to the mains - differs slightly according to whether you've got hold of the gameport or USB version. If at all possible, I strongly recommend the USB variety, as setting up is simplicity itself - plug in the transformer to the mains, then "hotplug" the USB connector into the PC's USB port (which is to say sticking it in with the power *on*). Windows should detect it automatically, and all you have to do then is follow the instructi
ons on the screen. The gameport version requires a bit more messing around behind your PC's case (though you won't need to open it), but it's hardly purgatory. A great, though obvious, advantage of Microsoft peripherals is their compatibility with Windows, and this shows itself with the MSFF. I haven't yet met a game released in the "force feedback era" that refuses to co-operate with the wheel. In fact, in many cases, the game will be able to detect the presence of the MSFF automatically, and set up the controller appropriately. This can save a fair amount of time, though of course if (like me) you have funny ideas about which buttons to use for changing gear, you'll still need to change those settings manually. In some games, of course, there won't be any predefined setups... and as I just mentioned, some people prefer to use their own settings. This necessitates some way of storing predefined... er... definitions for each game, to save going through the whole rigmarole on every occasion. The MSFF accomplishes this by means of "profiles" - for each game, you can create a small configuration file which stores your preferences for which button does what (you can define macros, to allow one button to replace a string of keystrokes), the intensity of the force feedback (though many newer programs have an in-game menu for this), and - crucially - whether you want to use "combined" or "separate" pedals. Any simulation worth its salt should support "separate" pedals (often referred to as "split-axis"), which means that the brake and accelerator pedals are handled separately, allowing you to balance the throttle through corners for precise handling. And now we arrive at the $64,000 question: how does the thing *drive*? Well, as many of you will know, I don't drive in real life, so I can only compare it to other sim wheels, but on that score my answer is: very
well indeed. It's a good size, with a comfortable grip, and the buttons are well placed (at least for adults - children might find it a bit of a stretch). The pedals, as I said, have excellent feel, and the steering itself, while perhaps seeming a little rough when tested in the Windows Control Panel, is just right in actual racing conditions - the roughness, rather paradoxically, contributing to an accurate action, rather as the bobbles on a curling sheet help the stones to run smoothly over the ice. (Yes, the curling reference is completely gratuitous, but who cares? Yay GBR!) All this quality would be no use, though, if it didn't actually result in better driving. Consequently, I carried out a quick head-to-head test (against my perfectly adequate MS joystick), with the help of (guess what?) Grand Prix Legends. I didn't drive absolutely flat out, but at what felt like a comfortably fast pace over 5 laps, as I considered that this had more relevance to racing conditions. I selected two circuits - Monza (shortish, flat, few corners - a bit of a "point and squirt" track) and Spa (long and sweeping, with many gradients and fast, challenging bends - a flowing rhythm is essential here). In each case, I drove the most suitable car for the circuit (Lotus for Monza; Eagle for Spa). Here's how things turned out: Monza: Stick 5-lap ave 1:31.8; MSFF 5-lap ave 1:29.5 Spa: Stick 5-lap ave 3:28.0; MSFF 5-lap ave 3:20.2 As you can see, the wheel made a sizeable difference - in percentage terms, I was driving 2.5% faster at Monza and 3.75% faster at Spa. That sort of difference can make or break a race. What the bare statistics don't show is that the wheel also felt far more realistic than the stick - the feeling of being "in" the car was far more convincing with the MSFF. Any drawbacks, then? Not many, to be honest. As far as I know, the pedal units aren't available separately, so if a
spring goes you'll have to mend it yourself or buy a whole new wheel unless you succeed in sweet-talking the Microsoft support staff. And there are patchy reports of a slight performance hit in certain games (of the order of a few percent), especially with the gameport version. This isn't really noticeable on recent computers, though. That's about all I can think of to say against the MSFF wheel: it's strong, sturdy, comfortable to use for long periods, highly compatible and effective in terms of upping your speed; and surely one can't ask for much more than that. If you're in the market for a £100 steering wheel, you could do a great deal worse than this.
This is one of the greatest things I've bought for my PC. After playing with this wheel I don't know how I could have played with a keyboard. It's like no other wheel I have ever used before. I wish I could use this bad boy in my car. There are so many aspects about this wheel that turns me on. The force feedback is great, although not as powerful, but pretty close, as an arcade wheel, but what do you expect when its right in your own home. I must say though, of course it's not going to be as powerful as an arcade wheel, but this thing has some jump and jerk to it. You better hold on because you're in for a ride. I love the option of turning the force on and off at anytime. It's nice to take a breather for a while. After a while, the force is so realistic, that when you're flying through a desert, you forearms begin to get tired. I mean if you were driving in the desert at a hundred miles an hour, wouldn't you be a bit beat up. Just the way it rumbles when the car reaches top speed and you feel it resisting as you go round the corner. All in all, this is a nice option Microsoft included for people like me who have just had enough with the shake. Another thing is the 2 triggers on the back of the wheel are great for shifting gears. Now if you think about it, the wheel is configured like a wheel in a sports car. It has the gear shifter behind the wheel, so you never have to drive with only one hand. The location of these buttons allow me to make clean, smooth, and accurate shifts at times where I need to pull ahead in the pack. Oh yeah, and the pedals, oh the pedals, are absolutely great; perfect for that "heel toe" action. Now you can't get any better than that. It's equivalent to driving a real car. The pedals aren't too small or too large and would fit anyones foot. Also, the pedals have about the same resistance of a cars pedal, but if you want to change that you can. After all these things Microsoft actually did right they also made it comfortable with nice feeling rubber grips on the wheel. My hand never slides around wheel I am screaming around a turn at 110 miles per hour. The rubber grip is made of some synthentic rubber which molds to your hand! I usually don't think much of Microsoft products, but this time I'll have to admit this wheel is pretty good. Probably the best, and most important thing about this wheel is that it is compatible with all racing games (for the most part). To active the wheel is very easy to understand and is located in the manual. And as I said previously, this totally changes the gameplay by turning a racing game into real life. The instructions and manual were top notch when trying to install the wheel. Everything was laid out perfectly and was basically self-explanitory. It helped me finding the correct driver to install the wheel and told me how to get the wheel to work with my games. Overall, this is the best wheel I've laid my hands on and if you were skeptical on buying this, believe me it is worth it. Price paid : £100 from dabs.com
You may have read my review on the non-force feedback version of this wheel. No, I'm not bluffing this review, I now have this wheel instead. I was mightily impressed with the non force version with its impressive range of features and build quality. With this force feedback version you're getting everything that was good about the previous version with added rumble! This wheel still has 8 buttons, excellent pedals, an innovative desk clamping system and wheel performance to die for. The force feedback? Oooh...you will not be disappointed. You can modify the forces within the excellent (as usual) sidewinder software. You can alter the 'return to centre' tension and the level of force feedback (3 choices). Here you can even sample some of the possible responses by pushing the various buttons on the wheel so you can make the forces as heavy or light as you wish. Of course if you want you can even turn the forces completely off and this is done via a button on the centre of the wheel. So far the only game to really make clever use of the force feedback option in a driving game is Grand Prix 3. Let me tell you, having played this game with the non-force wheel is a totally different experience to playing with the forces switched on. When you lose control the steering goes light, crash and it goes mad, go around a corner and it actually fights against your movements. It really is incredible, take my word for it. The big downside of course is the price, cheapest you will find is around £90 but this is a serious piece of kit and really is worth the money. You'll need a USB port to plug it in and of course this wheel needs its own power supply (adaptor supplied). As an added bonus Monster Truck Madness 2 is included to show off the force feedback but the game itself is pretty lame, but hey, it's free. I believe if you're a driving fan, don&
#39;t settle for anything less than this wheel. It is incredible although pricey.
The Microsoft Force FeedBack Wheel is a wonderful product, I intially bought the Thrustmaster Force FeedBack Wheel, but this developed a fault and I returned it in exchange for the Microsoft Product, I can only say that I am very glad it did develop a fault as the Microsoft Product is far superior. The Handling is superb, the precison is excellent and the feedback effects are unsurpassed by any product on the market. The Wheel even came bundled with 2 games which made it excellent value for money. Anybody that enjoys any sort of racing game should buy this product.