The Logitech Driving Force GT PS3 Wheel is an excellent driving wheel with a good build quality at a solid price point that will satisfy any casual or avid racer. Unfortunately not every game makes correct or full use of driving wheels, but the ones that do (e.g. Gran Turismo 5) create a surreal driving experience that will satisfy any driving fan.
For the purist that must reproduce the true racing experience in his or her house, we would still suggest the Logitech G25 (UPDATE: Now the Logitech G27); it is, however, more than twice the price of the Driving Force GT.
Update #2: For anyone coming to this review for settings for games using this wheel, reader Ricardo below has been kind enough to post optimized Force Feedback settings for GRID, GRID 2, Need for Speed Shift and F1 2010.
- What’s in the Box?
- Hooking it all Up
- Build Quality
- Driving Experience
- Areas of Improvement
It’s a good sized box, about the size of a Logitech 2.1 PC speaker package. As shown on the box there was an instruction booklet, pedals and wheel (with integrated shifter).
What I was really surprised to find in the box, and it might have been a toss-in for some promotion because I don’t see it mentioned on Logitech’s site, was a full copy of Gran Turismo 5: Prologue. If you already have it, then use this copy (if you get one) as a gift I suppose. If you didn’t have a copy, you will be so freaking happy they included one, it does the wheel justice while other games don’t:
After spending time with this wheel and especially Gran Turismo 5, I would have to say that you cannot review a driving wheel, or at least this driving wheel, without having a copy of Gran Turismo 5 to test with. The experience is so much better with GT than it is with other “arcade” racers that it’s a night-and-day difference. More on that later though under “Driving Experience“.
For anyone that has used a force-feedback wheel in the past 10 years, I think the form factor of these things has always been the same. A life-sized steering wheel attached to a tapered base that is fastened to a table or desk of some kind using clamps or grips of some kind; this is very similar:
As you can see the steering wheel reproduces all of the 17 or so buttons you find on a standard PS3 controller. The red wheel and “enter” button on the bottom right can be used for navigation and confirmation as well as in-game adjustments for games that support it (like Gran Turismo 5).
I’m not sure what the split-circle +/- does on the bottom left, I never got it to really do anything in any games.
In addition to the full-sized wheel the base unit includes an integrated shifter. The shifter doesn’t have much play up or down as it behaves more like those auto-shifters (flappers) you find on some higher end cars that let you drive in automatic or shift automatically if you want. It just clicks up or down as you are driving and a spring re-centers it when you let go. It doesn’t click “up” or “down” into position like a gear shifter, it’s more of a toggle action.
Of course you have your pedal plate. I’m a size 11.5″ and the plate felt like a nice size, sturdy, good resistence on the brake and gas and my foot never fell off it or slipped off. It’s a perfect size.
I did find that the pedals stood upright a bit too vertical, so sitting in a chair and playing, my foot was always cocked up when I was off the gas or break. This made switching from gas to brake with 1 foot uneasy for me and I ended up driving with both feet instead; I just couldn’t flip from gas and then cock my foot up enough to clear the brake as I moved it over to the left to push it back down. What ended up happening is that the side of my foot would hit the break as I moved my foot to the left and push the whole pedal pad over.
I would also point out that the pedal pad would be perfect on carpet because it integrates a retractable spike-strip on the bottom of it that can click out, and dig into the carpet. On hard/wood floors like I have, it was moving around a little bit, so I secured it by pushing it up against the table you see in the picture above. I believe there are little rubber feet on it but they don’t do as good a job stopping it from moving as the carpet-spike-strip would if it was on carpet.
Keep that in mind if you are on a hard floor and don’t have a way to secure it in place, I’m sure putting it on a mat on your hard floor would work fine (like a yoga mat) or something else that will cause it to stay put.
As with all racing wheels since the dawn of mankind, you fasten the wheel base that everything hooks to, to a table or desk using clamps that tighten to hold it in place:
If you don’t have a table or desk that this can be fastened to, you will need to get one if you plan on using this. I lucked out in that our coffee table had a lip on it that I could hook to, but I have a friend that has a low coffee table that he hooked the wheel to that provides a lack-luster driving experience as he is bent over the wheel.
Someone else that came over to try the wheel out didn’t have a coffee table at all in front of his TV and was wondering how he would use it; my only comment to him is that he couldn’t unless he had something to hook it to.
The base unit is front-heavy with the steering wheel; meaning if you didn’t secure it to the table, it would happily fall steering-wheel-first off the table onto the ground. You can’t just set it on something and use it; it needs to be clamped down.
Also you will want it attached to something sturdy because you can get to fighting with the force-feedback and turning the wheel and moving quite a bit while racing. This could move whatever you have the wheel attached to in more vibrant racing moments; something I did with our coffee table because it has wheels on it.
For example, if you tried to hook this to a bar stool or something, I don’t think that would work out really well.
After getting the base-unit in place, everything plugs to it into sockets in the back of the base-unit, right behind the shifter. You will plug in:
- Power Adapter
- Pedal Plate
The wire length between all 3 of these things is pretty liberal, so unless you are trying to spread yourself across your entire living room you should be OK.
The shortest connection is from the pedal plate to the wheel (understandably, since the two will always be near each other) and uses what looks like an old-school COM port connection.
In what I consider the most important connection, the base-unit to the PS3, Logitech was pretty generous. You have a 10′ or 11′ USB cable to connect to your PS3. In the picture above I am about 10′ from the PS3 and that is about as far away as I am going to get without a USB extender.
The power adapter also had a generous lead on it, which I plugged into the wall behind me, about a 5′ run total and there was still plenty of slack on that cable.
For those curious, the power adapter is one of those “huge bricks that I have to plug in and will cover a bunch of other plugs” types. The prongs themselves are set high enough on the brick though, that if you are plugging into a wall socket, you can use the top or bottom socket without blocking the other one.
If you are using it on a power strip, I’d suggest making it the last plug off the power strip so it hangs off and doesn’t block other plugs cause it will. It’s a bit bigger than a deck of cards or there-abouts in size.
My gut reaction out of the box was “meh” honestly. I have used force-feedback wheels in the past and only once can I remember being impressed with the non-plastic build quality.
However, after using the wheel for a while and playing quite a few games with it, I came to find the build quality above-average. The wheel is solid feeling, it’s got a leather-wrap feel to it, the force-feedback is dynamic and consistent and the pedals were sturdy and performed well. If you want to turn the force-feedback up, the wheel can really wrestle with you, so if you like a powerful experience, you can certainly get it with this wheel.
The pedals didn’t feel amazing to me out of the box, but playing with them I didn’t have any complaints, besides the comment above about how vertical the pedals stand.
The gas is easy to depress but sping-loaded in a firm fashion to make it somewhat hard to push down with your hands. And the brake is firmly spring loaded, but in a smooth, shock-absorber way that makes it satisfying to use and feels more like a real car.
The shifter does feel a little rinky-dink because it’s just a plastic knob on a metal pole that is attached to a spring-loaded click-shift mechanism. If you want that tactile feedback, you’ll want to get the Logitech G25 Racing Wheel.
If you are a build-quality nut and don’t mind paying for you, you really should be looking at the Logitech G25 Racing Wheel; that’s more of a direct race-car replica, complete with metal parts, full shifter, clutch, etc. But it’s more than twice the price of this wheel (just a warning).
First a list of the games we tried (in alphabetical order):
- Burnout Paradise
- Gran Turismo 5: Prologue
- MotorStorm (Doesn’t support the pedals, but the steering sorta works)
- Nascar ’09
The “awesomeness” of this wheel (and I imagine all racing wheels) depends 100%, completely on how well the game you are playing implements it.
Let that above statement sink in… you could spent $900 on a wheel, and if the game you are playing doesn’t have a tuned wheel experience, you will likely go back to using a controller.
Gran Turismo 5 is excellent, Grid and Dirt are… different; even though there are a ton of adjustments for the wheel, I wasn’t able to find a combination of settings for those two games that made them playable for me with the wheel… there is a certain amount of arcadey lag that occurs between the wheel and what your car does that screws you up in tight spots, sharp turns, etc.
You spend a lot of time spinning out and then spinning out more as you try and get straightened out on the track.
Even though you can tweak-out the settings for certain games to get decent results (NOTE: Pay attention to ‘linearity’ and the force of the feedback), I found that going in a straight line was *really* hard because of how the force-feedback plays into the driving.
For example, in Dirt, I set the linearity to 0.00 and turned the force down to about half power. When you are trying to go in a straight line, what happens is because there is no power-steering assist in the game, the wheel tries to feed you back the tugs and pulls that the tires would issue from the force in the pavement, your exact direction, etc.
The problem is that there is a hair of a lag, so while you are trying to hold the wheel straight, the wheel is forcing left and right turns to you, and if you are trying to react to them, you end up moving your car back and forth on the track which builds and builds until you eventually slam into a wall, spin out or loose control totally.
I found that I turned the Force Feedback in these games to the lowest setting so it almost didn’t feedback at all, than I did better. It does still take some learning to get used to how each game treats the feedback though. It’s not a “What you See is What You Get” situation with any game I tried except Gran Turismo 5.
Your mileage may vary and your tolerance may vary, but this was a comment another friend of mine with the Logitech G25 Racing Wheel echoed about those two games as well. Some of the bad controls can lead to road-rage though if you are expecting a perfect-simulation-experience from all games:
I tried this wheel out, along with my wife, our friends and their children. I didn’t see anyone “not get it”, it’s pretty straight forward and accessible to anyone that has driven before. Although the children seemed to pick it up no problem and like the idea that they were racing “for real”.
While the wheel does expand the experience of driving, especially if you stick yourself in “first person” perspective in the cockpit of the cars of some of these games, bad response from some games can ruin that experience just as fast.
After some time with this wheel and quite a few titles, I think I’ve come to the conclusion that if you are a Gran Turismo fan/junkie, and plan on getting it, the Logitech GT racing wheel or one of Logitech’s others is a must-get along with the game.
If you just like racing games, especially more arcadey ones, you should probably skip getting a force-feedback wheel. The wheels themselves are excellent, but they are only as good as their weakest link. If the game you are playing waasn’t tuned for the wheel you are just going to end up going back to the default PS3 controller after a while anyway so you can win races.
It’s unfortunate, but with a lot of the problem titles, I didn’t find playing with the 20 settings or so for force-feedback in most of them helped at all. Some I couldn’t even see a difference between a 1/10 or a 10/10 “Force Feedback” setting.
As with all our reviews, we don’t like to criticize without providing suggestions on how to improve the product, so here are our suggestions for the Logitech Driving Force GT PS3 Wheel:
- Any of the following individually (realizing that all of them together would increase the price too high):
- A clutch on the pedal pad
- Gear flippers on the wheel for easy shifting (See Update #1)
- A Shifter that included two well-defined gears and not the small-range-of-motion up/down click-shifter that is on there now so you feel cooler throwing it into gears
- Wireless connection to the PS3 (Is that possible? I don’t know how much data is being transfered from the wheel to the PS3)
- A chart or guide that has “Best suggested settings” for the most popular driving games. You can spend a lot of time messing with the Force Feedback settings for different driving games. It would be nice to have “recommended” settings out of the box since the sampling of popular driving games on the PS3 is so small, it shouldn’t be hard to do this.
- MINOR: Easier to reach Start button (for pausing) on the wheel. The phone rang while I was playing a few times and I fumbled and crashed 3 times trying to pause the game. I can’t imagine getting interrupted while driving is an uncommon thing for a video game. Would have been nice.
- SUPER-MINOR: Working horn button, there is a horn button in the middle, and it lights up and depresses, but none of the games I tried it on did anything. This is super minor, but I like honking a lot before smashing into people.
Update #1: As Dave correctly pointed out, there actually are gear flippers/paddles on the back side of the wheel at 10 and 2 positions, you have to reach your fingers around the wheel and tap the back of the wheel to feel them, they are raised out a bit and easy to tap. The reason I never found them is because when I thought of paddles I just assumed they would stick out like ears.