First, some background: I have been looking at wheel options for driving games and, specifically, Forza Horizon 2 for a little while now, and I’m definitely intrigued by the much more expensive options.
I’m not opposed to spending a lot on a good gaming accessory once I know it’s something I’ll enjoy. As a frame of reference, after realizing how much more I was drumming in Rock Band, as opposed to playing any other instruments (and having replaced the stock drum kit once already), I purchased the ION drum kit.
But while interested in a wheel, I just wasn’t sure I’d really be overly “wowed” by it. I’ve always been content driving with the standard controllers.
Having said that, while $100 certainly isn’t trivial, it seemed like a good entry-level price point to me for this type of accessory.
And going in, I knew I wasn’t going to get exactly the same level of performance out of the wheel, but I felt it would at least let me know whether I cared enough about playing the game with it to justify upgrading at some point.
Out of the box:
Ridiculously easy to set up. Clamped it to a table, plugged it in. The Xbox One and Forza immediately recognized it and I was *almost* good to go. That *almost,* however, is my first major gripe about this controller. I have a passkey set up on my account and it requires the joystick/thumpad to enter. The steering wheel tries to be clever and disguise the thumbpad as an “engine start” button. The result makes it difficult to use and next to useless. I had a number of failed passkey attempts before I had to fire up the normal controller to enter it.
I’d honestly prefer to forgo the clever aesthetics for a more user-friendly pad.
Playing the game:
It definitely does add a cool, visceral feeling to the game to be able to press on the gas pedal and control the vehicle with a steering wheel.
It also takes much more getting used to. Where I have trained myself to feather the gas/brake as necessary over years of standard controller-based driving, I found it was VERY easy to be too heavy with the gas with this controller. Much spinning out was to be had initially.
Other than one gripe with the wheel, I found it to be very responsive. Although that gripe is a bit troublesome. Almost immediately I found that the wheel has a small, but significant “dead” spot at center. This makes subtle steering corrections extremely difficult. Trying to avoid an oncoming car to score some “near miss” points? Good luck. Whereas the thumb controller reacts pretty much instantly, with this wheel I often found myself either not moving the car left/right at all, or over-steering whenever I wanted to make a minor correction.
The best way I can describe it is how some older cars have somewhat mushy steering.
It’s a quirk I have to get used to and I can’t emphasize enough that I didn’t really expect perfect performance out of a product that is, essentially, entry level. I’m assuming the mushy steering is just the nature of the bungee resistance system and I would expect the more expensive motor driven wheels to NOT have this dead spot sensation.
At the risk of this review coming off as negative, that isn’t how I intend it. The goofy control of the thumbpad and the small dead spot in the steering really are the only two complaints I have so far. And even so, I found the wheel tremendously fun to use and it really does add a new dimension to the game.
For a casual fan of driving games, or someone who, like me, isn’t sure they’ll really get anything out of a steering wheel accessory, I think this is a fantastic product and I’m not disappointed.