I won't be able to drive my Saturn ever again.
As real as it gets without a sponsor
How glad I am that I reviewed Dirt 2 yesterday? I'm enormously happy that I reviewed one of the best racing games I've experienced in the last few years. Dirt 2 was the perfect test dummy for Logitech's new racing wheel the G27.
The first thing you notice when you break out the G27 is how heavy it is. Thanks to stainless steel structure on the wheel and pedals, and thanks for the dual-motor force feedback mechanism inside, you know before you even hook this thing up that it means business. The design of the wheel and pedals is nothing short of professional. You can picture this thing attached to an actual racing vehicle (maybe a nice Rally car). Sure the body that houses the dual-motor is hard plastic, but that doesn't much matter.
Setting it up
The set-up was incredibly simple. Though I'm not equipped with a racing area in my home, I used my kitchen table as a test area. I moved our 37" LCD onto the table and quickly (under 15 minutes) had the G27 set-up and ready to go. The set comes in three parts:
- Stick shift
- Racing Wheel
The pedals are simple, as they can lie comfortably on a tile surface or a carpet surface. They have small rubber pads on the bottom that grip tile or non-carpet areas. There are grips in the front of the pedals (on the bottom) that dig into any carpet. Between the two ways, I think the carpet area certainly works better. Regretfully, I was using tile so when I used the pedals to hard they would slide.
The racing wheel portion of the G27 is probably the most flexible when it comes to the set-up process. There are two plastic vice-like grips to the left and right. The body sat comfortably on the table, while the vice gripped the bottom of the table (imagine someone pinching you; same concept). On the left/right top of the body there are two round buttons that pop up and actually help to secure the vice under the table. Once you tighten those, they almost easily lock for you. The problem I had here is that they didn't lock immediately. It took maybe 30 seconds to finally get them locked down (30 seconds for both), but they certainly secured tightly once locked.
Probably the most difficult piece out of the bunch was the stick shift. It grips like the Racing Wheel, but with one addition: a large round screw-like piece that pushes underneath the logitech logo. The two vice grips by the actual stick are positioned oddly. For example, they don't grip the table because they're too short. I have about a three-to-five inch deep table lip, so it should have been enough; regretfully it wasn't. I had to depend on the round screw to secure the device and it certainly didn't do the job very well. This is the only knock I have about the device. Of course, I'm sure it wasn't completely made for a kitchen table either, but still it should have some flexibility to it.
Using the device
The wheel is to die for. Its force feedback is unrivaled. While I was playing Dirt 2 I was playing on and off-road. The wheel compensates for both environments. While on the Morocco stage, which is mostly dirt, I could feel the rocks and dirt on the road. The wheel understands and shakes with the road. When I slid off the road into the rough terrain it rumbled like crazy. What's even more impressive is that the wheel can detect when you're gaining speed. The wheel's turning abilities goes from really loose to really tight. Why is that impressive? The change in tightness is what actually happens in a real vehicle. For example, say you were going 120mph on the road being chased by the police because you didn't feel like stopping for a traffic ticket, it would be the same feeling (completely hypothetical). What's even cooler about this is how comfortable the wheel was after 20+ races. The grips on the wheel are padded well, they deal with sweaty palms extremely well and are simply comfortable. Also, the wheel has some nice shifters with proper clicks (and properly positioned shifters) behind the wheel. They felt natural being there and worked really well. Finally, there are LED indicators that give you a visual representation of RPMs. To tell you the truth, I never watched them while I was driving; too busy driving.
For the stick shift, I loved it. Not only is it comfortable, but it works really well as you clearly know what gear you're in by touch. In addition to this, the buttons on the back part of the stick shift are perfectly placed. They are a natural fit to the design and worked well for my needs. Again, the only flaw is how the device was places as it is the most harshly pushed and pulled on device.
Finally, the pedals did really well overall. I didn't like them too much on my tile floor, as the carpet grips worked better, but what can you do? The pedals were perfectly placed and perfectly designed for big feet. I'm not a big guy, but I have long/wide feet that require some space. Aside from size, the amount of push on the pedals dictates how fast you brake or accelerate. I'm particularly happy with the accelerator as it was easier to use than the Playstation 3 controller. Had I obtained the G27 prior to the Dirt 2 review the experience might have been better (it was really good though).
Now, this racing wheel is for the racing addict. For $299.99 you better be single or have an understanding spouse. I know that if I wanted the best racing experience then the G27 would be a must. If you're a casual racer you might want to consider Logitech's other wheels that have a lower price point. For the racing fan that wants the full experience then this might be the final piece to your racing puzzle.