More handy than a correct racing wheel
Sensitive and responsive efficiency
Makes racing video games extra immersive
No bumper buttons
Tiring on the arms
Hasn’t the suggestions of a correct racing wheel
In a perfect world, we’d all play racing video games with a steering wheel. At first it would make the sport tougher, but it surely additionally makes it extra practical, immersive and plausible, and once you’re enjoying driving sims, rally video games and F1 video games particularly, that’s all the time good.
Sadly, having a wheel clamped to a strong floor isn’t all the time handy within the common lounge, and never all of us can get away with all these cables trailing throughout the ground, not to mention the pedals and litter of a full-scale wheels and pedal setup. As a consequence, there’s a marketplace for a midway home: a wheel that provides you a number of the expertise of racing with a correct steering wheel mixed with the comfort of a traditional wi-fi controller. It’s a midway home that Microsoft’s new Xbox 360 Wireless Speed Wheel now occupies.
Designed for launch with the current – and distinctive – Forza Motorsports 4, it’s a strong little U-shaped controller that appears extra like one thing from an airplane’s cockpit than a steering wheel. The right-hand facet of the U has the 4 Xbox 360 face buttons whereas there’s an analogue set off mounted on the rear. On the left-hand facet you’ll discover the D-pad and an identical left analogue set off.
You’ll discover the standard central Xbox button in a round module in the course of the steering wheel, with the Start and Back buttons in a round rocker change surrounding it. The unit runs on two AA batteries, which match right into a spring clipped compartment on the base of the U. You have to be cautious with the discharge change or they’ll be out and beneath the couch in file time.
The Wireless Speed Wheel makes use of an accelerometer to sense the rotation of the wheel; solely horizontal actions appear to be detected, so there’s no hope of urgent it into service for fight flight sims or different motion video games. Obviously you may’t anticipate to get the 900 levels of rotation that you simply’d get from the Logitech G27 and even the 270 levels you get from the Thrustmaster and Mad Catz wired wheels. Instead, the Wireless Speed Wheel appears to have round 80 to 90 levels of tilt on both facet.
The different factor you’ll need to do with out is any actual power suggestions: using motors within the wheel to offer resistance and judder as you nook or drive throughout tough floor. Of course, whereas Microsoft’s authentic Xbox 360 Wireless Wheel supported power suggestions, it’s arduous to search out one other 360 wheel that does, so the Wireless Speed Wheel is hardly alone on this, and it does incorporate haptic suggestions for a little bit rumble when applicable.
There’s additionally a little bit visible suggestions from two inexperienced glowing circles on the prime of every finish of the U. These appear to mild up in relation to the place of the steering wheel and flash when there’s rumble, however – to be completely trustworthy – you’re often too busy staring on the display screen to pay a lot consideration to what they’re as much as.
In use, there’s loads of excellent news. The wheel is well-built and really comfy, and the sensitivity is nearly good for enjoying Forza 4 at informal and medium issue ranges. There appears to be a little bit extra sensitivity close to the centre to be able to make easy, mild turns, however sufficient play as you flip the wheel arduous to make sharper corners or drift at greater speeds. The triggers even have extra journey than these on a normal controller, permitting for a higher degree of management over acceleration and braking.
Physically, the expertise can really feel a bit like enjoying Mario Kart or F1 2010 with a plastic velocity wheel on the Wii, however the Wireless Speed Wheel is definitely extra correct and responsive. The backside line is which you could transfer from a traditional controller to the wheel with out seeing your efficiency or your lap instances endure, and it positively makes the racing really feel extra enjoyable and extra pure.
The Wireless Speed Wheel is an excellent match for Forza 4, but it surely additionally works properly with different race video games we tried it with. There’s a slight twitchiness to the dealing with within the criminally under-rated Shift 2: Unleashed, but it surely’s one thing you quickly regulate to, and the wheel is easy and delicate sufficient to take care of the fast cornering of F1 2010. Play any of those video games within the cockpit view, and it’s fairly spectacular how precisely adjustments within the place of the Wireless Speed Wheel are mirrored on the in-car wheel. We’re a good distance from Kinect territory right here.
That stated, there are some points. Play video games on tougher or extra practical issue modes, and you’ll begin to battle. It will get tougher to make good corners or counter spin, and also you’ll positively miss the power suggestions and bodily interplay of a dearer wired wheel.
The wheel can even get tiring with use. It weighs round 300g with batteries, and whereas the load is concentrated on the backside and the wheel is kind of properly balanced, holding it out in entrance of you all through an extended race is usually a drag. If you wish to get caught right into a two or three hour session of Forza, you may anticipate a little bit muscle fatigue to start out creeping in.
Most severely, there are not any left and proper bumpers, so if you wish to play with guide gear adjustments or there are options that want left and proper bumpers to regulate, you’ll both need to map them to the d-pad (if that possibility is even out there) or change again to a normal controller.
Even in Forza, the place a number of the menus and customisation screens want the bumper buttons, it’s an irritation, and one which Microsoft ought to actually have thought of when designing the wheel. The similar applies to the dearth of any socket for a wired headset; not an issue you probably have a wi-fi or Bluetooth mannequin, however an annoyance in the event you’re caught with the one which shipped with the console.
These are issues, however then you might want to steadiness them in opposition to the meant market – the typical gamer, not critical racing fanatics, and the actual fact is that you’ve a wheel you may stash away in a drawer on the finish of a session. The Wireless Speed Wheel isn’t good, but it surely’s nonetheless the very first thing we attain for once we boot up Forza 4.
VerdictThe Wireless Speed Wheel is marred by a few unhealthy design choices, and the trouble of holding it in racing place could make longer racing periods tiring. Yet it’s correct and responsive, and it does make enjoying Forza 4 – and different racers – a extra thrilling and immersive expertise. What’s extra, it’s an terrible lot extra handy to select up, play and put away than a correct racing wheel setup.