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The Driving Force Wireless wheel features all standard PS3 controller buttons and a four way d-pad on its face, with two paddles underneath the left and right sides of the wheel for braking and accelerating. Unlike some early PS3 third party gear, the Driving Force Wireless does also include a PS Button, however this cannot be used to turn on the system as the wheel isn't operational until it's synced with the PS3 and has power from an AC source. The AC adapter has a comfortably long cord length of twelve feet, but is notably of the block variety instead of being a simply two or three prong plug (not that this matters greatly at all, but I would want to know if I were reading a review). Connectivity to the PS3 couldn't be simpler, all one has to do is plug in the USB 2.4GHz transceiver into an available port on the PS3 and within seconds and without any input from the user, the controller is active and ready to go; per spec, the wheel should work up to about 30 feet away, and through a wall or two, but of course radio frequency interference and other factors will determine your wheel's effective range.
For most of us though, we'll be sitting right in front of the TV on the couch. You can place the Driving Force Wireless on a table, or even better is right on your lap. The base of the wheel has a few rubber strips for traction, but also features the ability to extend and retract, horizontally, a few inches to accommodate what it's resting on. I found that I could position my legs comfortably apart, about shoulder width apart, and the wheel felt comfortable and secure. Having already put GT5 Prologue in, I was all set. By using the buttons on the wheel, you can navigate the XMB and a game's menu just as you would with a controller. Having selected my car, specifying manual transmission (as I typical do) and choosing an event in GT5, the real test was about to begin.
After the loading sequence, I felt the Force Feedback of the wheel tense up and start to rumble, it felt solid. As I accelerated, nearing top speed of my car and hanging tight in turns, the wheel's pressure scaled up beautifully to what I would expect from a car as it nears its threshold and begins to shake and rattle. The position of the L1 and R1 buttons, just on the opposite side of the paddles, was great for shifting too, although it took me longer to get used to braking and down shifting than it did to accelerate and shift up. The wheel's 180 degree turn radius (ninety degrees to the left and right) may disappoint fans of the more expensive wheels from Logitech's past, but for the price, the Driving Force Wireless' setup is more than sufficient and I can't say I ever really missed having the extra turning radius in my tests.
After about an hour, my hands were getting tired, but this is to be expected from any wheel that uses paddles. I took a break and played some more before starting up Burnout Paradise, but with it too I would realize that I was prepared to trade taking short breaks to rest my hands for the more interactive and satisfying feel of using this wheel as opposed to a standard controller.
With Burnout, big crashes and air time are typical and I figured that would be a great test of the wheel's Force Feedback capabilities. What I didn't quite expect to find but did early on in my testing is that avoiding crashes by making smooth, or even sudden turns, was actually easier with the wheel than an analog stick on a controller. However, using the face buttons like Square to handbrake was a little troublesome and I often found myself pressing a different button on accident because I didn't want to take my eyes off of the action. If the four main face buttons where spread out a little bit more, but while also keeping Square from getting much further towards the center of the wheel (so as to keep it within reach of the right thumb), I think that would have helped.
After a solid hour with Burnout, I decided to try Motorstorm, although I knew from Logitech's compatibility list on their website that this title wasn't supported. For a full list of supported titles, including a list of supported PS2 titles, check out the product's official site. So knowing that Motorstorm wasn't on the list, I was nevertheless curious and decided to check it out and I found some interesting results. First, the directional changes of the wheel worked, but the paddles didn't; nor did the PS Button. I could still however use the bottom buttons on the wheel, L2/L3, R2/R3, but this of course was pretty silly to try to play the game like this. However, it did make me realize that those buttons on the bottom are cramped together, but for most racing titles this isn't likely to matter.
In testing for several more hours over the weekend, I haven't found anything more or less to say about the Logitech Driving Force Wireless wheel. It's a comfortable, solid performing product and in my experience it's worked as advertised on the games that are supported. It's likely that several of the big racing titles coming out in the next several weeks, including Pure, Baja, and Motorstorm 2, will support the wheel, so it's a safe bet that you will get plenty of use out of it for a long time to come.
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