Customer Review

46 of 51 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Precise Control for a Niche Market, October 29, 2011
= Fun:4.0 out of 5 stars 
This review is from: Xbox 360 Wireless Speed Wheel (Video Game)
I have been thinking about getting a serious racing rig which would include a racing wheel with integrated seat and pedals etc. The problem is space and cost ($500-1000). Now, there is no way this wheel would fit in with those plans but it will give you a taste for the next level of racing without much of the cost.

To do that, the Speed Wheel will need to be responsive and precise. This is something that "motion control" has severely lacked. The Wii can barely read gestures correctly, the Kinect is also flaky and laggy, and PS move has similar issues. So, with all this, I was pretty skeptical that a digital motion sensing device could work well for steering controls.

The good news is that motion sensing in the Speed Wheel is in a completely different class the from that on the Wii. The Speed Wheel is both precise and responsive as long as you are playing a game that has good "Advanced Wheel" settings. Games like Forza 3/4, Dirt 3 and a limited number of other car racing games on the Xbox 360. When used with these games, the steering input excellent and as responsive as a standard controller. In Dirt 3, you can (and should) change adjust the sensitivity and linearity depending on the style of driving. For drift heavy events, this can make a big difference. I believe similar settings are available in Forza 3/4 and the wheel probably works even best in Forza 4 since it was pretty much designed for that game. In Forza 4, for example, the lights on the end of the wheel will indicate advanced steering feedback (indicating shift change is needed?).

In initial use, its also unlikely that this device will make you a better driver (much like other racing wheels) because it takes some time to adjust to throwing you hands around to quickly impart opposite lock without loosing all control. But it does feel more real than just flicking a thumb-stick back and forth which is sort of the whole point. Once you learn the basics, your scores will fall back in-line and you may even improve but that will based on your skill not the controller.

One nice improvement on this wheel is the triggers are larger and have a longer and lighter throw. This makes precise throttle and brake control much better than with the standard controllers. The buttons on the right a much smaller than the standard controller and may even be too small for folks with large hands. the D-pad is also a bit smaller than standard but at least it properly oriented up/down to be used for gear changes.

Overall, the motion control of this device is excellent but what about the rest of the package? Well, one minor issue is the lack of bumpers. The reason they left them off is that most games that support advanced wheels don't use them for anything that is not typically mapped to the d-pad like shifting gears. Because you don't have pedals, any LB/RB control would have you lifting off gas/break which is why LB/RB are not often used during racing. However, they forgot that people also need to deal with menus and the LB/RB can also be used for switching settings. You could even use them for linear gear shifts (i.e. paddle shifter) if you use two trigger fingers instead of one. Its possible, if the wheel sells, they could release a 2.0 version that fixed this but I doubt they will have the kind of sales to justify a new production run.

Another issue with this controller is the limited number of games that can be controlled. You might think that arcade racers would also work well. But from what I have seen, that is not always the case. If the game does not have "Advanced Wheel" or support , the steering may have a huge dead-zone (45-90 degrees) and basically make the wheel unusable. And because the controller lacks RB/LB and there's is no way to configure the wheel outside of the games, its nearly impossible to use this controller with many/most arcade racers. You really need the advanced wheel support in-game for this controller to be any good. I did find that this wheel did work surprising well with some arcade racers like NFS Hot Pursuit and Split Second but not with other games like NFS San Francisco or Pure. So, its hit an miss if the game does not support advanced wheels.

I have a bit if a problem with the fact that Microsoft does not supply this list of games along with the Speed Wheel advertising or documentation because anyone buying this for other games will generate and RMA. That is bad for both Microsoft and the consumer.

As far as feedback, the rumble is very light, and it can't give you that kind of feedback you would get from a typical high-end wheel and pedals but you are only spending a fraction of that cost. In Dirt 3, you can turn up the rumble setting to its max which helps quite a bit.

You should really only consider purchasing the Speed Wheel if you are Forza/Dirt fan who wants a different way to play those games. Don't expect to be using this wheel for Driver San Francisco or for driving in GTA 4. But if you really like those games and don't want to get into full racing rig, this is the only game in town. And for that, it succeeds extremely well in what it set out to do.

P.S. I would hope that this kind of precise left right motion control will be built into the next generation Xbox control so that it could be used for more games. I could see this working well for all car games even casual ones. It could also be used for leaning in FPSs etc. Perhaps, this motion control is a test-bed for next gen controller features. I certainly hope it is.
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Showing 1-3 of 3 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Mar 26, 2012 11:06:34 PM PDT
I'm sorry, I'm getting the huge dead-zone in Split/Second and no config or recognition. Is there something you did that makes it work or is that just acceptable to you since it's an arcade racer?

In reply to an earlier post on Aug 9, 2012 7:48:55 PM PDT
D. Frost says:
Honestly, I don't remember if it worked all that well in split second but at the time of the review, I guess I mentioned that it did. I hope I did not steer you wrong but in general, this wheel is not great for a number of arcade racers and I hope I made that much clear. As I said in my review, it works best for the sim-type racers and racing games that support advanced wheel type controllers.

In reply to an earlier post on Aug 9, 2012 9:55:53 PM PDT
I ended up buying it and it more than exceeded my expectations. It works great for the Bugbear arcade racers (Flat Out, Ridge Racer Unbounded). In Midnight LA it would have been great but there are some buttons that you can't map that you need, like turbo boost and e-brake. All in all though, the performance of this wheel and the number of games it does work far outweighs the cons IMO. Also, I wrote a review of it listing compatibility with all known racing games (give or take a few). It's more or less comprehensive but upon looking back I forgot to include which games supported rumble.
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D. Frost

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