As many of you within the community know, I am loving playing OMSI — Der Omnibussimulator. It is a bus simulator, but because it has no long-term goal, I cannot call it a simulator game or a “sim-u-game.” This goes on into a longer intellectual argument about what a game is and if a simulator can ever be called a game. However, I started playing OMSI with a keyboard and a mouse. It became painfully obvious that a wheel and pedal set was required. I have had wheel and pedal sets before and they were all better or worse in different aspects.
Remembering that better is relative, the best wheel and pedal combination that I’ve ever had was a Saitek R440 Force Feedback Wheel. The only reason I’m still not using it is because it developed a dead spot between 15 degrees and 16 degrees (turning right, left would be negative degrees). This wouldn’t be a problem except that coming out of the dead stop, in either direction, would send the on-screen wheel to 45+ degrees, therefore making it unusable. I didn’t check it up with Saitek because the R440 was out of warranty by that point.
I took the time to research what kind of wheel and pedal combinations other OMSI users were recommending. The Logitech Driving Force GT seemed to be at the top of everyone’s list. There were other combinations there like the Logitech G25 and G27 — which are both completely and utterly out of my price range. The Logitech Driving Force GT, if I were to buy it today, is out of my price range too, but I managed to get it for less than £60 earlier this year from Argos.
The Driving Force GT is built for the PS3, but can run on the PC with drivers available from Logitech.com. The wheel itself can be put into different modes depending on what you require of it. In OMSI, for example, the full range of motion is required from the wheel. Logitech gives you the option to have 40 degrees of motion to a full 900 degrees of motion and 900 degrees is a full two and a half turns between full left lock and full right lock. A real car, if you are wondering, has anywhere between two and three quarters to three and a half turns between locks, which equates to 970 to 1080 degrees.
The wheel has 20 programmable buttons on the front — or 24 if you include the POV (point of view) controls. Every single button is used on the wheel for OMSI operations; in fact, I could use an extra 10 or so! I could go through all of my buttons and what they are used for, but I think that’s more suited for an OMSI tutorial if you guys are interested in that. The wheel base also has a gear shift handle, but it only has two gates so it can only be used for up shift or down shift. However, in OMSI I use this handle for the bus’ air-operated parking brake.
This wheel is known as the Driving Force GT, so it would make sense that the force would stand for force feedback — and you wouldn’t be wrong. This wheel has a configurable centering spring and you can configure how you want the force feedback to feel. The configuration choices you have are for overall effect strength as well as spring and damper strength on separate sliders. I would not advise having everything force feedback setting “turned up to 11” because it is quite fatiguing and you will find yourself tired after one return journey or by the fifth lap of a race.
Installing the wheel and the accompanying software is pretty straightforward. However, I will point out that this wheel does need more power that a USB port can provide and a regular wall adapter has been provided. The cable for the adapter has a three or four meter reach on it and the USB cable has a further two or three meter reach. There are two chunky clamps to attach the wheel to your desk and it certainly seems securely attached even if you have your force feedback settings “turned up to 11.”
As would be expected, the pedals here are pretty basic. What you won’t be expecting is the fact that they actually feel substantial. They are made of plastic, but the brake pedal seems to be very firm — although that does loosen off with wear. They are very responsive even to the slightest touch. The pedal base, on the bottom, has a little flip out bar with sharp spikes on it for keeping it rooted to the carpet if you are playing a racing game, I’m assuming. There really isn’t much else to say about the pedals apart from they do their job well, but the main operation comes from the wheel base.
The Logitech Driving Force GT steering wheel and pedals set is worth spending your money on if you are going to be playing a lot of driving games in the future. If you are going to play a simulator or if you like playing driving games, then I’d certainly recommend that you look at this wheel and pedal combination and give it some thought. I would always recommend that you do your own research into your own tastes and style before buying any kind of steering wheel that is over $100 (or £60) because it is a lot of money to spend on something that you may not like or may not work for you as well as it worked for me.
This all leads back to the notion that better is relative. However, I do like this steering wheel and it has turned out to be the best and cheapest steering wheel I’ve ever bought. I’ve not found anything I don’t like about it and I’ve been living with it for the past three or four months. What is your favourite steering wheel and pedal combination?