Microsoft Wheels in Excitementby Alan Zisman
(c) 1999. First
published in Vancouver Computes,
Microsoft Sidewinder Force Feedback Steering
Requires: Pentium 90 or better, Windows 95/98
The quest for the perfect virtual gaming experience
has given us ever-improving
computer sound-- floor-shaking sub-woofers, for example. And 3D
cards with more RAM on them than entire computers had a few years ago.
But despite what you hear and see, it's hard to get sucked into the
of driving a car at over 200 km/h when you're controlling the action
a little, hand-held game controller.
Steering wheels as game controllers go back a while to some of the earliest PC and Arcade car racing games-- but most offer a flimsy feel, and may only work with a few titles.
Microsoft's Sidewinder Force Feedback Steering Wheel
isn't just any
old game controller. The wheel and pedals have a solid, reassuring
with black, streamlined styling that wouldn't be out of place if a
jet. It's easy to set up, clamping tightly onto the edge of your desk,
while the software install adds it as a game controller to Control
But when you check out its configuration, you find
what really sets
it apart-- the force feedback options. Like the Rumble Packs used in
game system or Microsoft's Sidewinder Force Feedback joystick, you can
really feel this wheel.
Hit the curb, drive over rough roads, rev the engine--
like in a real
car, you're going to feel it. Of course, your software has to
to make use of this feature? otherwise, it's just a regular steering
Two Microsoft games: Monster Truck Madness 2 and Cart Precision Racing
are included, but other recent racing games also support Force
We tried it with Electronic Art's Need for Speed III, for example, and
could really feel it when we side-swiped another car!
There's a bit of a rattle in the unit, especially when
the wheel is
centered-- but it's not too distracting when you're driving full
Perhaps more serious is that it doesn't cooperate well with other game
controllers-- you may not want to use the steering wheel for other
of gameplay-- but in order to get the system to recognize a standard
we had to uninstall the wheel.
At about $300(CDN), it's an expensive gadget-- but it
you're a big fan
of car, motorcycle, or flying games, the added realism from both using
a wheel and the Force Feedback may make it worth buying. Find a store
it on display and try it out.