Reviewed: September 18, 2004
Type: Wheel & Pedals
What's in the Box
We first saw the Logitech Driving Force Pro two years ago at E3. At the time it was being exclusively developed for the PS2 for use with the upcoming Gran Turismo 4. Well, itís two years later, the wheel is here, GT4 isnít, and Iím too excited about this controller to wait any longer to tell you about it.
Racing wheels are no longer the niche controller they used to be. There are dozens of hardware manufacturers making dozens of wheels for all the various consoles and the PC. Just like you wouldnít want to play a flight simulator without a joystick, no real racer wants to get behind the wheel without...a wheel. The more serious the racer the more serious the wheel, and it doesnít get much more serious than the Driving Force Pro.
Admittedly, not all driving games are conducive to a wheel. You typically want a game with either a cockpit view or a front (bumper) view, and you want some element of serious driving physics. When it comes to serious racing games they donít make Ďem any more realistic than the Gran Turismo series and the upcoming forth installment promises to be the most realistic yet.
To add to the realism, Logitech has designed the first racing wheel with 900-degrees of rotation Ė thatís two and a half rotations so you can really crank that wheel and feel like you are really driving. Of course the problem with any specialty controller is that without the game, you just have an expensive piece of hardware - Steel Battalion anyone? Fortunately, the Driving Force Pro can be switched down to a traditional 200-degree wheel to work with any current racing game on your PS2 and PC Ė yes, I said PC. The joys of a true USB peripheral.
Installation - 10
The Driving Force Pro is a USB device so itís plug and play, quite literally. Connect the pedals to the wheel and the wheel to the PS2 (or PC) and you are nearly ready to go. Assuming your game has a calibration routine youíll want to optimize the rotation for the best racing experience, but even if the game has no native wheel support chances are you can get this wheel to work simply by rotating the wheel to each extreme then centering.
The wheel also needs to be plugged into an AC power outlet. While this might seem like a nuisance at first, once you sample the massive force feedback effects, you wonít mind. There is no way the wheel could ever draw this much power from the USB connection.
Unlike most of the console racing wheels released lately, the Driving Force Pro does not feature a lap grip, so you are going to need a flat surface to mount the wheel for best results. While this normally isnít a problem for PC racing, having a table or desk in front of you for console gaming isnít as frequent.
Aesthetics - 10
The Driving Force Pro is easily the nicest and most luxurious wheel I have had the privilege of using since the MOMO Racing Force for the PC (another Logitech product). In fact, the Driving Force Pro is quite similar to the design of that PC wheel, both in style and quality.
The faux-leather wheel is a substantial 10 inches with a T-shaped centerpiece that contains a D-pad on the left and traditional PS2 face buttons on the right. The R1 and L1 buttons are mapped to the pair of butterfly paddles located behind the wheel while R2, L2, R3, and L3 are located around the center hub. Everything is very accessible and doesnít detract from the driving experience.
A pair of indicator lights lets you know when the wheel is properly calibrated and also which mode (200/900) you are in. There is no toggle to switch modes, the wheel will auto-detect any game that supports 900-degree steering and automatically switch to that mode.
The stick shift is extremely well designed with a nice big round knob giving you a perfect grip for crunching those gears as you wind around the track. The gas and brake pedals are a perfect match for the wheel and are mounted on a nice platform that features carpet grips to keep the base from sliding around. Nice touch.
Durability - 10
Everything about the Driving Force Pro radiates quality. The wheel and pedals all have a solid feel and substantial weight about them. The rotation of the wheel is smooth and precise and the pedals offer a good resistance without being too stiff. There is a nice defined click to the shifter and even the paddles are well designed. Iím often afraid I will snap these things off but not on this wheel.
The wheel offers some impressively violent force feedback, which can often lead to some loosening of the equipment over time. I put the Driving Force Pro through about 30 hours of rigorous testing and the wheel was just as solid when I was finished as when I had removed it from the box.
Performance - 10
The list of games that will work with the Driving Force Pro is too lengthy to reprint here, but there is only one game (so far) that supports the 900-degree mode and itís not available yet. You can be sure that when GT4 does ship we will be expanding upon this review.
Genres seem to come and go in waves and we are currently seeing a flood of racing games, so what better time to review a wheel than now. Iíve got plenty of games to try out and you have plenty of reasons for wanting a wheel. On the PS2 I put the wheel through its paces on several games like SRS, Burnout 3, Test Drive: Eve of Destruction, R:Racing Evolution, and of course, Gran Turismo 3. On the PC I took TOCA Race Driver 2 for a test drive.
Every single game I played performed flawlessly and actually became more fun when played with the wheel versus a gamepad. Games like Test Drive: Eve of Destruction, with itís amazing internal cockpit view, became a whole lot more immersive when played with the wheel, not to mentioning controlling a whole lot better.
The force feedback effects are astounding, easily the best and most powerful effects of any console racing wheel I have ever used. Often, force feedback is a term used to inaccurately describe simple rumble effects that have no bearing on the gameplay. The Driving Force Pro actually responds to the physics and the driving conditions so you feel every bump in the road, every impact, and even a variable amount of resistance sliding around turns at different speeds.
Value - 10
What would you pay for the best console racing wheel ever made? As much as your PS2? If you want the Driving Force Pro racing wheel then prepare to part with $150. Yes, thatís $50 more than the MOMO wheel, arguably the best wheel prior to this one, and even though I still prefer my MOMO for PC games, those on a budget will certainly appreciate the fact that the Driving Force Pro will work on your PS2 and PC.
Is $150 too much for a wheel? Not if you take your racing seriously, and anyone who does deserves nothing less than the Driving Force Pro. This is a solid piece of equipment that is going to last you a long time. It will probably outlive your PS2.
Overall Ė 10.0
With so many companies making all sorts of controllers itís often hard to figure out what the best one is for you, your system, and your gaming preference. There are wireless wheels, universal wheels, and then thereís the Logitech Driving Force Pro racing wheel, easily the best wheel on the market for the PS2 and one of the top wheels for the PC.
The only thing that exceeds itís polished design and fine craftsmanship is its outstanding performance. If you are remotely serious about your racing then donít get into that driver seat without a Driving Force Pro in front of you.