Reviewed: April 30, 2008
Type: Wheel & Pedals
What's in the Box
I've been racing with Logitech brand steering wheel on my PC and home consoles for as long as they've been making them. And while we review dozens of wheels from numerous manufacturers each year I always seem to gravitate back to my Logitech wheel. Itís been awhile since Iíve had a game to even justify breaking a wheel out of storage, let alone setting up the table on which to mount the wheel and run the USB and power cables. As far as the PS3 system is concerned, F1 Championship Edition is the only racer to even support a wheel until now.
Gran Turismo 5 Prologue has arrived and with it a whole new generation of racing wheel from Logitech. Much like the Driving Force Pro for the PS2, which was specifically created for GT4, we now have the Logitech Driving Force GT, the official wheel for GT5. The fact that is just so happens to work with most any other racing game for the PS2 or PS3 (or even PC) is just icing on the cake.
Building on the serious sim-like elements of the Driving Force Pro, Logitech once again gives us a durable wheel with 900-degrees of rotation, powerful force feedback, quality no-slip pedals, stick shift, and some new buttons specific to the new design specs of Gran Turismo 5 Prologue and the full version shipping in 2009.
Installation - 10
The Driving Force GT is a USB device so itís plug and play, quite literally. Connect the pedals to the wheel and the wheel to the PS3 and you are nearly ready to go. The wheel will auto-calibrate each time you turn on the PS3 or start a game that supports a wheel. It's actually quite amusing to watch others react to the wheel spinning around on its own.
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. I've actually twisted my wrist trying to maintain a grip on the wheel while spinning out. There is no way the wheel could ever draw this much power from the USB connection. Kudos to Logitech for providing extra long USB and power cords so you have greater freedom in where you setup your wheel.
Unlike most of the console racing wheels released lately, the Driving Force GT 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, desk, or other flat surface in front of you for console gaming isnít as frequent and could present a challenge. I just use a double-decker end table with the wheel mounted on top and the lower shelf makes for perfect pedal storage when you aren't driving.
Aesthetics - 10
The Driving Force GT is a stylish and comfortable wheel designed for extended periods of use. I'd like to say it's the best so far, but nothing has, or will likely beat the Logitech G25 anytime soon. At first glance not much has changed in the overall design since the Pro, but upon closer inspection we see some definite additions to the wheel above and beyond the obvious PS button.
The 10-inch wheel is wrapped with a no-slip rubbery grip on each side in the 9 and 3 positions, just where you will be holding it despite what your driverís ed teacher taught you. The rubber texture allows you to maintain a vice-like grip, even when you have to drive with one hand while flicking the large knobby shifter mounted on the right side of the console. The linear shifter moves easily and is quite responsive, but if you arenít comfortable taking your right hand off the wheel you can still make use of the paddle shifters located on back of the wheel. These paddles are more integrated into the surface of the wheel; not the large butterfly shifters weíve seen in the past.
The T-shaped centerpiece of the wheel is home to the traditional face buttons on the right and a D-pad on the left. L1 and R1 functions are assigned to the paddle shifters while L2 and R2 reside on the top of the crosspiece. L3 and R3 get their own dedicated buttons on the center hub while Select and Shift have their home on the lower vertical part of the T. Also on the center hub is the PS button and an illuminated centerpiece with the GT logo. This centerpiece actually pushes in like a horn, although Iíve seen no way to assign this a PS3 compatible button function.
Of course the first thing you notice is also the last thing Iím talking about Ė that big red ring with center button and the opposing up and down buttons located to either side of the lower part of the wheel hub. That red ring is actually a new 24-position real-time adjustment dial which can be used in combination with the up and down arrows on the other side to tweak an entirely new set of on-the-fly racing options.
Simply tap the center of the red ring to bring up a vertical menu of items like brake bias, traction control, etc. then scroll through the options with the up and down buttons and adjust the horizontal bar graph setting by rolling the red ring. Tap the Return button to exit the menu and keep driving with your new settingsÖall without ever hitting the pause button or suspending the race.
The pedal design hasnít changed that much from the Pro version of the Driving Force. Both pedals have a comfortable angle but I still wish they would use the reverse hinging mechanism that Mad Catz implemented back in 1999 where the surface of the pedal changes angle as the pedal travels it course toward the floorboard. The pedal base isnít very heavy so it might slip around on hardwood or tile floors but I had no problems with slippage on standard carpet. My only complaint with the pedals would be the holes, which, while stylish, slightly aggravated my feet when wearing only socks.
Durability - 10
Everything about the Driving Force GT exudes quality. The wheel and pedals all have a solid feel and substantial weight about them. I would have like a bit more weight in the pedal base just to be safe. Despite the motorized graininess of the force feedback system the rotation of the wheel is smooth and precise and the pedals offer a good resistance without being too stiff.
The wheel offers some impressively violent force feedback. I've put the Driving Force GT through about 40 hours of rigorous testing and the wheel was just as solid when I was finished as when I had removed it from the box. Extended use of the wheel rivals a good workout, with a bit of strain on your hands, wrists, and lower arms. I might actually be toning up a bit using this wheel.
Performance - 10
The list of games that will work with the Driving Force GT is fairly short, but then again, this is a new wheel for a new system that only has two racing games that could be considered simulations...three if you want to include DiRT. Gran Turismo Prologue is the only game so far that makes use of the adjustment dial. The wheel is backwards compatible with PS2 games and even the PS2 system so the list of supported titles gets a bit longer when you factor in some retro gaming.
The main claim to fame for this new GT wheel is the red adjustment dial, and thanks to perfect placement of the buttons and dial and the perfect HUD-style menu placement on the screen, you can quickly make these adjustments without taking your eyes off the road. This feature alone is perhaps the greatest strength and noteworthy feature when recommending this wheel to anybody who plans on playing Prologue or the final version of Gran Turismo 5 next year.
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 GT 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. You can watch the lateral G-Force indicator on the screen and feel the wheel responding to those forces.
Value - 10
While true driving aficionados will certainly lean toward the more functional (and expensive) G25 leather-wrapped wheel with its clutch, fancy shifter, and button console, those gamers will spend a lot of time mapping buttons then trying to remember what does what. The Driving Force GT is not only much more affordable; it is designed with Gran Turismo 5 and the PS3 in mind. It's as instantly functional as it is durable and will give you the added immersion to turn any racing game into a racing simulation.
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 GT. This is a solid piece of equipment that is going to last you a long time, and it's going to give you a decisive edge on everybody who is racing with a game pad or a lesser wheel.
Overall Ė 10.0
The Logitech Driving Force GT racing wheel is easily the best wheel currently available for the PS3. By design (the glowing GT logo), and even by marketing promotion, and media hype you might feel obligated to purchase this wheel if you are playing Gran Turismo 5 Prologue and you should. The game and wheel complement each other so perfectly it's almost a crime they aren't sold as a combo. Gran Turismo 5 Prologue simply isn't complete without this wheel and neither will the full game when it ships next year.
The only thing that exceeds this wheel's polished design, intuitive button and control placement, and fine craftsmanship is its outstanding performance. If you are remotely serious about your racing then donít get behind the wheel unless that wheel is the Driving Force GT.