Steering wheels have come a long way since the Mat Catz days back in the Playstation era. I remember owning one, and honestly I wasn't too happy with the wheel at all. It moved around clumsily on my table, it was a pain to control, and the sensitivity wasn't so hot. Well a a year and a half later, Interact released it's V3 steering wheel and it instantly became my favorite steering wheel. It held perfectly under my lap, it was quite sensitive and worked like a dream with GT2. And up until November 2000 time, it remained as my top pick for a steering wheel, that is until Interact once again brought home the goods, with its Playstation 2 wheel, the Blue Thunder. And impressive wheel that allowed the owner to remap all of the buttons, also allowed the gamer to either use the clamp to lock the wheel onto a desk, or place it under his/her lap. Throwing every possible racing game at the Blue Thunder, it was a success one after another. Although the wheel was a bit stiff to turn, it centered back almost instantly and provided excellent dual shock capabilities.
Come March 2001, when Gran Turismo 3 hype because almost unbearable to contain, the press began talking about a USB steering wheel peripheral that works with the PS2 and GT3. This was the Logitech Wingman Formula GP steering wheel. A USB based (originally released on PC) steering wheel, that featured true force feedback. The hype and praise was built so far up that Logitech decided to change the color of the wheel from red to darker blue, and added two GT3 logos, as the wheel became the official steering wheel for Sony's GT3. That's something considering that pretty much nobody in the console world had even heard of this wheel prior to GT3. But now this is the peripheral everybody is raving about, and even though it's price tag seems steep at $100, this wheel is worth the coinage! But honestly that's easy for me to say, since I had the wheel sent to me for free. So looking at it from a perspective of someone who just plunged $50 for GT3, and may have just recently bought a PS2, I'd suggest not purchasing the GT Force wheel, because it might set you back a hefty $100, although on the other hand, if you want the most out of Gran Turismo 3 and have some cash to spend, then the wheel is a good investment.
Let's drop the financial talk, and talk playability. The GT Force is the first true force feedback wheel ever. If you've ever played Crazy Taxi or any Crusin' game at the arcades, you would notice that the wheel moves and responds to the car, just as it would in real life. Well, the GT Force is a lot like that. It got sensors that make the unit react to G-force conditions, and collisions. So for instance if you crash hard into a wall, or hit a high curb, not only will you feel a rumble, but the wheel will begin to tilt violently, that is if you are not holding it tightly. To those who buy the wheel a word of advice, it takes time to get used to the wheel, don't just expect to win races right away, because you won't. This is a sophisticated tool which takes a lot of practice to finally get the hang of. On top of GT3, there are other games that are compatible with the wheel, such as Twisted Metal: Black, Nascar Heat 2002, and Motor Mayhem. The steering wheel features four face buttons (X,Y,A,B) and two buttons behind the wheel for gear shifting (L and R).
Overall the wheel is a great accessory, a must buy if you ask me. But once again it's easy for me to say. I'd have to be fair and say that $100 is pretty expensive, although nationwide the wheel has been sold out for days now, so it just goes to show you that even though it's costly, it's a hot commodity. A better than great wheel, at a steep price. If you are desperate for a wheel go with the Interact Blue Thunder. It's still an excellent unit in every respect. Final word on the wheel: get it if you have the money, or get if you're not too sure and keep the receipt just incase.
7/25/2001 Arnold Katayev