October 14, 2009

The Xbox 360 Racing Wheel

JimmyJames70 Says My love for racing games all started with my first Xbox 360. The console came packaged with three games: Kameo, Perfect Dark Zero, and Project Gotham Racing 3. Kameo was quickly dismissed, I played through most of PDZ, but it was PGR 3 that really grabbed my attention. It took awhile for me to get a hang of the controls: you can’t always floor it and you gotta use finesse in the turns. I eventually traded it on Goozex and kinda sorta thought about trying another racing game.

I must have gotten sidetracked with many other games, because it was a long while before I got another racing game. The second one that I played was GRiD. I tried to get Burnout Paradise, but that game has a forever wait to it and I eventually put it on hold because I got GRiD, and then Forza 2, and then DiRT, and then Need for Speed Most Wanted… Anyway, after a couple of races with GRiD, I started kicking myself for not trying another racing game sooner. These games are action-packed with plenty of adrenaline and you need a finesse touch that most games don’t require.

After playing through much of GRiD, I decided I needed to have at least one racing game in my library at all times. At this point in time, I have two (Dirt and Need for Speed Most Wanted), and by the end of the month I’ll have three (Forza 3; I just sold Forza 2 through Goozex; otherwise, I’d currently have three racing games). I guess you could say I’m a geek for the racing games. And in all honesty, I’m not even all that good at playing them. I race on the easy level just so I can smoke past the AI. Sure, I put the difficulty up a notch or two every once in awhile, but by the time I reach the latter stages of the game, I’m back to easy. I don’t care. It’s fun. And that’s what’s important… which brings me to the point of this post: if you’re a fanatic for the racing games, you need the Xbox 360 racing wheel.

At first look, the official racing wheel is steep in price. The accessory retails at $100, and that doesn’t include tax and shipping. I did look for it at Wal-Mart, but they didn’t have it in stock and I’ve never noticed it at Target, or other places I unfortunately shop at (hey, don’t blame me, blame the economy). Given that, my attention turned to eBay. I was a bit hesitant purchasing a somewhat-pricey item through eBay, but I decided to give it a shot. It took a few days, but I eventually landed a winning bid at $63, roughly a little more than a standard controller. There was no sales tax and the shipping was reasonable. All in all, it was still far cheaper than paying retail.

The seller was Priced_Less_Products (no, they did not pay me for writing this) and apparently they have a ton of these in stock; winning bids range anywhere from $50 to $70. They seem to have a few on sale at any given time. The package was shipped and received in less than a week via UPS. The box was in rough shape, but the product was in like-new condition. In fact, if I was told it was brand-stinking new, I’d believe it.

How does playing a racing game with a racing wheel differ from playing with a controller? Believe me, it’s a world of difference. While it’s true it took several races for me to get a handle on the sensitivity and adjusting to where the e-brake is, after several attempts, I was a racing pro. It is completely awesome. Last night, I played Need for Speed Most Wanted for a straight three hours before realizing how late it was getting. I was having that much fun. I now want to play the entire series of Need for Speed games, and I’m looking forward to Forza 3 as much as I’m looking forward to Modern Warfare 2.

Everything from the look-and-feel of the wheel and the pedals is so cool. The wheel has a great grip on it, the pedals feel like a real car, and the resistance and tumble effects make the standard controller feel, well, it makes it feel standard.

If you ever thought about getting the racing wheel and never have, I do strongly suggest getting one. It really changes the whole game and allows you to fall even deeper into the game. In simple words: it’s awesome.