“The official wheel of Gran Turismo.” That’s what Logitech is calling its new Driving Force GT steering wheel controller, and for good reason. The Driving Force GT was tailor-made to integrate specifically with the new Quick Tune functions featured in Gran Turismo 5 Prologue, and it does so flawlessly.
Once you’ve completed the first three tiers of GT5P’s main single-player mode, a bonus Quick Tune feature becomes unlocked, enabling you to customize the performance of your vehicles before a race, say adjusting power, weight, suspension and that sort of thing.
With the Driving Force GT, Logitech has introduced a special realtime adjustment dial designed specifically to take advantage of these Quick Tune options. It’s a red knob built into the face of the wheel (right under the spiffy new glowing GT-logo horn button) that allows you to tweak certain settings on the fly right in the middle of a race. Obviously you can’t change the weight or overall power of your ride in mid-race, that’d be completely unrealistic. It’s mostly for fine tuning things like brake and traction control in order to adapt to what’s happening on the track.
For the GT layman, this is a feature that will probably go unnoticed, but for the hardcore GT enthusiast – exactly the main demographic this wheel is targeting – it may just prove to be the difference between winning and losing an S-class event or heated race against stiff online competition.
The Driving Force GT is at its best when paired with GT5P, but don’t take that to mean it doesn’t work well with other racers. I also put the wheel to the test with a few races each of DiRT, the GRID demo, Gran Turismo HD Concept and Gran Turismo 3, and it performed admirably across the board. I especially enjoyed it with DiRT. The impressive force feedback technology it’s got under the hood shined through while taking to the off-road landscapes of Codemasters’ brilliant rally racer from last year. MotorStorm was the only other racing game I had on hand to try it with, but it wasn’t compatible. Using the wheel to steer worked somewhat, but input from the gas and brake pedals wouldn’t register.
Ergonomically speaking, this is the finest gaming wheel I’ve ever put my hands on. I’ve never used any of Logitech’s other Driving Force wheels to make any comparisons, but all’s I know is the new GT model is so smooth and comfortable to use. The resistance of the wheel’s rotation is absolutely perfect, allowing for unmatched steering precision, and the rubber hand grips feel just right to the touch. My lone complaint is the inconsistent functionality of the PS home button. In my testing, I could only get it to work while playing GT5P. Pressing it within any of the other games wouldn’t register for some reason, so in order to quit out to the XMB I had to pull out my DualShock 3. Not a huge drawback, but it did start to become inconvenient. If the button is there, I expect it to do what it’s supposed to.
At $150, the Driving Force GT is a pricey piece of hardware and by all means a luxury type of investment. But if you’re a serious racing gamer — especially when it comes to Gran Turismo 5 Prologue and any of the other GT games — and need a new wheel for your PS3 (and/or PS2) gaming needs, it’s totally worth the price of admission.
For more on Gran Turismo 5 Prologue the game, check out my full review here.