Microsoft SideWinder Force Feedback Wheel


posted 3/4/2003 by Charles Husemann
other articles by Charles Husemann
One Page Platforms: PC
Microsoft SideWinder Force Feedback Wheel is similar to a joysticks in that it helps get you further into the game by making it feel more realistic. Most devices are input only (you send information to the game about what you want to do and it reacts to you), force feedback devices actually interact with you. Your actions trigger events on the screen, which in turn interact with you in the form of vibrations and shakes from the device, enhancing the gaming experience.

The Microsoft SideWinder Force Feedback Wheel comes with the wheel, a set of pedals, a heavy-duty electrical plug, and a copy of Monster Truck Madness 2. This review will focus primarily on the wheel since the included software package is a bit on the stale side. To test the wheel, I tried the game with Need for Speed 2: Hot Pursuit 2 and the demo versions of Microsoft Rallisport Racing and NASCAR Thunder 2003 so that I would have a wide variety of games to try the wheel out on, as each game represents a different type of racing environment.

Installing the wheel is easy. You simply clamp the wheel to your desk; connect the wheel to the pedals via a RJ-11 cable; plug in the wheel to the power supply; and then hook it up to the computer via a USB cable. The device is automatically recognized by WindowsXP and the driver is installed. I did install version 4.0 of the SideWinder software just to see what was there but more on that later.

The clamping mechanism is solid. You slide the wheel where you want to install it, tighten the screw on the clamp, and then lock it in place with the clamp. Once you have it tightened down, it’s not going anywhere. You do need to make sure you have enough clearance below where you’re going to install it because the clamping mechanism does take some space. I would have preferred to install it onto my desk but with my keyboard tray right below it I was forced to relocate the keyboard and install the wheel on the keyboard tray.
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