Friday, July 5, 2013

Clueless Behind the Video Game Wheel

Recently my husband started commuting to work with me.  He noted, after a few weeks experiencing my driving during Austin rush-hour traffic, that he thought I'd really enjoy auto racing video games.

Okay, I don't want to evaluate what that says about how my husband thinks of my driving, but I found the proposal interesting.  We started looking into current racing games and two of them stood out to us: GT5 and Forza4.  

There was only one problem with my getting into these games.  I absolute hate console controllers.  I've gone so far as to by a Xim so I can use my keyboard/mouse when a game isn't offered on PC.  But for this particular application, I don't need a keyboard but a steering wheel and foot pedals.  

I thought it would be a relatively simple task to find a steering wheel.  There are a couple guys at my office that play racing games, and they said hands down the G27 was the way to go. That wheel is specific to GT5 and as I learned more, it became obvious that GT5 is a race car simulator program much more than it is a racing game.  I'm not interesting in tweaking out my car's suspension or gear ratios or other such non-sense just so I can advance to the next level. 

So that had me looking hard at F4.  Everyone I talked to that played Forza 4 said it is a FUN game and not a overly complex simulator like GT5. So I started looking for a steering wheel that worked on the Xbox.  G27 is a PS3 wheel and the Xbox adapter offered for it has received ugly reviews.  So I obviously looked at  the wheel built for F4, made by Fanatech, the Forza Motorsport CSR Wheel Value Pack.  Great reviews on this wheel/pedal set so I go out to buy it but it's not available.

So I looked at the Forza elite wheel that they do have in stock. Um, well, that was a no go.  It's $600 and that doesn't include the $150 pedal. WTF.  This is for Forza 4 so it isn't like I'm playing a high-end simulator like GT5 so this just seems ridiculous to me.  

Oh, then I go back and look at the out-of-stock wheel. First I realize that the value pack sold at $249 is no longer available. Then I realize that the non-elite wheel alone is $200  (the one that 's out of stock) and the pedals are now sold separately for an additional $80.  Why you'd sell a wheel without pedals is just plain bad form in my opinion.  Sure, offer upgrades for the other higher-end pedals, but sell the base wheel with base pedals for goodness sake.  Separating them, when you need both to play, is just a transparent way to increase profits. 

At this point, I simply gave up, abandoning the whole quest.  Sure I'd like to try out F4, but if it's going to be such a pain in the ass just to find a highly rated steering wheel that won't cost an arm and leg, then it is not longer fun.  And I'm doing this because I want to have fun.  

So I'm a bit clueless, a bit disappointed, and ready to leave it all in my rear view mirror.