MS SideWinder Force Feedback Wheel - Part 4

The Feel Of The Wheel
In a rush to play with my new found joy, I fired up EA’s Need For Speed 3 without first getting into the control panel to check the regular things – i.e. calibration etc, etc. (Remember that I had only a mere hour or so before I had to prepare myself for a wedding dinner.)

"My initial experience with NFS3 was not very encouraging due to the steering lag and the force feedback."

As soon as NFS 3 was up, I went straight into racing. I didn’t even looked at the force feedback options which were provide by NFS 3. At this point, I wasn’t sure if the wheel has been properly initialised or even if NFS 3 had detected it. I was just crossing my fingers and hoping that everything would just work out all right. So as soon as the countdown to the race began, I held my breath with anticipation. The moment the countdown hit zero, I stepped on the accelerator and held on the wheel. To my surprise and of course delight, everything worked like a charm.

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Controlling the car (I used the Lamborghini Diablo) was a bit strange in the beginning. Even with the force feedback turned on, the wheel did not feel natural. There was a lag between the steering action and the change of direction in the car. The steering wheel had a long throw on each side making a full 270 degrees from end to end. The steering lag and the long throw made me oversteer in both directions almost all the way in the race.

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The force was not too strong in NFS in terms of steering (later when I looked in the control panel, I found out that the force settings were at "high"). However, the force feedback for road bumps and crashes felt very natural. That was all the time I had before setting off for the wedding dinner. (You can imagine how I felt at the wedding dinner – physically, I was at the dinner but mentally I was at home planning what to do next when I get home from the dinner).

To cut a long story short, I went to the MS Sidewinder FF Wheel site to look at the list of games which support the wheel and I picked up a few of the titles to check my new toy. The list of titles I tested my wheel on were the following:

  • NFS3
  • MS Precision CART racing
  • Monster Truck Madness 2
  • Ultimate Race Pro
  • Newman Haas Racing
  • Dethkarz
  • Colin McRae Rally

My initial experience with NFS3 was not very encouraging due to the steering lag and the force feedback. I looked the force feedback steering options (there were quite a few) and I experimented with a few settings but I still could not get a setting which made NFS 3 felt more natural. I wasted no time on NFS 3 and moved on to the other titles which I had waiting.

"Newman Haas Racing & Colin McRae Rally, had mediocre force feedback performance. They were not as realistic as, say, CART or Dethkarz, but they were still much better than NFS 3 in my opinion."

In summary, the 2 titles which were bundled with the wheel were much more natural compared to NFS 3 (which seemed to be everyone’s favourite). The force feedback was stronger, the steering felt much heavier (like an unassisted steering wheel or non-power steering car) and there was no steering lag which I experienced in NFS 3. Between the two MS titles, CART was much better than MTM2 but MTM2 was much more fun to play. This was because MTM2’s tracks were simpler compared to CART’s racing realistic simulation model.

The next 2 titles which were also pretty good in terms of control and force feedback was Dethkarz & Ultimate Race Pro. These 2 titles played almost as well as the 2 MS titles - if not better. Incidentally, both Ultimate Race Pro & Dethkarz have absolutely gorgeous graphics compared to the 2 MS titles. The 2 MS titles maxed out at 640x480 (CART) & 800x600 (MTM2). I seem to have a problem trying to get Ultimate Race Pro to run at 1024x768 (at the moment it runs at 800x600). Dethkarz is the other title which I could run at 1024x768 besides NFS3.

The last 2 titles, Newman Haas Racing & Colin McRae Rally, had mediocre force feedback performance. They were not as realistic as, say, CART or Dethkarz, but they were still much better than NFS 3 in my opinion. At present, I am checking the Internet for any preferred force feedback settings for NFS 3 used by other owners of the MS Wheel.

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