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Logitech Driving Force Pro (PS2) review: Logitech Driving Force Pro (PS2)

The Logitech Driving Force Pro is most likely the perfect companion for Gran Turismo 4.

Brian Ekberg

See full bio
6 min read

Sony's Gran Turismo series for the PlayStation and PlayStation 2 has long declared itself "the real driving simulator." However, the first two games in the GT series were dependent on the PlayStation Dual Shock controller to guide your car around the track--not exactly the ideal method for a game so firmly rooted in realistic driving performance and control. With 2001's Gran Turismo 3: A-Spec, Logitech introduced a driving wheel specifically designed to be used with that entry in the series, the Logitech GT Force. Here we are, three years later, and the fourth entry in the GT series is set to storm American shores next week. With the launch date looming, we had to check out the Logitech Driving Force Pro, a PS2-only wheel purposefully built to make your Gran Turismo experience as realistic and enjoyable as possible.

9.4

Logitech Driving Force Pro (PS2)

The Good

Multiple gearshift options; 900-degree rotation; thrilling force-feedback response.

The Bad

The best features work with only a handful of PS2 games; wheel can be resistant when exiting turns.

The Bottom Line

The Logitech Driving Force Pro is a wheel that perfectly complements the games it was designed for; if you have a need for GT 4-style speed, this wheel is for you.
0314 Logitech Driving Force Pro
UPDATE 2/23/05: We noticed that the brake pedal on our Logitech Driving Force Pro has started to stick after several days of hard driving on Gran Turismo 4. The pedal sometimes fails to return to its original position after release, leaving the brake slightly engaged when we try to accelerate. We will monitor user feedback and add information as necessary.

The Logitech Driving Force Pro contains all of the components you might expect from a PS2-specific racing wheel: USB port connection, a dual-clamping system for securely fastening the steering unit to a desk or table, eight PS2-specific buttons (circle, square, cross, and triangle, as well as L1, L2, R1, and R2), and gas and brake pedals perched on a solidly constructed no-slip floorboard. Real racing nuts will salivate over some of the special features built into the wheel that really set it apart, such as the 900-degree wheel rotation (for supported games), a choice between wheel-mounted paddles and a sequential stick shifter for changing gears, and force feedback (for supported games).

Installation of the Driving Force Pro is as simple as that of any USB-supported peripheral should be. We simply plugged the wheel into one of our PlayStation 2 USB ports and fired up the game. The wheel automatically calibrated itself throughout its 200- or 900-degree rotation, and we were all set to go. Provided you have a desk, table, or chair to which you can attach the wheel, the two clamping screws securely fasten the Driving Force Pro and open wide enough to accommodate a nice variety of surface widths. The only drawback here is the lack of a built-in lap-attachment option (though it should be noted that Logitech does offer a separately sold attachment). Unless you have such an attachment, you might have to experiment with the height of the table or desk you attach the wheel to in order to attain that ideal setup for living-room driving.

The solid rubber wheel is both sturdy and well constructed and also provides an excellent surface for gripping. Your fingers won't be slipping off this wheel any time soon, no matter how badly your palms sweat during those endurance runs at Laguna Seca. Fans of manual-transmission racing will be pleased to note that the Driving Force Pro gives you a choice between an attractive sequential gear stick and wheel-mounted buttons for shifting gears. Though Logitech refers to the latter as "paddles," they really are buttons, and they are depressed into the wheel itself when pressed. We would have preferred to see the more traditional free-standing paddles on the wheel, if only because that's what we're used to using, but on the other hand, this configuration means there's no chance of these buttons snapping off, as paddles can. As for the stick shift, we liked the feel of it, but found that a careful touch is required. You can't just flick the stick quickly and move your hand back to the wheel, as the stick has a tendency to snap back slightly too hard along its range of motion, which may shift you back to the gear you were trying to shift out of. A bit of practice, or a migration to the sequential gearshift buttons, will cure this problem once and for all.

Even though the gas and brake pedals aren't loose, they could still probably use a bit more resistance to feel properly weighted. The pedal board itself features a combination of rubber grips and pointed plastic grooves to keep the board from sliding on carpet or hardwood floors. In our time with the unit, we didn't experience any unnecessary slippage, even with vigorous use of both pedals.

The 900-degree wheel rotation, available in supported games only, is a nice feature for negotiating those tight hairpin turns. Games that do not support 900-degree wheel movement will default to the more traditional 200-degree setup. In GT4, this two-and-a-half-turn capability makes driving the cars an even more convincing experience, especially when combined with the wheel's remarkably responsive force-feedback support.

If there's a single Gran Turismo 4 experience that best exemplifies the thrilling force-feedback capabilities of the Logitech Driving Force Pro, it's a license test held on the back straight at LeMans--a nearly four-mile stretch of asphalt during which your car will reach speeds in excess of 230mph. As you approach top speed, your car will begin to lose adhesion on the road, and you'll watch as your car, responding to small undulations on the road, skips laterally across the pavement as if dancing on ice. Better yet, you'll be literally fighting your car to stay in a straight line at such ludicrous speeds, as the Logitech Driving Force Pro's force feedback perfectly captures each lateral push and bounce, rocking the wheel violently from side to side. We can say that, without a doubt, it's one of the most thrilling video-game racing sensations we've ever felt.

Force feedback doesn't always have to be so...ahem...forceful to make an impression, however. Another truly impressive aspect of the Driving Force Pro's force-feedback support in GT4 is its subtlety. All of the different road imperfections and variations that you run into in the game are deftly translated to your hands through the wheel, from the bumpy trackside speed strips to the railroad tracks you cross over when racing on the Seattle course. The game's vaunted physics model that deftly pushes cars into tire- screeching drifts or unfortunate spins comes across well through the wheel's resistance to turning against the car's momentum.

If there are any points against the Driving Force Pro's force-feedback system, it's that the wheel is almost too resistant to rotation, especially when coming out of turns. Unlike driving a real car where, when exiting a turn, the wheel naturally returns to its center position without much input from the driver, the Driving Force Pro doesn't seem responsive enough when returning to the center. You may need to force it when navigating a series of tight chicanes. Also, although you will feel some response when colliding with competitors on the track, the force-feedback response tends to ignore heavy contact with walls and other stationary obstacles.

The Logitech Driving Force Pro is the definition of a racing enthusiast's peripheral. While the list of games supported by the wheel is extensive and reaches far into the PS2 back catalog of racers, a smaller number of those games support force feedback and only a handful support the wheel-specific 900-degree rotation features. Furthermore, the force-feedback support found in games such as Burnout 3 and TOCA Race Driver 2, two non-GT games we tested with the wheel, doesn't come close to the kind of subtle and complete feedback found in Gran Turismo 4. As such, the wheel is specifically designed for GT fanatics who are looking to make the most out of their racing sessions. For that select group willing to cope with a fairly hefty price tag, they will find a wheel that is responsive, attractive, and sturdy; one that does what any great driving wheel should do: greatly improve the virtual driving experience.