Sony PlayStation Move Racing Wheel review: Sony simplifies racing-wheel setup

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The Good Easy to set up, the Sony PlayStation Move Racing Wheel delivers precision steering in racing games. The handles fold out, turning the wheel into motorcycle handlebars.

The Bad You must have the Move motion controller system to use the Move Racing Wheel. You can't charge the Move baton without removing it from the wheel.

The Bottom Line Despite a couple of limitations, the Sony Move Racing Wheel performs well, delivering a good sense of steering a car in racing games, and is much easier to set up than a full racing wheel.

8.0 Overall

When I want to immerse myself in a racing game, I drag my Logitech Driving Force GT wheel out, clamp it to a makeshift bench, and set the pedals on the floor. The lengthy setup means I don't use it all that much. With the wireless Move Racing Wheel, Sony sets out to remove the inconvenience of a big, fixed racing wheel, but ends up sacrificing some of the immersion.

An accessory for the PlayStation Move motion controller system, the Move Racing Wheel adds a relatively cheap, versatile means of making it feel like you are steering the cars in racing games. Instead of an actual wheel, you grip two vertical handles sticking down from the plastic Move Racing Wheel. Turning the entire apparatus on an imaginary pivot point at its center causes the motion control accessory to turn a vehicle's wheels in a PlayStation 3 game.

The X, square, circle, and triangle buttons sit above the right handle, while the directional buttons sit above the left. Triggers at the back of the handles work for actions such as accelerating or braking. A clever feature is that the handles can be opened out, making the Move Racing Wheel resemble motorcycle handlebars. The right handle turns like a motorcycle accelerator, as well.

The big caveat with the Move Racing Wheel is that it works only with the Move motion controller system. You have to insert one of the Move batons through the center of the wheel, plugging it into an accessory port in the base of the baton. Slipping the baton into place requires maneuvering the wrist strap through the hole and around the port.

One flaw I find is that, with the baton plugged into the Move Racing Wheel, the baton's charging port is covered. To recharge the baton, you need to unplug it from the wheel, as there is no pass-through charging port.

Kart and car
Testing the Move Racing Wheel with LittleBigPlanet Karting, Burnout Paradise, and Gran Turismo 5 led to some arm-twisting antics and a few lessons in ergonomics. For each game, trying to hold the wheel in front of my chest like a real steering wheel made it difficult to control the cars, throwing off the motion controller. It also quickly became uncomfortable, although the wheel isn't very heavy. Propping my elbows on my knees reduced the strain and, more importantly, kept the wheel steadier. Of course, you wouldn't drive a real car in this position, hence reducing the immersion afforded by a fixed racing wheel. There are no pedals.

Sony PlayStation Move Racing Wheel
The standard PS3 control buttons sit above the right handle, and are easy to tap while driving. James Martin/CNET

In LittleBigPlanet Karting, the lack of a realistic car feel from the controller was offset by the whimsical and imaginary nature of the game. The wheel was well-suited for the game's controls: the drift and weapon buttons were easily tapped while steering the karts. The precision of the controller was truly impressive, as I was able to turn heavily or lightly, affecting the onscreen kart's turn appropriately. However, I still felt the lack of a fixed pivot compromised precision.

The Move Racing Wheel remains useful when deciding which of the LittleBigPlanet Karting worlds to visit, and works for selecting new costumes and kart decorations with the directional buttons. But it doesn't work very well for the creation aspect of the game, where the standard PS3 controller is the better choice.

In Burnout Paradise, the Move Racing Wheel steers the cars available in the game, with the right trigger serving as the accelerator. The left trigger conveniently puts the car in reverse. As with the standard PS3 controller, the square button hits the brakes and the X activates boost. With this game in particular, it helps to support elbows on knees or another surface, as it quickly gets out of control trying to hold the wheel aloft while steering.

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