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Dee Yun: (contact-deleteme[at]-deleteme-direman [dot] com) 2012-07-20 07:45:54
Fanatec CSR Racing Wheel
I've had issues with comic strip ideas of late, and it's all due entirely to Forza Motorsport 4. I haven't played anything else (excepting a brief stint on The Walking Dead) in a month. It is hands down the finest automotive simulation game to date.
No small factor in this obsession is the Fanatec CSR Wheel. I "did work" on Logitech racing wheels when Gran Turismo consumed me during the PlayStation 2 heyday, and logged at least a few thousand miles on Microsoft's wheel on Forza 2. But Fanatec's offering more deeply and more satisfyingly scratches that virtual driving itch.
Their products are all modular, allowing you to mix and match. The CSR Wheel is terrific. It provides excellent force feedback, clearly communicating the instant your tires shake loose. Its fans are fairly loud, but I only notice them during the still quiet of loading screens. The paddle gear shifters are exceptional; I think I prefer them to the ones in my ACTUAL car. If I had a critique, it'd be that the bits of the outer wheel not covered in alcantara are too plastic.
The weakest component is the H-Shifter. It takes some time to grow accustomed to its clicky, ill-defined gates; I still miss intended gears on occasion. Compounding this problem are the insubstantial hollow rods used to mount the shifter to the racing wheel. They're just too loose and allow the shifter to bounce around. I went with the "Shifter Adapter Set" to hard mount the whole shebang to a stand, and I highly recommend this. But despite the negative tone of this paragraph, WOW I LOVE HAVING A SIX SPEED SHIFTER. There's nothing like braking into an apex just right, and dropping the clutch to downshift and dig back up to speed. My heel-toe technique definitely needs work, and it's badass to have a setup capable of that experience.
The CSR Elite Pedals are pricey, but worth it for any enthusiast. The key is that the brake pedal's response is provided by a load cell sensor as opposed to a potentiometer. What this means is that it detects the amount of pressure applied, like brakes in a real car. Instead of measuring the gross distance of the pedal traveled, the sensitivity allows you to brake with fluctuating control.
All I need now is that Murcielago.