August 19, 2011

My Very First GT Racing Wheel

Not having had a gaming racing wheel before, I decided with the lowered price of the Logitech GT Wheel that this was a good deal to go with my recent purchase of Gran Turismo 5.  What I found after hooking it up to my PS3 is pure, unadulterated video gaming bliss…..

To give you a little back story to my thought process, I think it is retarded to buy gaming accessories to play one game (Rock Band aside).  Wii tennis rackets, golf putters, and baseball bats to fit the Wii controller into will never find their way into my gaming cabinet.  It’s flat-out retarded and wasted plastic from Indonesia.  You shouldn’t need that extra $1.99 piece of shit plastic bat to make you think you’re in Wrigley Field hitting a home run.  Does that even happen, ever? No, it doesn’t.  These are purely instruments for pain as you swing your arms around wildly with the family you love close by.  No thanks.  I somewhat “like” my family.

The point is, I never thought I would break down and be one of those dudes who bought a racing wheel for a game (even if it is the most anticipated racing game in 5 years).  Racing wheels cost a lot of money, and it’s a lot of money to invest into that one game.  A lot of money I could instead put towards one of the next big titles for 2011 (and believe me, there are a lot).  Something inside me stirred up from my stomach and compelled me to jump on the deal.

In the meantime I went ahead and booted up GT5 and trudged through with the Dualshock controller, knowing full well my wheel was on a shipping truck and would be here in a couple of days.
Silver and gold trophies were mine on the A and B licenses, even passing the retarded NASCAR school with a claymation-like Jeff Gordon.  This is just the way I’ve played racing games like the original Dirt, Dirt 2, and even going back to Colin McRae Rally for the better part of my gaming existence.  It’s just normal for me.

Something about the gameplay of GT5 begged to be let loose by the gaming wheel.  I could tell it was different with Gran Turismo 5.  It’s a different type of game.  That this wasn’t just another racing game to be played for a few hours and then be put down for a month or two.  It’s meant to be played for hours, nay, years until GT6 Prologue hits.

So fast forward a few days, and the delivery for the GT wheel is looming.  Every gamer on the face of the earth, they know the feeling and love it when they get gamer magazines from Best Buy, GameStop, Xbox or Nintendo.  It’s something small, video game related, and helps to tickle that gamer muscle.  I don’t necessarily know where that gamer muscle is on your body, but I think it’s that huge vein that runs from the underside of your balls through your taint and up to your butthole.  Yeah, it tickles there.

When you step it up a notch and order games online, it’s a full-fledged male/mail orgasm.  Luckily the mailman is gone when I get my gifts because I would probably be a registered sex offender by now and have to go and introduce myself to all of my neighbors as such. Whew! Thank you mailman!

As I pulled into my driveway, I noticed the gargantuan box on my front stoop that can only be containing a racing wheel.  A shudder of excitement went through my body as I hurried inside to un-wrap my glorious gift from and Logitech.  My girlfriend/fiance or whatever was inside waiting for me to unwrap it.  She knows not to fuck with my packages or mail.

I ripped into that present like Ralphie did his Daisy bolt-action BB gun in A Christmas Story.  The smell of fresh plastic and new gaming equipment wafted into the air.  It is something to be cherished in my house.  You know that smell.  You get a faint whiff of it when you crack open a new game box after destroying the outer cellophane.  That’s a small heroine-sized dose, but you to smell new game instructions, new disc smell that’s been encapsulated for a week from the factory.  It all gives of a distinctive “new car” smell.  To get a five pound racing wheel with pedals is like being given a wedding cake full of awesome all for yourself.  Hell, I wish they would make a Yankee Candle out of that smell.  It’s that damn good.

A few minutes later I briefly skimmed the instructions (which in turn means I just looked to see what all of the languages they included) I was setup and ready to rock.  Insert the USB cable and flip on the PS3 and listen to the GT wheel roar to life.  You see, each time the PS3 goes to the XMB or is kicked on, the GT wheel will do a diagnostic setup for you.   It will roll two and a half turns to the left,  back all the way to the right, and then become centered again ready to get you into the game.  Good thing the Logitech GT wheel has got all of the PS3 buttons neatly placed all over the center dash.

Here I was being a gaming wheel-newb and thinking I needed to use both the Dualshock to navigate the menu AND the wheel to race.  Nice.  This is all I need!  Navigate the entire PS3 console with it if I want to.  And with the little GT light where the horn would be, I could even go into my video library late at night and watch Sex Cruise 5.  Awesome. No more stumbling around in the dark to find my remote and hit the right button.  Oh crap that was the surround sound (house fills with orgasmic noise as Angelica Sin climaxes)!

Getting into my first race was easy.  Even right out of the box, adding the GT wheel with its default settings and calibration brought a whole new level of gaming into my living room.  It fully immersed me into the game like no other controller could.  And with GT5 being a top notch game to accept differing wheels; it changed on the fly to accommodate me.  Before with the Dualshock, I was always minutely tapping the stick left and right, making little constant adjustments to my racing line.  With the GT wheel, it was smooth sailing.  My only beef (albeit a very small one) was before the race even started.  The game would start me on a line just off to the side, and I would have the wheel slightly to the right or left to correct it.  Then when the game would give me control, it would send my car in that direction, possibly bumping into a fellow racer and losing speed.

But after 5 hours into Gran Turismo 5 with the Logitech GT wheel, I finally “get it.”  I was officially  bitten by the “bug”.  The “bug” as I call it is an addiction to the feeling that immerses you into the game even more in a completely new way.  I will always have fun with the game and the GT wheel, but nothing will compare to those first couple of laps with a shit eating grin on my face.  The one that sucks you into the game as you hear the tires squealing in DTS surround sound, feel the forces of the car trying to pull further away from the apex through the wheel, and feel the small bump as you hit the slower guy in front of you.  It’s essentially the same feeling you get if you were to go to an arcade and play Daytona USA, but it’s in your living room with a better sound system (and you don’t have to hear tons of kids screaming).  It’s the same bug that wants you to continually upgrade your wheel, find a better platform to mount it, and possibly invest in a very expensive gaming chair/racing wheel combo.  Well, we’ll have to see about that last one.

Speaking of mounting spots, I did find a suitable place for it (as long as I keep my knees bent out slightly.  Currently I have it mounted on a solid wood TV tray.  The pedals are on the other side of the tray, and the wheel is butted up against the couch as best as possible to give me a seated position.  This will allow my legs to go through the tray and hold it upright with my knees and prevent the legs of it from coming off the ground.  I’ve already had instances with Dirt 2 (which is fucking crazy by the way on the rally stages) where I had the stand come up off the ground because I was going left, right, up a crest and was trying to steer the rally car at 120 mph down a dirt road. That shit is flippin’ nuts in the cockpit view.

To kind of close out this article:  If you have a few bucks (or $90-$100) lying around and you love racing simulators or racing games, using a wheel is the way to go.  It doesn’t have to be anything special (or expensive to get the experience).  I’m perfectly happy with the $89.99 I spent on the wheel I have.  I will continue to make fun of those people who spend $200 or $300 dollars on their racing wheel, but it won’t be much.  They have the same racing bug that I have, but my making fun of them with have a little tinge of jealousy now.

Before it was all just how retarded they were for wasting money on something like that, but now I’m that retarded guy who has a Chuck-E-Cheese edition of Daytona USA in his living room.  And you know what, I’m perfectly fine with that (let’s hope the girlfriend/fiance will cope with it).  I’ll still have a shit-eating grin on my face all the way to the finish line.