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Aaron N. Tubbs

Dragon chaser.

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Sarah got me the Logitech Driving Force Pro for our dating anniversary, which seemed awfully swell. The unfortunate thing was that in Gran Turismo 3, my driving really sucked with it. I felt like the wheel was giving lots of feedback (though not necessarily sensical feedback; I could do about 7 laps before my arms hurt too much), and I just was too used to the traditional controller. Thinking it would just take me a while to adapt, I kept doing silly things like taking a Viper GTS-R, turning off traction control and active stability management, and then racing circuits with it on simulation tires, training myself on steering and throttle control, figuring that once I could drive like that, everything else should fall into place.

After a few days, I was getting better with the wheel, but I was getting winning lap times against the computer on easy only if I was racing a car 2-3 times more powerful than theirs. I did a little better racing something underpowered, like an STI, because I didn’t need to reach so quick. I kept pummeling anything over 500hp into walls. I figured that after months without playing the game, I had lost all of my ability, and that my reaction times were just too slow to handle something fast. Figuring this, I was getting ready to reset my career and start from scratch, knowing that I should be able to drive by the time I had pulled off formula one cars again.

Then I made a discovery. For some background, traditionally when you set something to simulation mode in Gran Turismo 3, it becomes hilariously difficult. An example is switching from racing tires to simulation tires. Suddenly you start scrubbing rubber on every turn, it’s impossible to rotate the car without sliding, and try as you might, you’re constantly oscillating your steering inputs to try to keep the car going in a stright line. It tries to make the car realistic, but without the various other dimensions of feedback that you receive while really racing a car (acceleration, grip tenacity, and so forth), it becomes patently impossible to to well in the video game.

However, when you transition the wheel’s force feedback settings from beginner, amateur, or professional to simulation, something magical occurs. Suddenly I’m putting in brilliant hot laps, better than I ever achieved with the normal controller. Instead of fighting with the wheel to control a car, I’m just feeling bumps in the road, or a tug on the wheel when I hit the rumble strips. In short, it doesn’t feel like a video game, and it’s communicating like a real steering wheel. No longer is the wheel a novelty, but it has become a serious tool for accurate racing in the game.

So my advice to anybody owning said wheel is that if want anything approaching usefulness out of your driving force pro, make sure to enable simulation mode, it will make all of the difference in the world.