Logitech G29 Racing Wheel Review
Hardcore racing sims have lessened in recent years. Whether it's the influx of console racers, or the popularity of same, or maybe just Papyrus leaving the scene, you haven't as many to choose from as there where back in the days of Grand Prix Legends, Nascar Racing 2003, Richard Burns Rally and their ilk.
The majority of modern titles either have woeful arcade physics or aren't designed to utilise a wheel - Forza 6 Apex, Grid Autosport, the list goes on. It's no fault of Logitech of course, just a sad indictment of the way the market was for a while. You can either use the, now somewhat aged, Simbin or Papyrus titles, or only the very latest stuff like PCars, Assetto Corsa etc. There was a long period of time when the only racing offering you could have was Need For Speed or Codemasters Grid series, which was as easy to play on a keyboard as a pad due to the pants physics, so the need for a wheel just wasn't there. Thankfully the advent of Steam and the explosion of Indie developers, as well as both Sony and Microsoft making the most of their powerful consoles to bring more hardcore titles to the masses has meant that there is a place in the gaming world for wheels once more.
Once you escape from the all sizzle, no steak titles and into the ones that require a modicum of skill take full advantage of and thus heighten your rewards, then a wheel becomes an absolute must and the Logitech G29 is an outstanding entry into that marketplace.
If you've never experienced racing with a wheel and pedals then you can stop reading here and go and buy a G29. The difference in immersion is enormous, but it's not just about having controls which match those inside the car. The extra distance from lock to lock over a simple analogue stick enables you to recover from those moments when you lose control far more often than you'd hope to manage with a pad. Indeed it's almost easy to use the G29 to live out on the edge of adhesion where lap times are at their lowest. The combination of a beautifully linear throttle, responsive brake pedal, and smooth wheel turning combine with amazing force feedback to give you all the, erm, feedback you need to ride the leading edge of the performance envelope to new heights.
If you have already got an older wheel setup then the G29 is easily the best of the non-specialist wheels around. Sure you can buy a Fanatec if you've recently won the lottery, but for most of us even the price of the G29 is stretching it for a peripheral. At least that's what you might feel if you haven't actually used one. The moment you grasp it in your sweaty hands though the quality is obvious. The wheel is leather bound, which adds an air of quality and realism to proceedings and is a long way ahead of the Momo Force wheel. There are a lot of buttons on the front, in part because of its Playstation compatibility, but they all feel more robust and have a reassuring click that belies their obviously plastic material. The paddles are metal with microswitches. There is a couple of millimetres travel before the switch engages, useful if you want to pull in anticipation of the peak of the torque curve or just have a twitch in those tense moments.
Pedals are, if anything, the most impressive part of the whole package. What has for years been the weak spot in any wheel and pedals is suddenly the strength. We're not suffering with either plastic pedals, or plastic actuators. They are all metal, beautifully sprung, and so robust that we think their plastic surround will die long before they do. Something that definitely wasn't true of the old Momo wheels. Hell I went through four sets of pedals myself in my career. These are majestic. The clutch has a medium spring on it that just resists enough as you reach the end of the travel. The brakes are the real stars with tons of pressure and resistance to truly give you that real-world brake feel. The throttle is lightly sprung and linear throughout its travel. All three have very accurate sensors meaning that if you're in control of your feet you can hold a particular rev perfectly, or apply just the right amount of braking every time.
Lastly the force feedback utilises helical gears and dual motors to give you all the resistance and tactile cues necessary for fast times and to give a true sense of the grip under your rubber. If we're being insanely pedantic then the microfine, seriously subtle responses you might expect from a very expensive setup are somewhat lacking, but with plenty of options to tune the feedback we guarantee that you'll find a setting that fits you best. There is a moment when your suspension geometry and grip match up perfectly where you can feel the resistance in the wheel melt away and it's absolutely glorious. Yet, it's equally capable of rattling your teeth in crashes or if you're injudicious in your treatment of the kerbs.
Obviously we're focussed largely upon the PC capabilities of the G29, but we also gave it a quick blat in the PS3s Gran Turismo 5 and the PS4s Driveclub, and all the experiences we had on the PC were replicated. Sure you might not be able to spend the night tuning every last detail of the force feedback, but the G29s default settings are great enough that you have a wonderful time anyway. Being able to switch between consoles with just a quick flick of the top-mounted switch rather than fiddling about with adaptors only enhances the user friendliness of the G29.
Negatives? Hmm. Perhaps we'd like the L2 and R2 buttons to be nearer the edge of the wheel. We'd also like a little better indentations on the clamps to enable us to tighten them further without requiring the grip strength of a weightlifter. We're still miffed that the H-Shifter isn't included by default. You need to figure the cost of a shifter if you're a die-hard manual box user. Otherwise there is nothing to complain about.
Fabulous build quality is allied to a much smoother gaming experience and far higher quality feedback than a wheel and pedal set at this price point has any right to have. Once you add in the plentiful buttons and always impressive gear shift lights the Logitech G29 is a spectacular piece of kit for the money and if you've even a passing interest in driving simulations you owe it to yourself and your laptimes to get one.