Logitech. The name brings up thoughts of numerous gaming peripherals from mice to pro flight yokes. The DriveFX is Logitech’s current racing wheel for the Xbox 360. It touts several features and we are about to get down and dirty with the unit to put them to the test.
* Axial Feedback Technology: Get behind the wheel and let the authentic road feel guide your way.
* Standard Xbox 360® Buttons: Jump right in without learning anything new.
* Adjustable-Sensitivity Steering: Put customizable control in your grasp.
* Gas and Brake Pedals: Get instant response with true-to-life pedals.
* Wheel-Mounted Paddle Shifters: Shift through the gears lightning fast with F-1 style paddle.
* Injection Molded Wheel: Keep your hands comfortable with this seamless 10-inch wheel.
* Soft Rubber Grips: High grade non-slip grips provide unparalleled comfort during intense racing.
Design/Construction: The DriveFX is primarily made of black, hard plastic. It has a sharp, professional appearance which exudes quality. The DriveFX is not a lap-friendly wheel, meaning it was designed to be clamped down to a table, desk, or gaming chair mount of less than three inches thick. This is evident in the two large clamps that extend from the bottom of the unit. Any gamer familiar with a pro-flight yoke for their PC knows what I say is true: the unit is VERY stable when clamped down to a surface, even though in this case the clamps are not rubberized. So while many gamers will miss the ability to slap a racing wheel onto their laps and play, trust us when we say: This is better.
The construction of the DriveFX’s wheel is excellent. It feels very solid and the rugged rubber grips add a great amount of control when turning the wheel. Two small paddle shifters are located on the back side of the wheel. They are not levers but instead, buttons activated by angled plastic pieces that replicate paddles. Even though the button press is not as realistic as a lever’s motion, it is more precise and consistent. The standard Xbox controller buttons and directional ‘D’ pad are located in the inner-area of the wheel. They were all within reach of my thumbs which allowed me to easily activate them while in the middle of a race.
The wheel unit is connected via serial port to the pedal unit. The pedals are the weaker of the two links in this package, as they do not feel nearly as solid as the wheel. In addition, the pedals’ base unit where they expect you to rest your foot was not long enough for my feet and I only wear size 13 men’s shoes. Alright, so that may be asking alot, but with it being as thin as it is, my foot was not at the most comfortable of angles to hit the pedals. It would be fine for maybe 45 minutes of play, but after that my lower legs would definitely need some moving about. The pedals are pressure sensitive, which adds a great deal of control to accelerating and braking while gaming, so that is one great thing about them.
The serial port connects to the back side of the wheel unit next to the input for the included AC adapter. Unfortunately, there is no fastening device (thumbscrews or otherwise) to keep the serial connector in the port. If moved around, the connector could come loose.
Gaming: We tested our wheel out in Burnout Paradise as well as Forza 2. The features we have mentioned thus far are all well and good while gaming. The unit is very sturdy and reliable. THE best feature of this unit however, is its ‘Axial-Feedback’ technology. Microsoft has been stingy with its trademarked Force Feedback platform, so only select wheels can use it. The DriveFX is one peripheral that cannot use it, so Logitech has created their own feedback system which is almost as good – better in some respects.
The Axial Feedback system detects rumble signals that would normally be translated into a shaky control pad and instead, attempts to translate that into wheel feedback. Running off the track will cause the wheel to vibrate and give you enough feedback to know something is a miss and you should watch where you are going. This feedback response is just one part of the Axial Feedback system and is where Force Feedback would be better as the effect was never strong enough for our tastes.
Aside from this, there is an absolutely amazing counter-torsion or, return-to-center, drag inherent in the Axial Feedback system. Most times in Force Feedback wheels, the return to center effect is too unnatural, feeling like you are being shoved back to the center point instead of how a real car acts, more like a gentle dragging motion. The DriveFX captures this ‘drag’ very well, and is where the AF system thrives and pulls ahead of a Force Feedback design. If there was a way to get Force Feedback effects with the Axial Feedback’s return-to-center drag the unit would be a perfect 10.
Conclusion: Logitech’s DriveFX gaming wheel is an excellent choice for driving games on the Xbox 360. While not a true ‘Force Feedback’ wheel, it outshines that technology in it’s counter-torsion effect. In addition, it is the sturdiest, most rugged wheel we have seen for the console at this time.