Saitek and its parent company, Mad Catz, have have really stepped up their game with regards to simulation peripherals – beginning a few years ago with a hardcore line of Microsoft Flight Simulator oriented control units. Continuing in this tradition, they have branched out into other areas of simulation gaming. Enter: The Heavy Equipment Precision Control System for PC. When this package arrived at my doorstep, I immediately took note that it was a hefty bundle of peripherals – getting it out of the box could be used for light weight training. The contents of the control system consist of: One steering wheel unit, one side control panel, and a brake and accelerator floor pedal unit. Immediately after unboxing this setup, its build quality became apparent as I dropped it all onto the faux-wood flooring. The three peripherals collided with quite a sound and I went into panic mode: Were they broken?!? No! Thankfully, while the whole system is made from a heavy duty plastic and it is very durable enabling it to survive the fall unharmed.
I pressed on and continued setting everything up. Installation is very easy – the steering wheel and side panel units each have twist on/off attachment points that to a fine job of keeping them both in place. Thanks to the flexible head on the screw that puts pressure on whatever surface the units are c-clamped around, it can work on desktops that even have a slight bend or curve in their design. The steering wheel clamp even has a nice coating of rubber on it to protect the surface of whatever you are clamping it to. Also, everything plugs in via USB cables so you won’t need any special ports to use or anything like that (those of you that remember EPIC cards will be very happy about this).
The control units set up very easily in Farming Simulator 15 which, I might add, is a steal at $29.99, and is the principal game intended for use with this control system. That being said, the controllers are configurable USB devices and could technically be used in any sim title you desire. For instance, the side control panel works especially well in Frontier Developments’ Elite Dangerous. Additionally, you will be very happy using this entire control system with Euro Truck Simulator 2 – especially with the nifty turning knob attached to the steering wheel unit. I kept wanting to reach for an imaginary CB radio and yell “Convoy!” You can even assign the rotary knob on the side control panel as a head turning/view control in the game – pretty nifty stuff here. While the wheel is not the best in terms of design/function for racing games, you can definitely use it for them. There are two paddle controls on the backside of the wheel which can be assigned to shifting gears. Also, I was unable to test it on this game but Saitek claims the peripherals work great with Rail Simulator.
I was not a huge fan of the Farming Simulator series before this peripheral set. After, however, I can’t stop playing it. This peripheral bundle simply takes the game to an entirely new level. Driving the tractors and using cranes has never been so much fun on a PC. Overall, the Saitek / Mad Catz Heavy Equipment Precision Control System is a testament to Saitek’s focus on simulation as a form of entertainment and and is a must-buy for those fans of the farming or utility sim genres. It is a pricey bundle of simulation goodness at $299.99, but you will not find a better heavy equipment sim peripheral set anywhere. Additionally, if you are a sci-fi sim gamer, you can’t go wrong with that side control panel peripheral to add some extra buttons and other controls to your starship, starfighter, etc.