Everything we do is (still) driven by Ferrari.
The engine-steamy love affair between high-profile peripheral designers Thrustmaster (obvious sex jokes aside) and high-class luxury brand Ferrari has never been secretive. I mean, I'm surprised that the two companies haven't tied the knot already, especially with all the products they give birth to year by year like clockwork. Sweet, beautiful clockwork. But Thrustmaster's new peripheral isn't just any old controller, but the first stand-up racing controller compatible for the Xbox 360 (and PC) known as none other but the Ferrari Vibration GT Cockpit 458 Italia Edition.
All right, that was a mouthful, but again, this is no ordinary product. Modeled after the Ferrari 458 Italia, the cockpit features a built-in wheel, a pedal set, and a metal chassis that's adjustable for height and angle and collapsible enough to fit beneath a couch or be tucked away in a closet. Priced between a casual racing wheel and an ultimate racing simulator (on which Indy car driver Oriol Servia provided a
beatdown demonstration at the Thrustmaster event I attended), this peripheral costs $299.99, a premium price point but not so high that hardcore racing gamers can't afford it.
Testing out the cockpit on Forza Motorsport 4 and F1 2011, I didn't anticipate just how much it would improve the experience. Of course, toggling on all of the driving assists still made turning extremely easy, but once I tried my hand (unbeknownst to me at the time) at a simulation experience, I was slipping and sliding around the track like a fool. Luckily, I learned from my mistakes quickly and made sure that my gas pedaling was more gradual aroud the corner. After one terrible race, I crossed the line in first place with my rivals more than twenty seconds behind. Ha, suckers.
It also doesn't hurt that the Ferrari 458 Italia Cockpit, true to its name, has a realistic feel. The wheel at 11.2 inches and with a textured rubber grip is a 7/10-scale replica of the real thing. Embedded along the lower-right corner of the wheel is the distinguished Manettino dial, which in this case doesn't control suspension, electronic differentials, and other doodads that racing nuts fawn over, but it does control the viewing perspective.
Two gear shifts are safely behind the racing wheel so that they're within hand's reach, and the entire peripheral has full force feedback throughout the body to simulate the natural vibration through a vehicle. The base weighs 22 pounds, enough that you won't need to mount anything to a desk. Last but not the least, it has a slot for a headset for easy multiplayer gaming.
The Ferrari Vibration GT Cockpit 458 Italia Edition will be available in September is already ready for pre-order off buythrustmaster.com.