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Interact FX Racing Wheel Review

Johnny_B By:
Johnny_B
04/01/99
PRINTER FRIENDLY VERSION
EMAIL TO A FRIEND
GENRE Joystick 
PLAYERS  
PUBLISHER  
DEVELOPER  
RELEASE DATE  

"For the Benefit of the Society Of R/C Car Enthusiasts"

Do any of you remember when you were still little, adorable, uncorrupted, slovenly, rude, disgusting, and perfectly sweet kids? When you could pass away all of your faults will impunity thanks to the fact that your terrible personalities had not yet been etched into your faces? Sure you do! I bet you'd also remember that you must have had a fixation on radio-remote-controlled-racing (R/C) cars!

Yep, those hot babies screamed over cement, gravel, dirt, and charcoal. They flew over jumps, towed your backpacks to school in the morning, and banged up strangers' ankles. All you had to do was move your fingers, press buttons, manipulate two little joysticks or a racing wheel, and magical mayhem ensued with relish!

But now you own a computer, play computer games, and get your jollies from merely simulated blood and gore. When you play a racing game you usually use a full-fledged racing wheel or a gamepad. Gone are those adorable little R/C controllers. If you want to rekindle your youth, feel the thumpa-thumpa-thumpa of Force Feedback, and improve your social life considerably, then the new Interact FX Racing Wheel, an R/C-style Force Feedback racing controller for your PC, may just float your sinking boat.

The FX Racing Wheel fits in your left hand with a sleek, curvaceous, pistol grip. The left hand index finger controls a two way slider that works like a throttle control. There are also 7 buttons along the top of the FX. On the right side is a miniature, R/C-style tire shaped wheel, which is controlled with the right hand. Turn the wheel forward to turn right, back to turn left. Although the direction of the wheel would seem to make it cumbersome and un-intuitive, the wheel feels just fine and steering is natural. It feels natural because although the wheel is on its side, it turns to the same side for the same result as a normal racing wheel.

In you hands, the FX feels very comfortable, much better than most joysticks or racing wheels. Using the FX is a very enjoyable, casual experience that allows the you to recline and lean back while playing Need for Speed 3, while also enjoying the more precise control of a racing wheel rather than a gamepad or keyboard.

The buttons on the FX Racing Wheel are programmable, and the software includes a very intuitive utility to define buttons sets for different driving games and then loads that set whenever the program is launched. The FX may also be set to either analogue or digital modes, depending on your taste.

On top of that, The FX uses the same Direct X Force Feedback protocols as the Microsoft Force Feedback controllers to provide the user with all the shake-rattle-and-roll that makes Force Feedback a more immerse experience. Overall the Force Feedback in the FX is solid, most effects are well rendered and the FX does not seem to have too much of a problem with multiple simultaneous Force Feedback effects. The strength of the effects are somewhat weaker than competing desktop racing wheels, probably attributable to the small nature of the FX and its little wheel. Although the Force Feedback is fun and adds considerably to playing any supported racing game, it seems a little strange for a controller that is meant to look and feel like a radio-remote-controller, to be passing on the shocks and bumps of first-hand-in-driver's-seat diving on to the user.

Overall the FX is a good controller for anyone who doesn't have enough desk space to accommodate a full sized racing wheel and pedal set up, but who still wants better control than purely button based controllers can provide. Or, if your greatest desire is to fire up Dethkarz, set the view to rear elevated, and run the race as though you were racing a 3D rendered child's toy, then this wheel is definitely for you. It fills a niche that has never really been explored much in PC racing controllers, and that alone makes it a cool novelty. But, if you really want the best in racing control, you'd be better advised to look at the FX Racing Wheel's larger brethren.

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