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Mad Catz Wireless Force Feedback Wheel for Xbox 360® Review

Mad Catz Officially Licensed Wireless Force Feedback Wheel Review

Intro. Briefing on: OpenWheeler, OpenWheeler+, T500 RS, TH8 RS transmission, Ferrari F1 Wheel Add-On, Ferrari 458 Italia and Ferrari 458 Cockpit.

More than seven years after Microsoft Xbox 360 high grade, powerful for the time video gaming console's premiere, Xbox 360 steering wheels are still a deficiency on the market. There are at least a hundred PS3 wheels on the contrary, so Sony PlayStation 3's better sales can be explained pretty easy. Support has never been Microsoft Xbox's strong side since the very first Xbox back in 2002. A further curious tendency is that once the steering wheels were a computer racing accessory only. Well, except for the late seventies and early eighties' full-size coin-operated simulator rigs, but the equipment inside was again usually branded with computer as a part of the name. Nevertheless, nowadays the console-certified steering wheel sets are much more in demand. Ever since the times of Donkey Kong and other famous Nintendo arcades, as well as very early driving simulators where our parents gave all their pocket money. Games like Pole Position, Hard Drivin' and Outrun all offered a never-seen driving realism, you could drive: Lotus Esprit, Lamborghini Countach and many other famous cars we had in our sticker's collections when we were kids. All these games though, were only playable in video game centres on the driving simulators there which, in addition to being pricier than real cars, required strong power supply, industrial floor surface and a whole room. Having such one installed in your bedroom was a common and frequently told dream at the time. Luckily, today you can easily get hold of your favourite console, your Xbox 360 steering wheel set, for example and the ultimate driving pleasure provider - the ergonomic OpenWheeler gaming seat. And you can have it all near your desk, in front of a standard TV screen at an affordable price! Living in the 21st century does have a sweet set of advantages, especially for car-driving zealots. The OpenWheeler can be paired to any steering wheel for PS3, Xbox 360 wheel or a PC steering wheel you can find/may have. Probably the most stunning simulator experience as of current moment (at an affordable price, hence professional driving simulator sets for thousands are also an alternative, though not of interest to us) will be achieved with the set of: OpenWheeler+ gaming seat, Thrustmaster T500 RS steering wheel set and the top-reviewed and searched for TH8 RS eight-speed transmission, and the Ferrari F1 Wheel Add-On for really having the universal elite equipment. The OpenWheeler+ has a convenient Gear Shifter Mount for the latter. Such a set is though only compatible with PC or SonyPlaystation 3 by reason of licenses, mentioned above in the paragraph. For Xbox 360 owners, one of the best options is the Thrustmaster Ferrari 458 Italia and the Openwheeler gaming seat, you will have a finest-quality multifunctional Xbox 360 steering wheel and the durable metal frame chassis simulator. However, you may not be willing to invest that much at the very moment. You don't have the funds or you're still a beginner and you're reluctant to spend more than the reasonable minimum (for not getting a no-name poor-quality steering wheel that is to literally brake off in your hands in a few weeks) for a gaming accessory. In such case you're the perfect match for a Mad Catz wheel. It is difficult to define a hierarchy, and difficult to share an objective one if you're offering any steering wheel sets. Still, we've decided to give it a shot. Thrustmaster wheels are on top today - they have a large fleet of models in stock 24/7 and it's them who introduced the top-quality T500 RS followed by the impressive aluminium 11-centimetre-gear-lever H-pattern-and-sequential-in-one gearbox - the TH8 RS. These two just need to be mentioned in reviews all around, the way they're among simulator racing players (in forums, last but not least in person) - having only minor cons but great innovativeness and no-compromise materials used. Thrustmaster also offer many other models to satisfy every racer's needs. Ferrari fans have their dreams fulfilled with the Ferrari Vibration GT Cockpit 458 Italia that is a budget solution for a full driving simulator. Just like the Ferrari 458 Italia steering wheel, the latter is based on the real driving wheel of Ferrari 458 Italia GT car. And despite of being smaller in size (for understandable reasons), the 7/10 replicas offer similar functionality - no fake buttons, the Manettino is now available for Xbox 360 owners as well. So are the Ferrari 458 Italia and Ferrari 458 Cockpit. Then come the Logitech wheels - both the G27 and G25 are still available (but often out of stock in many places and at non-realistic prices on other), the Driving Force GT is still an adequate alternative in the mid-segment, etc. And finally there are the Mad Catz wheels. Selection is narrower and some models simply don't qualify for the Sunday race. Yet, in their upper product line, especially for Xbox 360 steering wheels, there are a few notable and well-functional alternatives which probably should have better reputation. They're at least promising enough for brief reviewing, we can say for sure. Such is the E3 2011 announced Mad Catz Officially Licensed Wireless Force Feedback Wheel for Xbox 360. It is an Xbox 360 steering wheel only, so there's no better test than the totally awesome Forza Motorsport 4! Let's take its outside description first.

Revealing the Mad Catz Wireless Force Feedback Wheel for Xbox 360, layout and mounting. Recommending the T500 RS, Ferrari 458 Italia, 458 Cockpit and OW game seat.

Revealing the Mad Catz Wireless Force Feedback Wheel for Xbox 360, layout and mounting.After unpacking Mad Catz Officially Licensed Wireless Force Feedback Wheel for Xbox 360 we were at first a bit surprised by its weight. Despite of its barebone-styled looks and the not-that-much-metal-as-advertised, it has the feel of a real driving wheel, rather than a toy. Expectedly much better than the MC2 racing wheel set. The gear changing paddles, the gear stick and the wheel spokes are metal, the rest is plastic. In general: fair enough. If you're really looking for a prevailing brushed metal steering wheel, there is one that is to truly satisfy this request, along with all the rest you may think of - the top Thrustmaster wheel - T500 RS driving wheel set. It's not an Xbox 360 wheel unfortunately, so unless you have a decent computer and you're ready to use it for game play, any further details about this masterpiece are a bit irrelevant here. Yet, the Wireless Force Feedback Wheel for Xbox 360 is solid and good durability should be provided. Especially, if you pair it to the stainless steel ergonomic OpenWheeler gaming seat simulator which it fits perfectly. Mad Catz Officially Licensed Wireless Force Feedback Wheel for Xbox 360 has a self-explanatory name - it is a steering wheel for Xbox 360 only. Again, if you're looking for more universal compatibility in a similar, even pleasantly lower price-range you can obtain the Thrustmaster Ferrari 458 Italia that also matches the sterling OpenWheeler or the Ferrari Vibration GT Cockpit 458 Italia which actually does not. Being a cockpit though, it's an adequate budget option for racers who'll only need to get hold of a racing seat or a stiff support ergonomic seat in addition to it. The Wireless Force Feedback Wheel for Xbox 360's main advantage is also contained in its name - the wireless connectivity. It works adequately within the sight of your screen in a large room. There's a power cord for the pedals unit - a bit too short (some six feet), but extension cords are not expensive. True, such one should have been provided for the price. The wheel circle is generously covered in thick rubber for comfortable handling. The gear stick is detachable and it can be positioned on either side of the wheel unit, an invaluable advantage for all these drivers around the world used to driving on the wrong side of the road, and a clever option indeed. The paddles are responsive and adequately-sized. For an Xbox 360 wheel only, all the buttons of the standard Xbox 360 are expected to be installed. That's not the case, though. The right-stick and left-stick aren't. Their functions are divided between the shifting paddles and the gear lever. They also need to be re-assigned in pair. It means that in racing games like Test Drive Unlimited 2 (where the sticks are used for off-track parts of the game) you won't have full functionality. All the rest of the buttons (Start, Back, Home, Y, X, B, A) and the D-pad are usefully positioned similarly to the gamepad. On the rear part of the steering wheel unit, there's a handy button which is to be used for synchronizing the Mad Catz Officially Licensed Wireless Force Feedback Wheel for Xbox 360 with your Xbox 360 console. You also need to do this every time you update the firmware through the mini-USB port (under a tiny screwed panel: marked) which can be made on a Windows PC. A very serious advantage of this particular wheel, updating its firmware you'll keep its compatibility as up-to-date as possible for all the games to come in recent future. There's also an Xbox Live headset port on the backside of the wheel. Older Xbox headsets (mute switch on the plug) are not supported. There are two mounting options for the wheel unit - you can either clamp it to a desk/table or have it in your lap while racing. We didn't test the lap-mounting extensively and we don't believe any adult non-beginner racer would. To be honest, they fit a standard-sized man, so they are just workable enough, once you decide stability can be neglected. The desk rubber-based clamp can be used, once the lap pads are unscrewed. The clamp itself is sturdy, but you're going to need a rather stable and no side-out keyboard tray desk for it. Alternatively, take a look at our OpenWheeler gaming seat which is designed to shelter the Wireless Force Feedback Wheel for Xbox 360 steadily and provide you a health-saving racer's position throughout extensive races. The pedals are inverted similarly to one of the options for Thrustmaster T500 RS and a very rare setup in the non-professional segment. It's the only position available here still it's a definite advantage. The unit on the other hand is too light, so there's no trouble-free way to mount it on a regular floor, especially if carpeted. The foot rest underneath is wide enough for longer hours of racing. However the distance between the accelerator and the brake should have been shorter. They're too far apart compared to the Ferrari 458 Italia steering wheel set for example and to real sports cars as well (Nissan 370Z, Ford Mustang GT, etc.) This could have been compensated if heel and toe set-up was available. It isn't... The resulting low-resistance is pretty annoying because in dynamic races it's not really nice having to wait for your pedals to return to the neutral position after you release them, every second counts. To sum up, the pedals are undoubtedly this Mad Catz wheel weakest point. It's finally the time to briefly test it with our beloved Forza Motorsport 4 and the spanking new (sharing the same engine) Forza Horizon!

Wireless FFB Wheel for Xbox 360's in-game performance. Recommending the Forza Motorsport series, Ferrari 458 Cockpit and OpenWheeler gaming seat.

Wireless FFB Wheel for Xbox 360's in-game performanceFrom the very first game of the series - the fabulous Forza Motorsport in 2005, Forza-series has redefined the simulator racing genre. The revolutionary particle is that it embodies, what's more, it's actually the connecting link between arcades and simulators. In Forza Horizon for example, you can destroy stuff, there's an actual realistic Colorado state's open-world. There are even off-road areas. On the other hand, all the rides included do behave true-to-life, similarly to iRacing. It is the link between the latter, the Need for Speed- and the Burnout-series. There's the drifting part, the closed tracks.., yet you can even race hot air balloons in some showcase events. This very game itself is worth purchasing a Microsoft Xbox 360, an Xbox 360 steering wheel (esp. if computer support is also available) and the OpenWheeler gaming seat! More on it is to come in a separate review, excuse us for going into any kind of specific details. However, any steering wheel that adequately supports this game title is worth considering. The Mad Catz Officially Licensed Wireless Force Feedback Wheel for Xbox 360 does. First of all - force feedback. It's definitely present. It's probably stronger than necessary sometimes (so you'll have to carefully adjust it), but that's always better than its lack. You will be able to feel all the bumps, cracks and paving on all the officially advertised, as many as 65 terrain variations. They are a lot and pretty differing, that's what we can say for sure. You'll feel every moment off the road like you're in a real car. Yes, it's because of the force feedback the AC power adaptor is needed (so that the wheel can't be completely wireless), and it's worth it! The gear changing paddles rotate with the wheel and offer a quick response. The only omission here is the positive click when changing the gears. So, if you're looking for more refined feedback, and you find the last-mentioned melodious confirming sound essential, you may consider the Thrustmaster Ferrari Vibration GT Cockpit 458 Italia PC/Xbox 360 set. The Wireless Force Feedback Wheel for Xbox 360's 270-degree rotation is not that much but for the Forza and Need for Speed-series it works good enough for beginner racers. You just need to be firmly seated and the turning circle available will do the job just fine. So, you'd best find a suitable racing seat for your Ferrari 458 Cockpit or go through the OpenWheeler specs. All the buttons were easy to press and despite of not having a Manettino, the set-up is sufficient enough for all standard and most of the advanced settings you could require to have at hand during races. The pedals should have been better, yet they are usable after you get accustomed to them in a couple of competitions. What you can't fix with a screwdriver or a shoe box is their weight. Once you mount them in the OpenWheeler gaming seat though, this disadvantage will instantly disappear and decent precision is to be reached. A clutch would have been a nice component. But such is not an option for any mid-range priced Xbox 360 wheel we can think of the very moment, apart from upper mid-range, not that affordable priced Fanatec. That's why we won't regard this as a major flaw, it won't be objective. And having the universally compatible OpenWheeler simulator, you'll have a high-class simulator racing set at your home, whatever wheel you choose.

OpenWheeler racing seat's main advantages.

The OpenWheeler gaming seat is without a doubt the best match for your Mad Catz Officially Licensed Wireless Force Feedback Wheel for Xbox 360 or the Ferrari 458 Italia. Alternatively, any different PC, Xbox 360 or PS3 wheel you can find on market. Its seat is textured with long-wearing 100% polyester. The pedal unit stretch is variable, because of the sleek black and red racing seat sliding on metal rails. For your convenience, the ergonomic back and shoulder support OpenWheeler is fully-foldable, so you can store it in a standard wardrobe or cabinet. The two in-built front wheels, along with the hard floor protectors we provide do make it possible to move your OpenWheeler gaming seat all around your room easily and trouble-free for any kind of floor surface.

OpenWheeler - price and shipping.

The OpenWheeler gaming seat can be ordered for just £270. If you do so, free next business day shipping will be included to any address within the boundaries of the United Kingdom, as well as 20% UK VAT. Get your ergonomic simulator seat, adjust your steering wheel set the way it suits you best, load your favourite racing game and hit the track!


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