Thursday, 2 August 2012

Thrustmaster Gaming Gear

New to Centre Com is the not so new brand Thrustmaster. With gaming week in full swing I thought it would be good to try out some new Thrustmaster gaming gear!

Thrustmaster is anything but a new company, founded in 1990, the company worked on developing flight control simulations on IBM computers. So basically they know what they’re doing. They did go through a rough patch between 1999 and 2002, releasing a lot of cheap and generally poorly made equipment, however it seems like they are back and better than they have ever been!
Ok so let’s get straight into it, firstly I would like to point out that ever since I first got a PlayStation and started playing racing games I’ve always wanted a steering wheel! Unfortunately for me my parents thought time would be better spent on homework instead of playing games (Deja-vu anyone). Until today (I’m 27 years old mind you) I’d never played with a steering wheel for console or PC (Racing games at Intencity don’t count) so truth be told I was pretty excited at the opportunity to play with one. You couldn’t wipe the smile off my face and I was excited to finally give it a crack!

Ripping through the packaging of the Thurstmaster Ferrari GTExperience I was getting more and more anxious to get it going. Setup was simple as connecting the pedals to the main steering unit via the attached wiring and then plugging the USB cable from the steering unit to your computer. A quick driver installation later and I was ready to go in Dirt 3. Looking at the overall build quality it is not too bad. It does reflect its price a bit with thick plastic being used pretty much everywhere with a few rubbers striped along where you’d be expected to hold the steering wheel from. You will find a few stray pieces of plastic here and there which to be honest can be expected from a $60 steering wheel. You really do get what you pay for with it, but it’s not something that will affect the performance of it.
I won’t lie, the first few races were a bit of a learning curve to try and get used to the awesomeness that it was. The steering goes 90 degrees either way so you are a bit restricted in that sense but I didn’t  find myself the need to go any further to be honest. It is pretty sensitive enough to allow it to not need any more than it offers (you can change the sensitivity on it).

All the buttons on the unit can be configured to virtually whatever you want. The steering wheel is also compatible with PS3’s so it has all the buttons you’ll usually find on a PS3 controller. The steering wheel comes with a nice clamp that allows it to be sturdily placed on your table, however I did tend to pull it out a few times and I found myself needing to push it back in to sit over the table again properly. The sections that actually touch the table do have rubber padding on them to prevent such slips but there just doesn’t seem to be enough grip to really keep it planted. Of course as always though this can come down to a user problem, I was pretty vigorous at times in my steering so if you’re a bit more calm headed and easy driver you may not find this to be an issue. The pedals on the other hand are quite good and responsive. I had it here on a carpet surface and did find it to slide back a few times but this something that can be easily overcome by putting something behind (most would simply have a wall) so I don’t think this should be a concern for anyone.
The feedback on the unit is good but not great. It’s just enough to give you a bit of a shaky hand but doesn’t really offer a punch or a big hit when you accidentally lose control of your Subaru rally car and hit a tree causing you to do a 720 spin (not implying this actually happened…)
Overall a great steering wheel, so great that I bought one! Not the first time I’ve reviewed something and then gone and bought it! For my first steering wheel I am happy with it and can’t wait to have some fun with it! If you’re looking for your first steering wheel purchase, I can safely highly recommend this one!

Next was the Thrustmaster T.Flight Hotas X Joystick for both PC and PS3. Now, I didn’t have a game to test this bad boy on so I quickly looked over the unit to see its build quality and functions. For around the same price as the steering wheel this seemed to be a better build. Stronger and sturdier plastic with much better and more rubber grips gave it a bit more premium feel that what it is. The joystick and throttle level feel great and extremely solid. It has gre1at resistive settings to suit your needs and overall just looks and feels great!
So far with both these entry level Thrustmaster gaming gear I got to say I am impressed. Though not the prettiest and strongest they offer great performance to price ratio and bring joys of entertainment for hours!

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