reviews\ Dec 19, 2002 at 7:00 pm

Logitech MOMO Racing Force Feedback Wheel - PC - Review

Rock solid performance, great styling, and added features, at a very reasonable price, will make this Force Feedback wheel a MUST HAVE item for any serious racing gamer!

Computer games have pressed the envelope of realism with photorealistic landscapes and real-time Gameplay that was unimagined a mere ten years ago. And while these games are ultra realistic, they often miss their true potential because the gamer lacks the proper controller for the game genre. To me there is nothing more frustrating than trying to race with a keyboard or joystick! Real cars have steering wheels, peddles, and gear shift levers, so why shouldn't your game?

Several years ago the Industry leaders, Microsoft came out with their Sidewinder Force Feedback Steering Wheel. To date this wheel has been the industry standard which all others have been judged against. Hey Microsoft, prepare to move over! The new Logitech MOMO Racing Force Feedback Wheel is here and is loaded with performance, styling, features, and a price that Microsoft can't touch!

I have reviewed many racing games for over the last year and a half. Most were reviewed using one of several controllers. I have a Traxxas Controller that simulates the controllers used by radio controlled racers, several assorted joysticks, and a Saitek R100 Racing Wheel (non-feedback). As well I have on many occasions used a Microsoft Sidewinder Force Feedback wheel. All of these controllers work great and have given me many hours of racing with no problems...............until I received the Logitech MOMO for review, now the problem is what to do with all these other controllers!

First let’s take a look at the MOMO's exterior. This wheel is very large and heavy compared to other wheels and utilizes a three clamp system to securely anchor this beast. The ten inch wheel is beautifully styled in matte black and is entirely encased in rubber for a comfortable secure grip. Wheel provides 240 degrees of rotation. There are six easy to reach buttons in the wheels center, and two shift paddles, one located on each side of the wheel. Oh did I mention the gear shift knob? Yes there is a gear shift knob within easy reach of the wheel, and it is transferable from side to side for either right or left handed shifting! The peddles are large full sized and mounted on a large pad with rubber pads to prevent slippage on smooth floors. This pad also has a fold down carpet strip that has rows of small teeth to prevent the pad from sliding when used on carpet. One other thing I noticed right away was that the brake peddle actually has resistance as a real brake peddle would! The whole system connects to your computer through a USB cable, and being a Force Feedback unit has a separate plug in power supply.

The MOMO does require special drivers and programming to operate and those are provided via an included CD, installation is pretty quick and easy and step by step instructions are also included. One of the neatest things in this wheels programming is its ability to scan your hard drives, recognize the games stored there and offer you the ability to set the wheels settings for each game and then save these settings so that each time you load a game, the wheel is already perfectly set up and ready to go! Very Nice Guys! All buttons, paddles, steering and accel/brake axis, and shift knob, are programmable so that you can set up the wheels controls to your own custom settings.

I used several games while testing the MOMO wheel, NASCAR THUNDER 2003, TOTAL IMMERSION RACING, 4X4 EVO 2, and RALLISPORT CHALLENGE, all of which I have previously reviewed for this site; those reviews are archived for your referral.

I started with NASCAR Thunder 2003, which is one of my favorite racing games, and was amazed at the difference that this FF (Force Feedback) wheel made! Coming out of turn two at
Michigan, there is a seam where the pavement in the turn meets the pavement that makes up the straight away, without FF, the car simply rolled over this seam without any indication of any surface change at all. With the FF, that seam has a definite dip or bump that can be felt through the wheel. There is also a good feel of the G force on the car in the turns as the car tends to push out towards the wall. Then there is the occasional trip through the infield grass, a very bumpy ride with the FF on. Sequential shifting using the shift knob is very quick and easy to reach without releasing you grip on the wheel which gives you the added control of manual shifting at your finger tips. Solid braking and progressive throttle control through the peddles also add more control. Altogether a very realistic feel is added to this game using this new MOMO FF wheel.

I then moved on to Total Immersion Racing, a game which I did not care for too much when I did the review on it. With the MOMO wheel on default settings, the game was much easier to control and that did add to the enjoyment factor. With a few custom adjustments to the controls, such as adjusting the braking force and steering response, the game drove much better than before. Again the textures in the track became very evident, bumps, dips, and the rumble strips in the turns all take on a new and realistic aspect not available when using a non-feedback wheel. Had this game been reviewed with this MOMO wheel it would probably received a slightly higher rating.

Next we plugged into another favorite of mine, and the only off road racing game used in the testing, 4X4 Evo 2. This game took a little more time to set up as I did adjust both throttle and brake responses as well as shifting, and Force Feedback settings several times before I reached a comfortable "Ride," this process was not as bad as it sounds and all the settings are now saved so I won't have to go through that again. Being an off-road racing game there is lots of rough road and tons of thing to run over and bang into. The force feedback really got a work out with this game and at points nearly ripped my arm off, it got to flailing back and forth so hard! At on point in the test, the MOMO FF wheel actually tore the keyboard tray off my computer desk which all came crashing down into my lap! So after a brief intermission to rebuild the keyboard tray (I used extra long heavy duty screws to put the tray back together as the originals were rather small and wimpy) I was back on the trail.  (This is where I went back in and turned down the feedback force level a little) This game was absolutely amazing using the MOMO wheel, fast shifts, and dead-on steering, made off-road driving so much more realistic than before, you can actually "feel" the ground beneath your truck. I spent several hours playing this game, a big grin on my face the whole time, this was one game made and designed for this wheel!

The final game used in the testing was Microsoft's Rallisport Challenge, This rally racing game gives you both on-road and off-road racing surfaces and seemed a natural choice for a force feedback wheel. When this game was played with a standard wheel, it was a blast. When played with the new MOMO wheel, it becomes an unbelievable experience. Again you can actually feel the road surface change beneath your cars as you traverse from asphalt to gravel to dirt. Sharp precise shifting gives you unparalleled control over your cars power to the ground which can be crucial during a full four wheel drift through a tight turn. As with the other games, the ability to adjust your throttle response and braking points has a profound effect on your ability to control your car. This game also required me to go in and reset the controller settings a couple of times until I found the combination that worked best, but after that was done the game played so smooth and sweet, it was nearly a whole new game.

So with all the gaming out of the way, I guess it's time to look at the pros and cons on this new Force feedback wheel and then give you my final rating.

Reviewer's Conclusions

Great styling, this wheel looks as if it were just wrenched out of a real life GT racer!

Triple clamp system keeps this brute securely anchored.

Rock solid performance. Tight steering response, quick precise shifting, easy to reach buttons, throttle and brake peddles that are full sized and responsive.

Features that include a shift knob that is easy to reach and can be switched from side to side, a rubber coated wheel that is comfortable as well as good looking, the ability to recognize your games and save all settings for each game. Full sized non-slip peddle pad.

Quality, this wheel shows quality all the way, from it programming to the feel of the controls. From the fit and look to the packaging, and everything in between!

A suggested retail price of less than $100, that's a full $5.00 less than the Microsoft Sidewinder wheel and the MOMO has more features!

This wheel is large and may present some storage issues for anyone who doesn't use it everyday (but if you had this wheel you would want to use it every day)!

All the clamp screws could have used larger knobs for easier tightening

With this wheels list of  features and rock solid performance, it is very hard to imagine any improvements that could be made...the MOMO is near perfection and a clear step above any controller I have ever used!
This product is a definite must have for the serious racing gamer. Superior quality, features, performance and value all rolled up into one great looking package. This is one wheel that deserves a serious look from anyone looking to buy a Force Feedback wheel and shows that Logitech has taken the needs of gamers very seriously and is dedicated to providing top notch products at value prices.


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