I was well and truly stuck about a third of the way through the A Class races in Gran Turismo 5 Prologue. When you're starting in last place and playing catch up with an equally powerful car, making just one mistake means you're toast - especially on a speedway-style circuit.
I'd all but given up on the thought of beating the game until Logitech told me they were sending over a Driving Force GT. It probably won't come as a shock when I tell you that Gran Turismo 5 Prologue comes alive when it's played with a force-feedback wheel.
The jump between a Sixaxis and the Driving Force GT is of a similar magnitude to the jump between the 8-way digital joysticks of the 16-bit era and the dual-analogs of recent years. You can feel the car lose traction, and intuitively wrestle the back end into submission.
All of a sudden I could actually compete. Not only could I reliably take someone under heavy brakes, I could gently guide a car around the High Speed Ring without losing traction on the corners and losing valuable speed. A couple of hours later I'd beaten the game and was going back through the B and C Class races taking first place where my prior best was second or third.
The step up in realism and immersion this wheel provides is amazing, especially for those of you who've still yet to upgrade to a rumbling DualShock 3 controller. Where before, shunting an opponent at 120 miles per hour was an entirely unconvincing event, the Driving Force GT packs sufficient punch to make the collision believable.
The Driving Force GT's feature set pales in comparison to the G25, Logitech's premium offering, and Fanatec's Porsche Wheel Turbo S - both packing a six-speed shifter and metal pedals, including a clutch - however it comes in at half the price. Thankfully, Logitech hasn't skimped on the build quality in order to reach a lower price point - it's a sturdy unit that doesn't feel or sound like plastic.
Logitech Driving Force GT pedals for the PlayStation 3.
Logitech's main addition to the Driving Force GT is the real-time adjustment dial. If you're still not on top of what the Traction Control System or brake bias actually does for your car, the 24-position dial can really help you out. It's difficult to tell the difference between a TCS setting of 6 and 7 when you've had to wait for the menu to load, change the setting and wait for the race to load again - now you can try things out on the fly, and run with what works.
The only problem now is waiting for the full-blown Gran Turismo 5 - as those five tracks in Prologue will only get you so far. Those of you who still have a PlayStation 2 could always replay Gran Turismo 3 and Gran Turismo 4, as the Driving Force GT is backwards-compatible.
The Driving Force GT is available now at Amazon for US$149.99. The RRP for Australia is AUD$249.95.