My first time behind the wheel

Since coming home from China in June I haven't driven a vehicle of any sort for almost a year. One can imagine my urge in getting back behind the wheel again to cruise down the highway in fresh air and in the countryside where there isn't a soul in sight for miles. There was only one problem upon returning home in fulfilling my urge... I have no car. Something told me riding around on my old bike wasn't going to satisfy it either. I needed to buy a car, borrow a car, or steel one... just kidding on that last idea (I suppose I could "test drive" a car for an hour, but that's a lame idea).

Fortunately, I found a temporary solution that was very conveniently waiting at my local GameStop store... an Xbox 360 wheel! While it wasn't exactly the same thing as a real car in any way other than I had a wheel at my finger tips and pedals at my feet, it was the next best thing. I love racing games, so any way to further enhance that feeling of driving through city streets like a madman, especially when there are no consequences of crashing into pedestrians or buildings as there would be in the real world, was good enough for an afternoon of unwinding.

Unpacking the used Xbox360 wheel and pedals, I had no trouble in setting it up and having the system recognize my new toy. There are apparently more expensive wheel kits out there, but the Xbox360 one scored quite a bit better than any 3rd party alternative, fortunately for me in this case. It was solid and steady in my hands when I began to navigate the control menu using the wheel and pedals. This is one of those rare cases where purchasing the cheapest turns out to the best, or so I thought...

After trying the wheel in DiRT and later picking up GTA IV and DiRT's sequel, GRiD, I quickly came to realize there was either one of two things not functioning properly; the wheel wasn't reacting fast enough (as I had already calibrated it), or I was drunk. Alright, I admit there is a third option and that is I am simply a bad driver, but we'll leave that one up for judgment later. The problem was in the "drift" the wheel appeared to have when taking any sort of corners. With any other control setup it was responsive and quick, even if you were all over the road it wasn't a problem in keeping from crashing constantly into the guard rails. With the wheel it kept delaying my turns, which resulted in overcompensation and constant crashes. I simply couldn't keep the car on the tracks.

This led me to the interest in other control systems for consoles, as well as the PC. So, I set out on buying about $450 worth of equipment for the PC, Xbox360, Wii, PS2 and PS3 that I had. I tried everything, from a joystick and gamepad on the PC to more exotic devices such as the Xbox360's wireless guitar for Guitar Hero III (one of my favorite music oriented games). Everything worked as it should have, more or less, except for that Xbox360 wheel. You'd think that I would have found reviews or some community commentary on the problems I was having, but I found surprisingly little concerning anything to do with wheel problems.

I guess I'll be going back to the gamepad, at least until I can afford a new car...

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