For a long time, Logitech ruled the roost for racing fans on console, thanks to the affordability and the understated quality of the Driving Force GT. Yet the tables have turned with the advent of the latest generation of hardware, and Thrustmaster and Fanatec have taken a firm hold of the niche market for racing wheels, in lieu of compatible products from Logitech. With a new line of wheels recently released however, Logitech is hoping to reverse that trend.
The Logitech G29 Force – their first wheel to support the PlayStation 4, which appears alongside the G920 for Xbox One – quite clearly takes inspiration from the wheels that went before. The button layout on the wheel’s face has more than a few touches of the Driving Force GT, with the prominent red selection dial and the + and – buttons which were best integrated into Gran Turismo 5 and 6 on the PlayStation 3. They hold the same purpose here as well – you can switch between PS3 and PS4 modes, with the latter letting you control the PS4’s menus without the need for an additional controller – but also ensure that there are more assignable buttons in racing games which do not use them by default, which is especially handy for games like Project CARS.
However, beyond that, this is a natural evolution over the G25 and G27 wheels which were once Logitech’s high end. This isn’t a perfectly round wheel, however, with a flattened base that acts as a visual opposite to the small blue metal strip that lets you know the wheel is centred in your peripheral vision. There’s a high level of build quality on show, with a hand-stitched effect to the leather, which is much more pleasing to the touch and better to use for extended periods of time than a rubber wheel.
The centre panel is largely a brush-metal look, interrupted by a few buttons, with my only real complaint with the layout being that some buttons don’t really sit under your thumbs and you need to stretch or move your hands to reach them. There’s also a rather curious style of switch used for the L3 and R3 buttons, with a trigger arm that reaches behind the metal face. It’s unusual, but an oddly nice little touch. Behind the main wheel there are the two gear shift paddles, which are on the squishy side of things, but do have a nice click to them as they are triggered.
However, perhaps the best small touch is that of the LED strip that sits just about the PlayStation logo. Games like F1 2015 and Project CARS have built in support to use this as an indicator for when you approach your rev limiter, and it’s a clever little touch that sits in your periphery as another tool for knowing when to shift up as you accelerate. Of course, you tend to have the revs shown in a game’s HUD, but if you wish to head closer to realism, remove the HUD and even the in-cockpit rendered wheel, it means you still have that visual point of reference.
The wheel sits attached to a quite surprisingly small and compact base, especially when compared to the big and bulky T300, but is even smaller than that of the DFGT. Of course, the reason for that is with the motor that provide’s the wheel’s force feedback. Where Thrustmaster have their brushless motor and smooth dual belt feedback system, the G29 still relies on a gear-based mechanism, so that you can feel the tiny increments of the teeth as you fight against the FFB motors. There is also a noticeable ability to turn the wheel by a degree or two before the gears will bite, though it’s something that fades into irrelevance in the heat of the moment.
The strength of force feedback you get really depends on the game. I found it to be comparable to the Driving Force GT when I returned to Gran Turismo 6, but that was much weaker than maxing out the feedback strength in Project CARS. Unfortunately having to go by memory, it didn’t feel quite as strong as the T300RS, as I remember.
The upshot is that the small wheelbase is fairly quiet, depending on how much force you put through the wheel, and doesn’t require a fan too cool itself after extended use – though it does get warm to the touch. However, it also has some built in cable management built into the underside of the base. There are ports for power, the pedals and the optional Driving Force Shifter gear stick, alongside a USB cable, but these are then all fed through four moulded channels, so that all four cables come out of the rear centre of the wheel. It’s neat and elegant, especially for a permanent or semi-permanent set up, but does add a little time if you to set up and pack it away after each gaming session.
Another positive is that you get much better pedals as standard, compared to the similarly priced T300 – both have an RRP of £299. This is a three pedal set, compared to just two, with a nice and distinct feel to them all and a pleasing progressive resistance as you stamp down on the brakes hard. There’s also a carpet gripper built into the bottom, which means that the pedals simply do not move as you push hard.
Game support is rather decent on PS4, with Driveclub, F1 2014 and Project CARS all recognising it perfectly. The main exception from my PS4 catalogue of racing games is that The Crew was completely oblivious to its existence, though hopefully that will be addressed when that game’s expansion ships later this year. Switching it to PS3 mode and returning to Gran Turismo 6 was similarly flawless, with the GT-specific buttons and dial working exactly as they did on the DFGT, and you can expect it to act like a G25/7 in other games as well. There are also drivers for Windows, which will extend support to plenty more racers there.
Of course, regardless of the quality of the wheel, so much of the decision behind buying a G29 or not will come down to the price and how it compares to its competitors. Without the gear shifter included in the box, it’s a step down from the G25 and G27 that went before, and the force feedback isn’t as smooth as that of the Thrustmaster T300RS, which is the wheel’s main competitor. On the other hand, it doesn’t need you to then consider buying upgrades and choose from a wide array of optional parts and replacements, because the wheel is much nicer to the touch and you have three pedals; the G29 feels more like a final purchase rather than a gateway to more.