Taking advantage of a 24-hour sale at Memory Express and finally upgrading to a toy steering wheel that’s a bit more… shall we say… relevant… I’m still not entirely sold on the Logitech G29. While both aesthetically pleasing and functionally sound, Logitech’s newest consumer racing wheel for the PC, PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One (depending on the sub-model you choose to purchase) simply isn’t worth the $499 USD asking price. There is not enough in the box to warrant such an enormous price hike compared to previous Logitech offerings, and those looking to upgrade from an older Logitech product in an effort to future-proof their simulator setups may come away extremely disappointed from the package. I personally am kind of satisfied with my purchase, but objectively, many people won’t be. And it’s time to talk about that.
Now before we begin, many of you have undoubtedly heard the horror stories surrounding the G29, and some are most likely wondering why in God’s name I willingly went out and bought this relatively new product from Logitech despite the overwhelming number of negative customer reviews. It all boils down to a trio of key reasons, and I’ll outline them to give y’all an indication of why I pushed aside my trusty Driving Force GT with Logitech G27 pedals for an expensive side-grade.
- Many lazy developers are failing to add support for multiple USB devices. On no less than three separate occasions this year, I purchased a game I could not play. WRC 6, NASCAR Heat, and Sebastien Loeb Rally Evo all required me to dig out my Xbox 360 pad, as the three applications did not include functionality for multiple inputs when configuring your controller. If I buy something that’s intended for a hardcore racing game audience, I fully expect it to accommodate the needs of said hardcore audience – and part of that is allowing people to use their fancy third party handbrake, H-Shifter, and even pedal attachments. With my current setup, I was left waiting for either a community mod or a patch from the developers themselves, immediately after booting up the game’s executable for the first time. With a Logitech G29, I wouldn’t have that problem.
- I own a backwards compatible PlayStation 3, and basically every racing game under the sun. I’ve spent entire nights blasting through Need for Speed Hot Pursuit 2, Gran Turismo 6, or NASCAR 2005: Chase for the Cup with the default plastic pedals that come bundled with the Driving Force GT. Despite having to wrap a bungee cord around the brake pedal to provide artificial resistance, these games are phenomenal with a wheel, and I wanted a PlayStation 3-compatible wheel that came with a solid set of pedals from the get-go because the amount of time I invested into these older titles warranted a decent wheel for them, not Fischer Price plastic under my feet.
- I will eventually purchase a PlayStation 4. Yes, I’m missing my Madden and NHL fix, but with DriveClub turning into a somewhat competent arcade racer, Project CARS dropping in price and bundling all of the DLC together in a Game of the Year Edition, as well as Gran Turismo Sport and Project CARS 2 appearing on the horizon, the PlayStation 4 is actually turning into a decent platform for racing games of all sub-genres, and that’s only going to continue in the future.
I can’t recall the last time I’ve done a hardware review, if ever, so lets dig into what the Logitech G29 does, and doesn’t have to offer.
The overall build quality and design of the Logitech G29 is really phenomenal – this is a gorgeous looking wheel compared to the G27 that’s been in basically everybody’s homes since it was first introduced. It feels nice in your hands, it’s quiet under normal gameplay circumstances, and the abundance of buttons is exactly what I was looking for after using the Driving Force GT for a solid four and a half years. When it comes to configuring the controller, most of the buttons actually remain in the same location as the Driving Force GT had them laid out in, meaning it took almost no time at all to map the new layout – I could literally take my DFGT settings, change three buttons, re-do the pedals, and hit save.
This increase in quality extends to the profiler, which has seen a much-needed facelift – though some sliders have actually been removed. Personally, I’m digging the change, though some will miss the ability to adjust the springs and dampers. If those options are in the profiler, I haven’t seen them yet.
Regarding the pedals, the Logitech G29 essentially uses the exact same model of pedals found in the G27, with the only change coming in the form of the brake pedal – which has been modified into acting like a load cell. In short, you push the brake to about 40% of what would normally be full input on the G27, and it instead stops unexpectedly – requiring you to physically put additional pressure on the pedal for the rest of the input range. In my opinion, it’s given me an added level of control over my car and I’ve taken to the new approach required for braking quite quickly, but I can see the rubber piece acting as a load cell failing in the hands of someone who’s hard on their equipment. I can’t imagine the part is very robust with the way it feels under my foot. The brake is also too sensitive by default, and I found myself turning the sensitivity slider down to about 25%, because the original setting of 50% was insane.
Depending on how often you rely on an H-Shifter for historic cars, the outright omission of the stick from the base Logitech G29 package can be a deal breaker. I personally haven’t used an H-Shifter for years because it’s slower in a competitive format – no questions asked – but those who hold immersion as more important than online results will be choked to discover that the price hike saw less stuff fall out of the box when you tipped it upside down. I don’t care for the lack of an H-Shifter, but many will.
It took around two nights to get fully accustomed to driving with the Logitech G29. While it may be using a portion of the same underlying hardware as the G27 to power the wheel, it certainly feels much smoother and more refined than the G27 – and it’s really the first time I’ve driven Automobilista where the cars felt comfortable to whip around the various circuits available. The G29 does not shake or rattle around in your hands – the biggest complaints of the G27 by far – but instead matches the aesthetic improvements by offering a driving experience where you can gently place the car where you want it to go; wheeling it when necessary. It’s the exact kind of improvements owners of the G27 have been asking for, but unless your G27 is literally falling apart in your hands, it’s hard to justify binning your G27 for a G29.
The biggest difference, as mentioned above, is how the brake pedal operates under racing conditions. Rather than memorizing how far you have to push the pedal in each corner on a specific track, you can ride the pedal on entry – as you would in real life – and give a quick stab of the brake as you approach the apex to help the car rotate. Dustin and I have been shaking down the Aero88 mod in NASCAR Racing 2003 Season for… reasons… and it was truly impressive how dynamic your driving style becomes with a load cell-like contraption such as the one Logitech have implemented into the G29.
Here’s where things get upsetting. Gran Turismo 6 with the Logitech G29 is a fantastic experience; I’m really glad I’ve finally gotten to try this game with a properly built wheel, as it confirms my original findings when I gave the controversial car collecting title an equally controversial shakedown earlier in the year. However, when I took the plunge on some of my favorite PlayStation 2 games – fully compatible with the Logitech Driving Force GT as well as the G27 – the Logitech G29 absolutely shit the bed. I mean, the wheel didn’t work at all.
I loaded up NASCAR 2005: Chase for the Cup – quite a wonderful game with my Driving Force GT – and the wheel pulled hard left immediately after receiving control of the car from the CPU when leaving pit road. The wheel simply wasn’t recognized in Enthusia Professional Racing – my car remaining stagnant on the grid with the wheel turned all the way to the left – and lastly, I couldn’t even navigate the menus in Need for Speed Underground; the “Start” button having been mapped to one of the D-Pad directions. Despite the G29 powered largely by the same firmware as the Logitech G27 and Driving Force GT, which can be used on basically every older PlayStation title known to man so long as you’re playing it on a Sony Console, this compatibility has mysteriously been revoked for the Logitech G29. That’s not cool.
The trade-off for the lack of compatibility with PlayStation 2 titles is most likely PlayStation 4 compatibility, though the risk of future proofing your setup for titles that aren’t even on the shelves yet is a bit of a gamble. I know Gran Turismo 4 is an awesome game, and I’d love to play it with a wheel. What we don’t know, is what Gran Turismo Sport will look like when it’s sitting on the shelves for $60. I know Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit 2 is the best racing game ever released for the PlayStation 2, and I’d love to play it with a wheel. What we don’t know, is how Project CARS 2 or DiRT 4 will look.
I don’t understand why Logitech suddenly abandoned compatibility with PlayStation 2 games on the fat-model PlayStation 3, when it’s available in other wheels running similar firmware.
It’s a bit out of left field, but the popular Nintendo home console emulator Dolphin actually includes steering wheel support, allowing you to bust out a single input device such as the Logitech G29 for use in one of the few hardcore racing games released for either the GameCube or Wii. I was able to dial in the G29 to such an extent, I was slaughtering the AI on Legend difficulty in NASCAR Thunder 2003, to the point where any thought I had of playing through the games’ extensive career mode went out the window once I compared my practice times to the lap at the top of the board in qualifying. While not a direct testament to the quality of the G29, this goes to show the kind of additional gaming options you have when purchasing a single-input device, compared to the standard mix-and-match configurations that most sim racers opt for.
Here’s where the issue with the Logitech G29 arises: the cost. Without factoring in flash sales or special discounts, the MSRP is an astounding $500 USD, a full $200 more than the G27’s launch price of $300 USD all the way back in 2009. You do not receive an H-Shifter in the base package – as you would with the G27 – and the reduced compatibility now prohibits you from playing games that were once fully compatible with previous Logitech wheels you may still have hooked up to your PC or PS3. The abundance of buttons on the face of the wheel, while extremely useful for hardcore PC sim racers compared to the shitty layout of the G27 which placed half of them on the shifter, were already seen on the Driving Force GT – a wheel which retailed for $110 USD at launch. It is absolutely insane for a company to charge upwards of $500 (including taxes) for a product that isn’t a demonstrable upgrade in every single aspect from their previous releases. It’s got less functionality, doesn’t come with an H-Shifter, features a button layout that Logitech themselves admitted doesn’t cost a whole lot to implement based on the price of the DFGT, yet retails for $200 more. It’s astounding this MSRP got past the drawing board, and was actually approved by multiple suits at Logitech.
You are essentially paying an extra $200 to future-proof your PlayStation 4, and that’s bullshit for one very distinct reason: Many racing games on the PlayStation 4, aside from DriveClub and Gran Turismo Sport (which hasn’t even come out yet), are multi-platform releases. Unless you plan on picking up a PlayStation 4 or Xbox One in the near future and know you’ll dive into Gran Turismo or Forza alongside Call of Duty or Madden – as the Logitech G920 is the exact same product for Microsoft’s current console – you can completely avoid this wheel. Provided you aren’t running one of those budget Ferrari Thrustmaster offerings, whatever you’ve got in front of you right now is more than adequate for your needs.