So I bought a wheel…

The Microsoft Wireless Racing Wheel, used, for $55 after a few trades.  Not bad for a quality accessory from a respected manufacturer.  And who’s surprised the racing lemming bought one?  Did Picasso buy brushes?

But you know what?  I wouldn’t recommend it to anyone.  Here’s why.

1.) It’s wireless, except that it isn’t.  Microsoft’s misnomer is, at best, optimistic, but more like a complete lie.  The pedals have to talk to the wheel, which is done through a cheap RJ11 phone cable.  Power can be provided wirelessly via a standard controller power pack, but the force feedback sucks too much juice, and thus requires and wall outlet and power brick.  And let’s not forget your Live headset.

So now you’ve got three cables to tangle with your ‘wireless’ wheel, and there’s a knock at the door.  Good luck getting up gracefully.

2.) Racing wheels are big, and quite physical.  You work your forearms and biceps with a wheel, not your index fingers and thumbs.  And if you’re like most poor gamers, your furniture consists of flat-packed department store pieces and ancient hand-me-downs, both of which have all the stability of a sloshed drunk on rollerblades.  So you’ll either have to move the kitchen table in front of your TV, or invest more money towards a better racing setup.

And last but not least…

3.) It’s pointless.  What, with the game library of the most racing-friendly console available?  Surely, Richie, you jest.  But the truth is that, like my beloved Project Gotham Racing 4, most of those tip the scales on the arcadey side, as opposed to more sim-ish titles like Forza Motorsport 2 and Gran Turismo 4.  Those arcadey games require more of a ‘button mashing’ attitude – full steering lock with the loud pedal to the floor – to go fast and have fun.  Playing the same game with a wheel is like eating pizza with a steak knife and salad fork, only serving to distract from the fun.

But despite all my bashing and hate, you know what the worst part is?  I absolutely love it.  It’s got problems, sure, but for a racing fanatic like me, there’s no substitute.  Anyone less fanatical, however, will probably end up either selling it back or using it as a dust collector in the closet.  You won’t be a better driver with it, and you won’t turn faster lap times, but you will have a lot more fun.

I’ll see you in the game.