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Caprice Bourret


Force RS Racing System


We did some hardcore driving with the included Need for Speed III as well as our current racing fave, Roll Cage Stage II from Psygnosis. After hours and hours of gameplay, we were just awed by how well this system worked. First and foremost, we have to say that the steering wheel itself is incredibly comfortable. The cushioned, leather-wrapped wheel is just the right size and holds up well after long stretches of tense, perspiration drenched high-speed racing. The F1 shifter paddles were rock solid and easy to use -- never once a distraction. Steering was tight and consistently and evenly responsive. It was a marked improvement over the jerky, over-reacting wheels that we have used in the past.

Another thing we liked about this system was that the force effects actually seem to make sense. We have not been fans of force effects in the past, but this time things were different. When you hit the wall -- you feel it. When someone runs into you, you feel it. When you go over bumpy roads -- it feels like you are going over bumpy roads -- at least from the hands through the arms it does. The only things that could make it better are if the foot pedals and our chair was wired with force effects as well.

Speaking of the pedals, they were spot on as well. The base is large and heavy enough so that it does not move around, and since the surface is heavily textured, feet stay put. Resistance is just right, as is the angle of the throw when you slam you foot on the break or the gas pedal. The pedal supports are made from a sturdy metal and the pedals themselves are raised into a position very similar to how they would be in a real car.

In Need for Speed III, we kept the gas pedal off the floor just a bit, and found that if we cruised around 60 or 70 mph, we never headed off the road or into a ditch. When we floored it and spun out in the gravel, the wheel tugged and rumbled so that we had to fight it to get back on the road. It was almost eerie -- we almost caught ourselves looking around us to see if there were any witnesses to the spin-out. We realize that Need for Speed III is not the graphic kingpin at this stage, so we opted to fire up Roll Cage Stage II at 1600x1200x32 with all the visual and force feedback effects on. We set the zoom level to maximum so that there was no cockpit or dials -- just open road, and when the count hit zero, we were off like a rocket. We circled the Republic Track fearlessly and after a few rounds, we were whipping around without leaving the track. In both games we found that the RS Shifter was just not as easy for us to use as the F1 paddles under the wheel. It took too much effort to fight the strong tugs of the wheel for us to take one hand off of it and shift gears. The hardware functioned great, but the choice to use it will likely be a matter of preference.


Overall: The ACT LABS Force RS Racing System is simply the best product in its class. The construction is incredible, the functionality is nearly flawless and the design is extremely well thought out and implemented. The two axis, multi-button design is simple yet highly effective and the drivers show a level of stability that few products seem to have these days. Force effects can be adjusted to fit specific preferences, and the system can even be adjusted for resistance in non-force feedback games. The F1 style shifters are perfectly placed behind the comfortable, leather-wrapped wheel and most buttons are within easy reach, even for smaller hands. For those who are into controlling every aspect of their system, the RS Shifter add-on is a very good option. The included plastic shift-plates help make the product easier to use for basic racing games, and there are more custom metal plates available directly from ACT LABS -- you can even put on a custom shifter knob if you want to. If you are a fan of PC racing games, there is no better option at this cost level.


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