|SteelSeries Simraceway SRW-S1 Wheel|
|Reviews - Featured Reviews: Input Devices|
|Written by Steven Iglesias-Hearst|
|Tuesday, 03 January 2012|
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Testing & Results
Testing a peripheral of this nature is pretty much self explanatory, and because this is a new product there is not wide support with all of the current games. Thankfully though, nearly all games have the ability to customise controls or configure a custom game controller. The only game that makes full use of the SRW-S1 steering wheel's functions is Ignites 'Simraceway' racing simulator. While Simraceway might not be on the top of the pile as racing sims go it certainly isn't all bad. It's just a shame that there are better racing sims out there and that this wheel won't realise its full potential unless there is wider support along the same lines as Logitech, Thrustmaster and Fanatec.
When you talk about motion control and gaming in the same context your mind is instantly drawn to consoles, and if you have tried the various types of motion control options available then I'm sure you will agree that the experience is not all that impressive. The worst problem generally encountered is input lag and next is accuracy, but thankfully neither of these problems are present with the SteelSeries SRW-S1 steering wheel. The worst problem with the SRW-S1 is inherent to its portable design, and that is that you have to hold it in the air. Not only does that introduce extra fatigue during use but it also means that you are not likely to stay in one position for any period of time. You will also find yourself excessively leaning into corners and over dramatising every movement until you become accustomed to the wheel, these are all things that will obviously have an effect on your in game performance.
Don't give up on it yet though, because after only a short period of time you will become used to how the SRW-S1 wheel feels and handles (your mileage will vary) and you will be very grateful for how sensitive to movement it is. I had never really cared too much for sim racing games until now, instead I had preferred the more arcade style of driving. But since I have had the pleasure of testing the SRW-S1 wheel I have found an new level of control for simulated driving. It still can't ever compare to the real thing but it does mean I get to drive insanely fast without putting my life in danger. The gear shift paddles will at first interfere with accelerating and braking but their close proximity to the accelerator and brake pedals means that you won't have to contort your hands to reach the other controls. The Accelerator and brake paddles are spring loaded and pressure sensitive but don't have a great amount of travel, at first this meant I was constantly at max revs and losing control but as with all other aspects of sim racing the key is to make precise movements and once I was used to it I soon found that the limited travel was an advantage when it came to driving as fast I could.
There are many control options for driving games/simulators on the PC and the SteelSeries SRW-S1 steering wheel has to factor somewhere, so to put it into context I have placed in order the levels of control and where I think the SRW-S1 fits in from best (1) to worst (5). Of course you might draw up that list a little differently but that is my personal opinion. The SRW-S1 wheel (without a fixed stand) cannot even begin to compare to a full wheel/pedal setup but absolutely dominates the rest of the field.
Sure it takes some getting used to but when you have found a good racing simulator on which to use it the rest is just history. Which brings me on to my next point, not all racing sims are created equal. Many of thee racing sims I tested the SRW-S1 on were based on the SIMBIN engine, which uses laser scanned tracks for added authenticity but the movement of the vehicle is somewhat far from realistic. Other racing sims I tried may not have had laser scanned tracks but had a more realistic driving experience. The one common thing about all but one of the racing simulators I tried was poor graphics, ranging from outdated engine (DX9) to blocky models to poor shadows. It seemed as though the better looking games had a less realistic driving experience and vice versa. That was of course until I stumbled across Project C.A.R.S (Community Assisted Racing Simulator). Considering that this game is in its pre-Alpha stages and it literally wipes the floor on every other title I played with regards to dynamics, physics and graphics (DX11 vs. DX9) I thought it needed a special mention here. See below for Project CARS gameplay using the SteelSeries SRW-S1 Steering Wheel.