On many occasions over the last couple of years, I’ve come extremely close to yielding to temptation and buying the Logitech G25, which was widely considered to be the best consumer-level simulation racing wheel on the market. But each time, I managed to resist in the hopes that Logitech would finally release its long awaited successor. That has now finally happened, and after waiting a long time, I finally got my hands on the Logitech G27. As expected, this wheel doesn’t come cheap, and at Rs 25,000, this one is only for the most hardcore sim racers. But is it enough of an improvement over the G25?__STARTQUOTE__At Rs 25,000, the G27 is only for the most hardcore sim racers.__ENDQUOTE__ If you keep the G25 and G27 side-by-side on a table, it might take you a while to tell the two apart. They look almost identical, and considering that the G25 wasn’t the best looking wheel around, it’s disappointing that Logitech didn’t put enough time and effort (if any) into a newer design. But look closer and two differences jump out at you. The top of the central portion of the wheel features a sequence of LED lights which act as an RPM meter to aid in shifting gears. Secondly, there are now six customizable buttons on the wheel, as opposed to two on the G25. While more is definitely better, the buttons seem a little too close together, and in the thick of the action, the chances of pressing the wrong one are quite high.
While it isn’t the best looking wheel around, the build quality is top notch. The wheel grip is made of high-quality leather, while the central portion and the paddle shifters behind it use brushed metal. The pedal unit looks almost identical to that of the G25, but it feels less flimsy now, and you can now make subtle adjustments to the spacing of the pedals as well as the resistance they offer when pushed. One major complaint about the G25 was that all three pedals were at the same height. In the G27 though, the accelerator sits a little deeper than the clutch and brake, which works a lot better if you like to perform heel-toe shifts.
Another major change, and one that might irk many purists, is in the gear shifter. The G25 gave you the option to choose between sequential shifting and the H shifter (which you commonly find in road cars), with a knob that let you switch between the two. The G27 ditches the sequential shifter entirely, so the H shifter is all you get. In doing so however, they’ve improved the shifter tremendously, and gear shifts are a lot more natural and reassuring in the G27. I personally don’t mind this change, because anyone who likes sequential shifting can use the shifter paddles that are located at the back of the wheel.
The biggest potential deal breaker with the G27 is the mess of cables it creates. There are three cables that lead to the wheel unit – one each from the power socket, pedal base, and gear shifter, plus a USB cable leading from the wheel to your PC, PS2 or PS3. In the age of wireless connectivity, this cumbersome trail of cables is hard to forgive or overlook, especially at this exorbitant price. The wheel and the gear shifter also feature plastic clamps with which you must attach them securely to a table top. Chances are that your existing PC table top will be insufficient, so you’ll probably need a dedicated desk for your wheel setup; one with enough leg room to accommodate the pedal base underneath it. Unlike some lower end wheels, there isn’t an option to get racing by placing the wheel on your lap.
So after bringing in an additional table, clamping the wheel and shifter on, and connecting all the cables, I was ready to hit the track. The wheel was instantly detected by Windows 7, and a bundled disc allows you to install the game profiler software, that lets you create profiles for each of your games, customize controls for them, and launch the game from there itself. You also have the option to download game game profiles off the internet and import them. I first tested the wheel out on the PC with rFacotr, GTR2, and Race Driver: Grid.
A common problem is that many of the popular racing sims that enjoy fanatical community support are years old now, and since the G27 only released a few months ago, it doesn’t fully support many of the older games. GTR2 is a prime example. While I did get the wheel working with the game and the force feedback was fairly strong, the LEDs didn’t work with the game. rFactor, on the other hand, is fully supported right out of the box, complete with full force feedback, LED support, and pre-assigned commands for all the customizable buttons. This was the game that really let the G27 stretch its legs and show off what it was all about. After a few laps, controlling the game with the wheel became instinctive. As I got accustomed to the wheel and the force feedback, lap times started shrinking, cornering became easier, and it quickly became apparent why people spend so much money on racing wheels. There is no better way to play sim racers.
Race Driver: Grid then dropped by to spoil the party. Not only does the game not natively support the G27, but it doesn’t even detect it as a generic racing wheel. After reading through a few forum posts and tweaking the G25 support file in the game’s setup folder, I was able to get the wheel working in Grid, but force feedback was weak and the overall the experience was underwhelming. While Logitech should have added support for popular games such as this out of the box, it would be harsh to fault the wheel for not supporting a two year-old game.
Next, I plugged the wheel into the PS3, and again, compatibility was not an issue. DiRT 2 was the first game to announce support for the G27. In fact, Codemasters pledged their support even before Logitech had official announced the G27. So naturally, the first game I tried was DiRT 2, and as expected, it supports the wheel just fine. But arcadey off-roaders aren’t really what the G27 is built for, so I then moved to Gran Turismo 5: Prologue. The game’s developer, Polyphony Digital, and Logitech work very closely together so it was no surprise to find that this game too supported the wheel just fine, with good force feedback and clutch support. However, the game features dedicated option menus for a range of Logitech racing wheels, but it doesn’t list either the G25 or the G27 there. Hopefully, the full game, which is scheduled for release this year, will fully support the wheel. Lastly, just for kicks, I decided to see how well Midnight Club: Los Angeles fared with the wheel. Not surprisingly, it didn’t support the wheel at all.
In the games that properly supported it, the G27 worked flawlessly and showed why enthusiasts spend such crazy amounts for the added realism that racing wheels offer. Force feedback was appropriately strong, and clutch and gear shifters work really well for those who prefer playing with manual transmission. The lack of support for many of the older games is a concern, so if you’re looking for full support for games like GTR2 or Grid, you may be disappointed. Also equally important is the wheel’s space requirement and mess of cables it brings along. It’s very hard to overlook and anyone but the most uncompromising sim racing fan will be easily put off by it.
The G27 isn’t a drastic improvement over the G25, but an improvement it is, and that means that a great racing wheel just got a little bit better. But let me reiterate - this wheel is only a worthy purchase if you’re going to use it in manual transmission in hardcore sim racing games. If you’re more of a Need for Speed or Midnight Club fan, you should consider getting Logitech’s own Driving Force GT instead, which costs less than half of what the G27 does.
Published Date: Jun 09, 2010 01:05 pm | Updated Date: Jun 09, 2010 01:05 pm