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Fanatec Speedster 3 Force Shock Wheel Review

About.com Rating 5 Star Rating


Fanatec Speedster 3 Force Shock Wheel Review
This is hands down the best wheel you can buy for the Xbox. Solid construction, great design, amazingly realistic force feedback, and outstanding performance with each and every game we tried with it make the Speedster 3 wheel from Fanatec very easy to recommend. It carries a $150 price tag, which seems high considering that the Xbox itself is only $150, but if you are a big racing game fan it is money well spent because this wheel is awesome.

Steering Wheels = More Fun

I started my review of the Mad Catz MC2 Universal Wheel a few months ago with a warning that using a steering wheel peripheral probably won’t make you a better videogame driver. I still stand by that statement, but I will say that you’ll learn things and improve much more quickly with the Speedster 3 wheel than other wheels because this is simply a higher quality wheel.

Using a wheel is one of the most satisfying ways to play games because you not only get the thrill of building your car in games such as Forza Motorsport and NFSU2, but you also get the enjoyment of taking your creation out on the road and getting a reasonably realistic feel for how it performs. How else are you going to ever drive a Dodge Viper or tricked out Nissan Skyline at 200+MPH other than in a videogame? With a wheel, particularly the Speedster 3, you get many of the same thrills without all of the expense or the danger and I think that is a pretty fair trade. It isn’t exactly the same as a real car and for most people it isn’t going to improve your lap times, but it is considerably more fun and that is what counts.


The Speedster 3 comes with a steering wheel unit with paddle shifters, a foot pedal unit, a clamp to mount the steering wheel to a table (you can also sit it on your lap, of course), and a power source. There are twelve buttons on the steering wheel which cover the A,B,X,Y, White, Black, and left and right thumbstick buttons along with Back and Start buttons. The two F1-style paddle shifters can be programmed to perform any function you want, which is very handy for games where an emergency brake or nitrous button are important. A d-pad sits in the center of the wheel and a second racecar-style start button is located on the dash to the left of the wheel.

That is all pretty standard stuff, though. The features that make the Speedster 3 stand at the head of the class are the tuning options and force feedback. There is a motor inside the wheel which reacts to what is happening on the race track and provides resistance when you turn just like a real car. You can also tune dead zone, sensitivity, resistance, force feedback, and more to make the wheel perform exactly how you want it to. Another nice feature is there are memory card slots on the wheel unit so you can easily use a headset with Xbox Live.


In the box you’ll find a steering wheel unit, pedal unit, mounting clamp, and power source. All you have to do is plug the pedals and power source into the steering wheel and the steering wheel into your Xbox and you are good to go. It is a bit annoying, I have to admit, to have a separate power source for the wheel (because I have too darn many things plugged in already) but it really lets you know just how much power is behind the force feedback motor. When you turn on your Xbox, the wheel will automatically calibrate itself and it is pretty cool to see it moving by itself. There are preset configurations for Forza Motorsport, Need for Speed Underground, and TOCA Race Driver 2 and I actually found these settings worked just fine for all of the other games I tried with the wheel. There is also an open configuration slot that you can set up however you want, but for most people it won’t be necessary. If you do want to tweak the settings, you can adjust dead zone, sensitivity, steering resistance, force feedback filter, and vibration to create a perfect setup for whatever game you are playing. Like I said, though, the presets do a fine job on their own.
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