Microsoft Sidewinder Force Feedback 2
Requires: USB port, Windows XP/2000/ME/98
Tactile feedback is very important to deaf gamers. The chance to actually feel the game can add so much more enjoyment. Of course if you are into flight simulations or any other title that demands a top-notch joystick, then the chances are force feedback is an essential part of the gameplay experience. Microsoft have been making force feedback wheels and joysticks for many years now and have certainly earned there reputation of making the best (and most durable) of all PC peripherals.
The Microsoft Sidewinder Force Feedback joystick has gained legendary status amongst PC flight sim enthusiasts. Not only was the stick comfortable to hold the force feedback effects were spot on and outshone other competitor's products on the market at that time. The Microsoft Sidewinder Force Feedback 2 is, as you would expect, a refining of the classic joystick. Let's take a look at it.
Installation & Drivers
It couldn't be simpler really. You pop in the Driver CD-ROM, follow the installation process and connect the Joystick to a USB port when told to do so. The installation went very smoothly and the Sidewinder Force Feedback 2 worked perfectly without a hitch. The Sidewinder Game Controller Software couldn't be easier to use. Programming the buttons (should you want to, it isn't required) to suit a particular game is very straightforward. There are a collection of profiles included, which is very handy.
The look and feel of the Sidewinder Force Feedback 2 is very impressive. The size of the oval is approximately 255mm across and is comfortable to situate on a desk or even your lap. Surprisingly the Sidewinder Force Feedback 2 doesn't actually get that warm, even with extended play so full marks go to the design team for the cooling mechanism they've employed. The stick feels very comfortable indeed and with its slightly rubberised grip you'll never lose control even with the sweatiest of palms. The eight-way hat switch is wonderful and despite my initial apprehension of the smiley face layout of the 2nd, 3rd and 4th buttons on the top of the stick they proved to be very comfortable indeed. The trigger button is slightly oversized compared to other joysticks but once again it's very comfortable to use. The four base mounted buttons are only slightly raised but I still found them comfortable and very responsive. The only area where I feel the Sidewinder Force Feedback 2 could be improved is the throttle. In my opinion it doesn't offer enough resistance or travel. It is precise though and once you're used to it, the limited travel and resistance isn't a problem.
This is where the Sidewinder Force Feedback 2 really scores. The forces are beautifully defined. So many force feedback devices on the market either simply rumble or have effects that are far too forceful and lack definition. I tested the Sidewinder Force Feedback 2 with Flight Simulator 2002, MotoGP and X Beyond the Frontier. I was very impressed with clear and well-defined forces. MotoGP and Flight Simulator 2002 were far more immersive experiences with the Sidewinder Force Feedback 2. However the Sidewinder Force Feedback 2 doesn't feature any auto centre feature when you're playing a non-force feedback game but if you want to play non-force feedback games you don't need to buy a force feedback joystick now do you?
This is one heck of a joystick. For just under £90 this is a superb product. The only things you could say against the Sidewinder Force Feedback 2 is that it is exclusively, ergonomically designed for right handed gamers and the throttle could do with improving. The force feedback is excellent and well defined and the stick is very comfortable even after a really long play session. It's still the best PC joystick you can currently buy.
Gamers Rating: 9.2/10