While playing Twisted Metal: Black earlier today, we noticed that hidden within the debug menus of the preview copy we've been playing was a submenu full of force feedback tweaks, all of which were preceded by the word "Logitech." They seemed to be geared toward Logitech's force feedback wheel, which was released earlier this month in Japan alongside Gran Turismo 3: A-Spec. Putting two and two together, we plugged our wheel in, and sure enough, it worked.
Though there is obviously support for the wheel in the game already, there are a few things that are missing, such as the ability to drive in reverse and use some of your special moves, such as the freeze ball or napalm. These moves require certain directional combinations (such as up-down-up for the freeze ball), and the steering wheel seems to be unable to trigger these moves at this point. Whether or not this will be addressed before the game's release is still unknown.
As we discovered while playing Gran Turismo 3 last week, the wheel is a pleasure to play the game with, adding a deeper feeling of realism and control that benefits the overall experience. The wheel doesn't vibrate along with the different types of terrain, but it does provide resistance when taking tight turns, and that resistance increases as you gain speed. This is also in full effect when your car is knocked over onto its side or back--the wheel puts up the maximum level of resistance while you're attempting to turn it back over. You can feel the vehicle hit the ground when jumping from ramps and hitting the ground as well, and the wheel thumps when you take hits from larger weapons such as missiles or environmental attacks like the car crusher.
One of the best things about all this is the varying level of resistance provide by the different vehicles. The smaller, more nimble cars such as Spectre and Brimstone are easy to steer and control, while the larger vehicles like Junkyard Dog and Minion seem to put out a larger amount of resistance while you're maneuvering them around the arenas.
The gas and brake pedals are used like they are in any other game, and the gearshift buttons located behind the wheel are used to fire the machine guns and special weapons and use the power-ups you pick up along the way. The X and Y buttons on the face of the wheel cycle through your inventory of weapons and power-ups, while the A and B buttons are unused at this time. Perhaps these will be mapped with the turbo and reverse abilities at a later date.
Keeping the inability to utilize the special moves in mind, we attempted a single-player game with two players--one using the Dual Shock 2 controller, and the other using the wheel. While it was more difficult to use at first, mostly due to the communication required between the players, it did make for an interesting type of game. One player would steer the wheel and operate the pedals, and the other would man the guns and special weapons (though the wheelman still had the ability to use these as well). The special moves could indeed be used with the Dual Shock 2 in effect, too.
So far, the wheel looks like it will be a welcome bonus to the game. Even with the lack of full support, it's still fun. The wheel provides a different perspective from which to play the game, which can only add to the overall value of the package. We'll keep you posted as more information becomes available.