With every passing year, the video game racing genre becomes more impressive. Visual tweaks, handling improvements and action-packed set-ups are to thank for that, though there’s one thing that holds the majority of today’s genre fare back from achieving an extra layer of immersive realism. That is, when it comes to console and PC titles, which are designed around default controllers. Using a joystick and a combination of buttons simply isn’t the same as putting a pedal to the floor while using a physical wheel to steer left and right.
Since consoles have never come with specialized steering wheel controllers or cockpit contraptions, it’s been up to peripheral manufacturers to fill that important void. After all, there are tons of fanatics out there who feel that the only way to play a racing game is by utilizing something that resembles the driver’s side of an actual car. For that reason, we’ve seen quite a few different options come to market over the years, with Thrustmaster’s Ferrari Vibration GT Cockpit 458 Italia Edition being one of the latest to do so.
Looking past its longwinded title, it’s pivotal to note that this isn’t just any pedal and steering wheel combination. The men and women behind this gamer-friendly design actually went to the trouble of turning their controller into the spitting image of one of Ferrari’s most popular cockpits. As such, the company’s branding is front and centre on the steering wheel, which adds class to what is a nice-looking controller.
The steering wheel that so boldly displays the yellow and black Ferrari logo is one of quality. It’s comfortable to hold and easy to use, with cushioned grips complementing its appreciably standard size. The wheel did feel overly sensitive, but that was something that I got used to as time went on. Eventually, it became habit to take careful turns by using the set-up like it was meant to be used. As a result, the immersion factor of Forza Horizon, the game that I used for demo purposes, increased. There’s nothing like using a steering wheel and a two pedal set to drive, after all, even when it comes to video games.
Before we move on, it’s important to note that Thrustmaster specifically designed this version of the Ferrari Vibration GT Cockpit 458 Italia Edition for Microsoft’s Xbox 360. The peripheral plugs into the console through USB, and includes almost all of the system’s necessary buttons, apart from the left and right triggers. It would’ve made sense for the gas and brake pedals to function as those inputs, but that isn’t the case. Thankfully, most folks won’t even notice their omission, unless they’re required for a pass code or something.
All of the buttons work as required, and they’re well-designed. Getting used to looking for them on the front and top of a vehicle’s steering wheel takes time, but that isn’t a drawback by any means. It’s to be expected, after all. What really matters is their quality and implementation, both of which are tough to complain about. The face buttons are split-up into pairs, and are located on the wheel’s left and right sides. Going further, an engine light acts as a directional pad, while the left and right shoulder bumpers are inserted as gear shifters. It’s a very effective design, which is complemented by well-made metallic pedals, vibration feedback and an easy-to-adjust stand.
Those who plan to purchase this immersion-boosting peripheral will need to like colour schemes that combine black and grey. The base is black, as is the majority of the wheel, with a shade of grey resembling steel employed for the wheel’s joining arms. The noted combination creates a sleek and classy look that should appeal to most gamers, especially considering the design was inspired by one of the most popular cars in existence.
Frankly, it’s tough to fault what is a well-made cockpit controller. Every part of it worked as required, and with efficiency, though some may not like how touchy the wheel is. On top of that, set-up was a breeze, and I was able to use the wheel without needing to install or synch anything, which was nice. As such, the Ferrari Vibration GT Cockpit 458 Italia Edition is rather easy to recommend to those who are in the market for such a device.
This write-up is based on a cockpit that was sent to us for review purposes.