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Review: Microsoft Sidewinder Force Feedback 2 Joystick

Author: Ken Herbig
Manufacturer: Microsoft

Computer games have come a long way since I have been playing them. Remember when you would download a shareware game that you had to play in DOS. Everything was controlled with the keyboard and/or mouse. As the programs became more sophisticated, so did the gaming devices. I have been using a Sidewinder 3D Pro Joystick for quite a while and thought that I would never need any other type, until now!


I'm sure that many of us have played games that said that they were Force Feedback compatible. Let me tell you, we never knew what we were missing! Playing a game such as MS Midtown Madness or MotoRacer 2 with the Sidewinder Force Feedback 2, is a whole new experience.

You need to load the driver, which comes on a CD, before plugging the joystick into an AC outlet and your USB port. The joystick has a 16-bit 25-MHz on-board processor that delivers 100 different forces to your fingertips. There is a throttle lever on the side and the handle can be turned to operate as a rudder controller. There are 8 programmable buttons and an 8-way hat switch that can also be programmed, to give you a total of 16. The handle has been set up so that all the buttons and the trigger are all convenient to your touch. It also knows when you are ready for action, through a photo-optical beam that is interrupted when you grip the stick. The base of the device is large and because of the motors inside, it has weight to it. This makes it more stable than other joysticks. In the heat of battle or just crashing into things, you won't feel like you have to hold it down. Instead, you will feel every gun or missile fired, every bump or crash, all through the handle of the joystick.

I felt that it was important to try it out on a few games that I had played with my old joystick to be able to get a true comparison. From the first jump in MotoRacer, I knew that I was in for a wild ride. All of a sudden, instead of just seeing and hearing, you are adding in another sense, touch. It is like you are riding the dirt bike in the race. As you land, you feel the impact in the joystick, just as you would on the bike. The normal joystick functions seem to be improved also. The bike reacts quicker and smoother to your movement.

When I took-off in MS Combat Flight Simulator, it was like nothing I have ever experienced in a game. In my first dog fight, the vibration of the guns firing and feeling the impact of the bullets as they penetrated the windshield was as real as I want it to get. For me, this has been a lot of fun. I guess the next step would have to be virtual reality.

Requirements: Win 98 or Win 2000 Professionals; Pentium 166 MHz or higher processor; 16 MB RAM; Hard Disk 25 MB; Quad speed or higher CD ROM drive; Super VGA, 256 color monitor; Microsoft mouse or compatible pointing device; USB port; DirectX 7.0a API or higher
Street Price is $70 - $100

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