After Sony's PlayStation keynote last night here at E3, PlayStation.Blog made a sort-of-surprise announcement when it officially detailed the $40 Move Racing Wheel -- something we only caught passing glimpses of during our liveblog. Naturally, we decided to drop by Sony's booth to find out whether the peripheral might potentially pass muster for you serious virtual racers out there. Our verdict after some racing in LittleBigPlanet Karting? Definitely not, but it sure is interesting despite a few quirks. Join us past the break where we'll break it down with text and video.
The wheel itself is simply a batwing-esque shell that you slot a Move into, requiring no battery power of its own. Aside from your basic PlayStation buttons (sans joysticks), two shoulder buttons and a duo triggers, the unit features a duo of paddles that wrap along its circular center which can be be used for shifting and the like. The main outer handles feel very similar to what you'd find on a bike, and they can even be shifted to a horizontal position for motorcycle racing by sliding two tabs that rest near your thumbs -- the right handle can even be used a twist throttle, but it's dependent on title support.
In hand, the Racing Wheel feels massive. We have long-ish fingers, yet we still found our digits fully extended to reach the paddles, as it's very wide from side to side. It wasn't uncomfortable by any means, but we're sure many youngins would have a hard time wrapping their paws around it. Although LBP K doesn't support the motorcycle mode, the position felt much more natural -- albeit just from holding it without playing. Unsurprisingly, the wheel made from a smooth and sturdy feeling plastic that's similar to what you'll find on the PS3 slim, so despite the size we'd place it in the "light" category, as far weight goes. All of the buttons had a nice tactile response to each press that was free of mush, making it a pleasure to fire off weapons at the other karts in our race. The PS Eye tracks the Move like it normally would (namely, fairly accurate), but we still found ourselves throwing the wheel left to right. We'd imagine with some practice our finesse would improved, but we can't say that it doesn't feel any more realistic than the wireless Xbox or Wii wheels. Holding a wireless wheel in the air in front of you is goofy no matter how you slice it.
We need to spend more time with the Racing Wheel to make a final call, but we do think it has potential to be a go-to way for playing motorcycle and looser arcade-style racers on the system. However, we'd be remiss not to mention that it does seems like the kind of peripheral that could easily end up in the dust graveyard with our Rock Band instruments if enough titles don't make interesting use of it. You'll find the Move Racing Wheel on shelves this fall if you're curious to check it out for yourself.