Those of us who can remember back to the early days of gaming hold fond memories of arcades, one of the reasons being the lavish peripherals that could only be found in such an establishment. Being able to take the throttle of a plane on a replication cockpit and feel the turbulence as you took off was something the Nintendo controller just couldn't capture. Today, we have tremendously life-like flight sims available on our home machines, allowing us to once again encountered grand experiences. They are such great recreations that mouse and keyboard simply don't do them justice.
For those who strive for a greater authenticity, Logitech's Flight System G940 is available, and today we take it out for an aerial spin.
Product Name: Flight System G940
Review Sample Provided by: Logitech
Review by: Adam
All buttons, switches, and axes are fully programmable
The G940 comes packaged in a surprisingly compact box, sporting action shots complete with lighting on the front. The backdrop is the unmistakable teal-green Logitech color, accompanyied with their logo in the corner. On the back lists the features in multiple languages, as well as alternative shots of the product.
Inside, everything is packaged neatly and plastic wrapped, cushioned only by carboard inserts, seperated into compartments to keep the pieces from bumping into one another. You'll also find the power cord and instructions, as well as software with drivers.
Thankfully, there isn't much actual assembly to the peripherals. Each individual piece is ready to go straight out of the box, but to use them together does require a bit of wiring. All three devices connect to one another using serial, then merge into one USB cable that is plugged into your PC. The system does also require an additional power source from the wall.
You then have the choice of a mounting and securing the devices to a surface or permanent location, or simply letting the products weight anchor them to a temporary solution. Setting up the games you wish to use the G940 will also take some work, but that'll be discussed further in the 'performance' section.
The force feedback joystick is a peripheral that any fan of gaming can appreciate, useful for a much wider variety of purposes than it's two aerial-based brothers. Whether its an emulated game of Pac-Man or shooting down hostile crafts, the design is a nice mix of nostalgia and next-generation technology. The stick's circumference isn't very thick, which is quite impressive considering the technology it houses. On the right side of the joystick is a sensor that detects when your hand is near, snapping to position and relaying the feeling that you are indeed blessed with the Jedi Force. This feedback is used to simulate forces that one would encounter in true air, such as turbulenece and wind shear.
The dual-throttle is a nice feature that Logitech has provided, allowing for even more precise control of aircrafts, especially those with multiple simulated engines. The two levers seperate close to the middle, allowing them to operate independetly, or can be locked together by the flick of a button cleverly situated near your thumb for eas of access, in the event you need to sync all engines.
Just as unique as the throttle itself, the controller holds eight programmable buttons on the south end, complete with lights and customizable inserts. These a little square pieces of material that contain some preset texts, such as 'start' or 'fire' and plenty of blanks to create your own that can be placed under the plastic shell of the buttons for reference. However, each of the plastic casings cme with a 'P' number printed on them, and conflict with the text underneath.
To make that minor inconvenience even easier to get over, each button has it's own individual light that illuminates in three different colors: green, amber, or red, as well as completely off. This is an easy way to show the status of multiple components off an aircraft, and were modeled after a true cockpit.
Logitech has also included a pedal peripheral, which looks and sounds simple enough but has holds quite a few functions that frankly take some skills to master. Working with the G940 was already one of my first experiences with flight sims, and learning how to use them reminded me of the first time I played Rock Band, particularly the drums, and teaching myself how to multi-task. Of course, flight simulations are much more complex, and I didn't even scratch the surface of what one is capable of with a combination of equipment such as Logitech has assembled.
There are two pedals, one for each foot, that can move horizontally forward and backward, much like pedaling a bike wheel on it's side. The axis can only go so far, in that there is a limit to how far forward or backward each pedal can go. This makes perfect sense considering the pedals simulate a true rudder control system, which not only give you more control over your craft but also help to simulate the piloting of fixed-wings.
Luckily, we were able to review the G940 with a FlighSeat from Playseats which work flawlessly together. Each of the peripherals come are made of a solid material base with holes that can be bolted to any surface such as a desk, or in our case, a predesigned mounting base. In reality, the components are sturdy and heavy enough that simply reasting them on the bases was enough to allow strenuous use without shifting, but for all liability purpose (since you'll be investing quite a bit in this equipment) you should take the few minutes to secure each piece.
As mentioned before, I went into this review as somewhat of a flight sim virgin. It's difficult to judge the friendliness of the peripherals, since it heavily depends on the consumer. For instance, an avid flight sim enthusiast will have probably have an easier time not only setting up the equipment, but also fixing the in-game settings to act properly. It should also be mentioned that the G940 may be overkill for some titles, such as Tom Clancy's H.A.W.X. (it should also be noted that H.A.W.X. only supports the joystick and will not work with the others plugged in) but in true journalism spirit, for the complex simulators this package is gold. If you're new to the flight simulation arena, make sure you follow instructions and perhaps look for some presets for the titles your looking to play on the web. If you're new to PC gaming in general, well, good luck.
Actually using the entire flight system is an experience all of it's own, and pairing that with the high quality simulators available is phenomenol. The force feedback in the joystick truly translates the feel of piloting an aircraft, and as mentioned before, I'm a huge fan of it's physical design. Each of the buttons have a great feel to them, especially the trigger, one of my favorites. There is definitely no absence of programmable switchs and knobs, and both the analog stick as well as the throttle are equipped with a directional pad and a nice metal analog. These are designed in a riveted, cylindrical pyramid shape to ensure comfort and help prevent your thumbs from sliding off during the heat of battle. Again, as a flight sim noob, all the customization available is almost too overwhelming. However, that's the nature of the game the G940 is designed for, and Logitech has done a great job providing the user with everything necessary to support and execute it all well.
The price-pont may seem a little high at first, one again especially to those who strat further away from the enthusiast field of flight simulators. Compared to other leading flight control systems, such as the Hotas Cougar from Thrustmaster, the price is fairly accurate. I can't speak personally to the quality of the Hotas Cougar, not having the the chance to review it, but I can attest to that of the G940, and the value gained from the foot pedal peripheral that isn't included in the near $250 MSRP of competing products.
I learned a lot from reviewing the G940, including a new respect for enthusiast flight sim players. More relevant to the product itself, however, is that the G940 is an immersive flight package made from quality material. A comfortable design is present in many of this system's features, from it's physical features to the buttons themselves; and there are plenty of buttons for all your customizing desires. The G940 also includes an often ignored pedal peripheral that extends the capabilities of this system, and is done with a price point that is relatively right on target.