Our pal’s over at Thrustmaster have once again sent us a review sample, the Thrustmaster HOTAS WARTHOG flight stick. While at CES 2012 I asked about this flight stick and what made it so special. After giving it a quick look over I knew I was in for something crazy. After reviewing the T500RS a couple of months ago I came to realize that Thrustmaster doesn’t make the cheapest products but they do make some of the best quality products. Read on for my impressions of the Thrustmaster HOTAS WARTHOG flight stick
Product Name: Thrustmaster Hotas Warthog
Review Sample Provided By: Thrustmaster
Review By: Skyler
Pictures and Screenshots By: Skyler
As with most Thrustmaster products the packaging is top notch. Rest assured that while in transit your item will arrive without any bumps or bruises. Large Styrofoam surrounds the entire package along with individual containers for the stick and the throttle. On the outside of the box you can see the over theme of the set. It’s meant to be “Bad Ass” this isn’t for Microsoft Flight, although you can use it for that, more on that later on, this is for a professional gamer that loves flight simulators.
On the right hand side it gives you the button layout of the stick and quick description of how to mount the stick to the base. It also tells you about the Thrustmaster T.A.R.G.E.T which stands for Thrustmaster Advanced pRograming Graphical EdiTor. Along with the T.A.R.G.E.T system there is the H.E.A.R.T Technology HallEffect AccuRate Technology.
The left hand side introduces you to the Throttle Controls which also incorporate the H.E.A.R.T tech. There is a nice layout of the buttons on the Throttle and the Control Panel; there are a bunch of them.
The back of the package talks about the tech that is inside the Joystick, Throttle and Control panel.
One of the nice additions of the box is that it has a handle so taking your setup is as easy is throwing back in the box and hauling it off to your next LAN party.
As with most products it does require installing drivers. I am not one to use the included disc’s so I headed on over to the Thrustmaster website and grabbed the latest drivers they had available.
Quick note, downloading will take a couple of minutes which is weird because the files aren’t that big. The biggest file is the 38mb and it was a five minute download, really? Five minutes. I hope that they change this in the future. Sure, it’s not that long but it’s 2012, not 2005. We have high speed internet, let us use it.
For this set you’re going to need to download the driver and the software. I also recommend downloading the user manual along with the TARGET SCRIPT Editor. This will help you out in the long run. Why use the one in the box that is sitting in your closet when you can save it on your PC and its right at your fingertips if you get lost?
Drilling into the drivers themselves can be a bit daunting at first. It’s not the best layout for accessing items quickly but after a few clicks I had set what I wanted to and moved on. The LED’s that are on the throttle are adjustable in the driver making late night flights less assuming to other occupants of your make shift aircraft.
One of the first points that you will notice is that Thrustmaster spared no expense in designing this. It is after all a replica of what real pilots would use in a Warthog. The feel of the stick and throttle are top notch. Each individual button on the stick and the throttle is very high quality. It almost feels like you could throw it across the room, which I don’t recommend, and still be in one piece, it’s built that good. The toggle switches on the throttle give that reassuring “Click” when you throw them from one position to the other. It really comes down to the small things that make a Thrustmaster product stand out and I can say I really liked how you can lock each throttle control together with a lever and feel like you can do it a thousand times without it breaking off.
I tested a variety of games with this setup including A-10C Warthog, Microsoft Flight and Dogfighter which can all be found on your favorite digital download service store.
I will go by rank of easiest to setup. For all games test I used my main testing machine which is a i7 920 @ 4Ghz, 12gb RAM, 2 GTX580’s in SLI on a 2560x1600 monitor.
Dogfighter wins hands down. You can use either the mouse and keyboard, Xbox Controller and the Hotas Warthog setup. It was as easy as plugging them in, launching the game and hitting play, simple. While playing you will notice that many buttons on the joystick and the throttle do the same exact thing. Again, this is a very cheap, fun game. If you are buying this to play Dogfighter you might have the wrong idea.
MS Flight came in second. The setup was straightforward along with the ease of control during flight. The one item that wacked me out was the Alerons. This is controlled with one half of the throttle by default. Easy enough to bind to a different button so no biggie there. Overall the game played even better, as it should, with a flight stick setup. The controls were easy to handle along with the throttle controls. I always find it amusing to take off, gain some altitude, drop the landing gear, pitch the nose down and come screaming in for a water landing. With this setup it really does take away a bunch of the guesswork of flying. It’s almost like driving a stick shift car. You can just feel the aircraft better than with a mouse/keyboard or a controller.
A-10C Warthog was last. Now, I’m not reviewing the game but this one gave me the most fuss along the way. The plane always pulled to right no matter what I did. This didn’t happen in any of the other games so I’ll chalk that up to the game and not the stick. The amount of customization in the menus is mind boggling. It’s almost too much, but again, it’s a flight simulation. You are supposed to be able to tweak and tune every little setting to your H.E.A.R.T’s content. The stick and throttle’s felt great in game. Every time I would shut the engines off and try and land the aircraft I would be coming in way too hot, pick the nose up and blow the tail wing off. This is the game that this stick is made for, for sure. I just had so, many problems with getting it to work and handle the way that I wanted it to that I was frustrated beyond belief. If you have been playing Warthog for a while now and understand it better than I do, by all means, pick this up. It’s a great setup but I guess I’m just not that great of a gamer.
Overall and Final Verdict
All I can say is this is one hell of a setup. The quality is far beyond what I expected and that is saying something coming from Thrustmaster. I did have a bunch of problem in the game that it was made for which was aggravating to say the least. I tried so many different combinations but just couldn’t get it to work how I wanted, which is a shame. Again, in the other games that I test it worked great and felt great too.
Like I said before, if you are a hard core flight simulation nerd that is looking for an upgrade to a better quality stick setup this is the one. From the great throttle controls with adjustable LED’s to the joystick with a massive amount of buttons, if you are looking for the top of the line stick, look no further.