When during the conference E3 2017 announced that the next game of the legendary series of automotive simulators Gran Turismo is out at the end of this year, I got excited about it. The reason for the excitement was the fact that I did not have a single gamepad compatible with the Sony PlayStation 4 console. My old Logitech G25 with the PS4 refused to be friendly, which made me go to the store in search of an inexpensive, but testing-suitable alternative. Almost immediately I was lucky – I came across the budget wheel of the Japanese company Hori called Racing Wheel Apex.

The problem of choosing a decent game steering wheel for owners of the PlayStation 4 console has recently become very relevant. Regularly there are wonderful games like DiRT Rally , Driveclub, Project CARS , F1 2016, DiRT 4, Assetto Corsa and others, and there are practically no decent rudders on the market. The company Logitech acted very cleverly, pretending that it is simply impossible to implement popular support for the G25 and G27 rudders in the PlayStation 4. Allegedly in the Sony console there is no necessary processor, and all this will not be implemented programmatically, since the team of engineers who developed these devices has long been disbanded. So let’s buy our new Logitech G29 steering wheel for 25,000 rubles, and you can throw out the old ones. Ugly all this in relation to consumers. Other rudders presented on the market are either ridiculously primitive or exorbitantly expensive. Prices for some models reach a mark of 45-50 thousand rubles.

From the very beginning, I was facing an almost unattainable goal: to find a budget wheel is no more than 10,000 rubles. It’s just that my hand-toad did not let me do it. The new model of the company Hori came up to this requirement perfectly, because the average retail cost of the Racing Wheel Apex today is 7,990, and some stores and the cheaper. Of course, low cost automatically deprives us of some nice bonuses, for example, expensive materials, remote gearbox, power feedback to the player and so on. The budget of the device is felt immediately, nevertheless, it is ideal for novice players, as well as fans of auto-simulators who are not ready to put a mountain of money for a new wheel. Still, we have almost a threefold difference in price, if we compare this steering wheel with more expensive models.

The box is made in the corporate style of Hori, in which the blue color predominates. In the eyes immediately rushing right lower corner, where there is a very important logo family of consoles PlayStation. It means that the steering wheel was manufactured with the approval of Sony under an official license, and also passed all the necessary tests for compatibility with the PlayStation 3 and PlayStation 4 consoles. Another important logo lurked in the upper left corner just below the name of the manufacturer. When creating the wheel Racing Wheel Apex was used technology TouchSense the famous company Immersion. And this, for a second, those same guys who invented vibration output. In the world sold more than 3 billion devices that use their development. The steering wheel has built-in motors with asymmetric metal weights,

On the back of the box (unfortunately, I received the kit in a slightly crumpled package), we see a standard set of information about the equipment, manufacturer’s warranty and age restrictions. If you read carefully the text printed here, you can find out that the steering wheel is compatible with a PC running operating systems from Windows Vista and higher. It supports the XInput API, but does not support another Microsoft API – DirectInput. Well, the most alarming warning is: “The product does not necessarily function the way you want it, with all the PS4 games.” How to understand this phrase? I’ll tell you just below.

Externally, the steering wheel looks impressive. Pleasant to the touch, matte plastic. Fortunately, it’s not getting dirty from any touch of Soft Touch, which I already got pretty much. Rubberized on both sides of the steering wheel with a diameter of 280 millimeters almost perfectly fits in the palm of your hand. Textured rubber eliminates the slipping of the steering wheel even from sweating hands, which is definitely useful to you in the heat of intense racing races against virtual rivals or other players online.

The base of the steering wheel is quite massive, but at the same time light compared to the same Logitech G25. However, outwardly the difference between the rudders is practically not noticeable. Well, yes, there is no leather braid here. But why is it even needed in video games?

In the center of the steering wheel are the main controls for the PlayStation console. As it is sad, but the round central part of the steering wheel is not pressed. And how nice it would be to install a button on the horn and to signal the other participants with an important air. The rest of the elements are quite standard: the D-Pad cross, four proprietary buttons “cross”, “circle”, “square” and “triangle”, bumpers R1 and L1, additional buttons R3 and L3, PS button for calling up the system menu and powering the controller, well, extremely useful buttons Share and Options. There is no touchpad DualShock 4, but, as far as I remember, it is practically not used in autosimulators. But there is one extremely important button ASSIGN, which is needed in the process of fine-tuning the steering wheel. For sure you did not count in this list of triggers R2 and L2. We’ll talk about them right now.

These triggers are made directly on the steering wheel itself and by default in most games they are assigned the functions of gas and brake. The buttons are located in small depressions in the rubberized part of the steering wheel. And, I tell you, this is just a disgusting design and engineering solution. I’m used to keeping the steering wheel according to the standard rule for 10 and 14 hours, and in this position you repeatedly and repeatedly click on the above buttons. Illustrations on the official website of the manufacturer show us that Japanese users hold the steering wheel a little differently – at 9 and 15 hours. So that the thumbs lie on the handlebar just below the buttons and do not touch them. It took me several days to re-educate my inner driver and put my hands down a bit. However, for someone this will not be a serious problem. Besides,

It looks very nice ring of bright red color in the center of the steering wheel. It is present not only for beauty, but also serves as a guide to how much you turned the steering wheel at the moment. Racing Wheel Apex has a maximum stroke of 270 degrees, which, of course, is noticeably less than 900 degrees, which is offered to us by more expensive models. Nevertheless, this is quite enough to comfortably play most of the autosimulators. If you want to get the maximum sensitivity from the steering wheel, you can quickly switch to the 180-degree Quick Handling Mode, and then the steering wheel will react to the slightest of your movements. This is very useful in fast arcade games (for example, in Wipeout Omega Collection), where the high reaction rate is much more important than the skill and mathematical accuracy of professional autosimulators.

At the top of the button block, there are two very important switches. The first one changes the steering modes between PS4-N (gamepad mode), PS4-S (rudder mode) and PS3 (compatibility mode with PS3 console). The second switches the modes of the frog located on the front surface of the rudder, between the DP (D-Pad), LS (left analog stick) and RS (right analog stick). This is necessary in order to, if necessary, you can use both analog sticks of the DualShock 4 controller.

Included with the Racing Wheel Apex is not supplied with the traditional gearshift lever, so you have to be content with the undercut switch blades or, as they are called, “shifter”. They are made of plastic and quite flaccid at first glance. However, I used the steering wheel for several weeks, and until it fell off nothing. And this is a very good sign.

At the rear of the handlebars we see an outgoing USB cable that connects the device to game consoles and a PC, as well as an input to connect the pedal unit.

The bottom surface of the base is covered with rubber inserts in an amount of six pieces. Here you can see five holes, into which special suction cups are inserted, which come complete with the steering wheel. Honestly, it’s hard for me to imagine a person who will trust the fastening of the rudder to a flat surface somehow there suckers. During especially intense races I so strongly turn out a wheel that even a table I move from a place. No suckers will save this situation.

That’s why I advise anyone who decides to purchase a game steering wheel, immediately remove the suction cups back into the box. For attachment to the table along with Racing Wheel Apex comes a kind of clamp, consisting of a support frame and a bolt with a comfortable handle. On the frame are fixed two movable rubberized legs, which exclude slippage of the construction from the table or rack for the handlebars (which can be purchased on the Internet or made independently). I was impressed by the fact that the clamp allows you to fasten the steering wheel even to very thick countertops. At me such case and even fastening of the legendary Logitech G25 was before my furniture helplessly. And the company Hori simply took and increased the maximum available gap, pleasantly pleased its users.

The pedal unit is made of plastic, but both pedals are strong enough, so do not be afraid to accidentally break them off with your feet. The progress of the gas pedal is noticeably greater than that of the brake pedal. Their sensitivity can be adjusted by special combinations of keys. The pedals are quite tight, and you need to get used to them, but here everything is done to simulate the controls of this car. It would be extremely strange, react the pedals to any whiff of the breeze.

The bottom of the pedal block conceals in itself four rubber feet, as well as a folded pedestal under the heels. It decomposes and increases the base area of ​​the block by almost two times. Put the heels on the stand and thereby automatically press the pedal block to the floor, excluding its slipping. Everything is very simple and convenient.

The pedal unit is connected to the steering wheel with a RJ9 network interface cable.

Separately worth mentioning the process of adjusting the steering wheel. And it is tuned so thin that I want to take off my hat before the Japanese. In addition to the sensitivity of the steering and pedal presses already mentioned, you are able to adjust the dead zones (the angles of rotation within which the steering wheel does not respond to your movements), assign any commands to any buttons and levers, or at any time simply drop all your settings and return to the factory, starting from scratch. The truth and scold the Japanese, too, is for what. The process of adjustment is so complicated from a technical point of view, that even at the stage of reading the instructions, I got sick a couple of times. Complex combinations of buttons with the retention of some for a few seconds and parallel tapping on others reminded me of the process of jailbreaking the iPhone. And then you also orienting on the color indicators, burning on the steering wheel. All this can hardly be called a “friendly approach”. Tehnari by education a little grumbling and in all sort out, but the humanities will have hard times.

I tried my new steering wheel consistently in several games. Started with those that are declared in the list of supported on the manufacturer’s website. The first of them tried his last year’s favorite DiRT Rally , where the steering wheel immediately determined in the PS4-S mode and automatically tuned. Initially, I was playing on the usual DualShock 4, so I had something to compare with. Sensations, of course, like heaven and earth. But it was quite expected. The car listened to me fine on the narrow mountain, forest and snowy roads, the road surface was given in the hands of a characteristic small-textural vibration, and the pedals allowed smooth entry even into the steepest turns. For this game, I did not even change the default settings, simply because they were perfectly balanced initially.

My second experiment was Driveclub VR. I really missed the steering in this game. After all, inside the virtual reality, you see that you hold in your hands a car steering wheel, but in reality you feel in your hands a gamepad of another form. This greatly destroys the effect of presence. Well, Racing Wheel Apex for the first time allowed me to immerse myself in Driveclub VR 100%. The game automatically recognized the steering wheel and loaded all the necessary settings. I again did not have to change anything or reconfigure. Wow, I’ll tell you! Sensations simply inexpressible! Probably, this is the best application of this steering wheel among all the games I tested. Although, of course, my endless love of virtual reality technology is affecting me here. Well, why not? Really cool thing.

Declared in the list of supported games Project CARSfor some reason, the steering wheel in the PS4-S mode was flatly refused. I had to activate the PS4-N mode and manually adjust the steering wheel in options, experimenting with dozens of sliders before I was satisfied with the results. Reduce the “dead zones” to zero in this game, I would not advise you. This leads to the fact that the steering wheel when you return to the zero position will slightly drag the car along the road. Hori Racing Wheel Apex unlike expensive rudders can not boast of the presence of built-in “power kickback” when, when turning the wheels, you feel their real resistance to your hands. Instead, a spring is built into it, constantly trying to align the steering wheel in the center. And at the time of such a return the steering wheel turns slightly at the zero mark. If the dead zones are set incorrectly, you can easily bounce in the opposite direction,

In the fresh game DiRT 4The steering wheel is also not yet supported in PS4-S mode, but it was much easier to configure it than in Project CARS. I just zeroed out the dead zones and got a good management model at the output. I would very much like to hope that in the future more and more games will receive the support of this steering wheel with the release of the corresponding patches. And although we can customize it manually for almost any game, I would like to see it all right “out of the box”, bypassing dances with a tambourine. In addition to the games I mentioned above, the wheel also needs to support the following autosimulators: ASSETTO CORSA, F1 2015, Motorcycle Club, Need for Speed, Need for Speed: Rivals, Sebastian Loeb Rally Evo, Trackmania Turbo and WRC5. In addition, you can use the steering wheel in the following games: Farming Simulator 15, MotoGP 14, MotoGP 15, Race the Sun, RIDE, Rocket League, Tour de France 2015,

Another drawback of the steering wheel was his high demand for power. A couple of times he turned off right during the game, and I could not understand what was wrong with him. At some point, the thought crept into my head that I had a defective device. But, as it turned out, you just had to pull the cable out of the second USB port on the PlayStation 4 console and the shutdown stopped. Apparently, the steering wheel does not like it, if something else is fed from the built-in USB hub in parallel with it. But this, of course, is just my guess. With a multimeter, I did not measure anything and tell you all this solely on the basis of my own intuition and everyday experience.

Equipment:

  • Steering wheel Hori Racing Wheel Apex
  • Connectable pedal unit
  • Suction cups (5 pcs.)
  • Frame for fastening
  • Bolt for fastening
  • User’s manual

Characteristics:

  • Material: plastic, rubber
  • Color: black, gray, red
  • Angle of rotation: 270 degrees
  • Vibration presence: yes
  • Presence of power recoil: no
  • Pedal unit: 2 pedals
  • Programmable buttons: yes
  • Setting dead zones: yes
  • Sensitivity setting: yes
  • Compatibility: PS3, PS4, PC
  • Cable length: 3 meters
  • Cable sheath: no

Pros:

  • Pleasant plastic and rubber braid, eliminating the slipping of hands.
  • Ability to switch between rotation modes at 270 and 180 degrees.
  • Fine sensitivity adjustment and reassignment of all buttons.
  • Fastening perfectly fits even to non-standard table tops and racks.
  • The presence in the steering wheel vibration technology TouchSense from Immersion.
  • The most optimal price-quality steering wheel for the PlayStation 4.

Minuses:

  • In the PS4-S mode, the steering wheel is not supported by all games.
  • The complexity of the setting can cause panic.
  • The disgusting arrangement of the buttons R2 and L2.
  • The steering wheel is very demanding.
  • There is no reverse power feedback.

The controller Hori Racing Wheel Apex has a number of advantages and disadvantages, but it can be safely advised to those players whose budget for the purchase of the helm for the PS4 (as in my case) is limited to a small amount. Only for 7,990 rubles at your disposal will be a budget, but conscience made under the official license of Sony device, well shown itself in different car simulators. This steering wheel is definitely more interesting than its closest rival in the face of Thrustmaster T80, in which even the vibration is not provided, but it costs 2000 rubles more. I think that now I’m fully ready for the release of the long-awaited Gran Turismo Sport game, scheduled for the fourth quarter of 2017. And I also recommend you to thoroughly prepare for this significant event.

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