A quick cyber jump over to the Saitek website reveals that this company is serious about gaming peripherals. In fact, in its joystick section alone there are currently 14 models available, all the way from budget models like the ST90 to more sophisticated ones such as the X52 Flight Control System.
Now if you’re wondering why this joystick looks familiar, then cast your minds back to our review of the Cyborg evo. Well the evo Force is pretty much the same blue LED lit model, but with one main difference (apart from the golden brushed metal plates), and that’s the addition of force-feedback. Yup folks, this stick vibrates, shakes and rumbles to bring you a sense of reality when playing force-feedback compatible games.
But before I get onto its effectiveness, let’s take a look at what’s on offer from “the world’s only fully adjustable force-feedback joystick”, as Saitek likes to call it. As I’ve mentioned already the overall design is the same as the Cyborg evo. Like its standard stable mate, the Cyborg evo Force can be tweaked to suit both right-handed and left-handed users by way of the detachable hand/palm rest. After unscrewing the shiny metal knob that secures it to the stick, the whole arrangement can be split, reversed, and then re-screwed into one of the three holes that run up the length of stick. So whether you’ve got dinky little mitts or huge dinner plate sized paws, there should be a level that’ll suit you.
The adjustability doesn’t stop there either. Another two of those shiny knobs can be found on the head. These are both geared and allow you to rock the head from side to side and raise or lower the three thumb buttons situated below the eight-way point-of-view hat switch. With a little tweaking I was soon able to find a comfortable fit.
Of course there are plenty of buttons dotted around the evo Force. There are five fire buttons situated around the hat switch and a further six positioned on the flanks of the base that include two shift buttons for doubling the function of each button. Completing the control array is the obligatory rapid-fire trigger that sits neatly under your forefinger, and a centrally mounted lever-type throttle.
All of the buttons can be programmed to your preferences using the SST (Saitek Smart Technology) software provided on the driver CD. The option to install this arises during driver installation which was a relatively smooth process. After plugging in the USB lead and the mains power adapter, it’s a simple case of following the prompts for button and force-feedback testing. There’s also an opportunity to adjust the gain levels of the various forces in order to make them weaker or stronger. The only issue I had with the SST installation was its insistence upon installing drivers for a keyboard and mouse emulator. There’s no choice in the matter - you get those whether you want them or not.
However, what I do like is the profile editor. This is used to customise (using macros or a combination of button presses) the functions of each button, which can then be saved as a profile – ideal if you want to create and save external button configurations for your favorite PC games. You can also assign keyboard and mouse commands so that you can use the evo Force to play games that do not offer support for joysticks. If you can’t be bothered to do that you can always download ready-made profiles from Saitek’s website, and if you’re really keen you can upload your own there too.