Racing games must be among the most popular genres of videogame and they come in all sorts of different shapes and sizes. Arcade games, such as the Project Gotham Racing, Race Driver: GRID and Need for Speed series', focus on fun and accessibility and these are followed by the likes of Forza Mortorsport 2, where this accessibility is matched to a slightly more realistic driving engine.
If you're a fan of these titles then you're more than likely still using a controller, but those who are genuine hardcore racing game fanatics will be sampling the likes of SimBin's GTR series or, more than likely, the daddy of them all: Gran Turismo. And, when you're dealing with such games, nothing beats a steering wheel and pedals.
It's with such people in mind that the VisionRacer VR3 exists. It's the brainchild of Geoff Turton, who has been working in the design and fabrication of motorsport cars for over 25 years, working with, among others, Peugeot's WRC Rally Team on the 306 Maxi. His inspiration for the VisionRacer came in 2004, when he was given a copy of Gran Tursimo and a PlayStation 2 but found it impossible to adapt to using a controller. He went out and bought a steering wheel and clamped it to a desk, but still found the result lacklustre, so he took his experience and know-how and applied it to something much better.
Four years later and the third iteration of the VisionRacer, the VR3, is the first to be mass produced - previous versions having all been manufactured entirely by Turton himself. At its most basic (if that's an appropriate word) the VR3 will set you back £699, which will net you the stainless steel chassis, racing seat and mounting plates for a set of pedals and steering wheel. Granted this is a lot of money before you even get a steering wheel and pedals to play with, not to mention a gaming console and TV, but having taken the VR3 for a spin at the UK launch event this week, it's easy to see where that money is going.
Constructed from stainless steel the chassis is clearly a quality piece of design and engineering. It also comes incredibly well packaged, complete with the chair, its own set of tools and all the bits and bobs you need to put the whole chassis together in a single box. We dare say it probably isn't a simple job, but anyone who's managed an IKEA flat-pack (i.e. most people) should be able to manage it.
It's amazing, too, that despite one's initial presumption the VR3 doesn't have an excessively large footprint. Clearly it's not small and most people would have to clear out a little space to accommodate it in their living rooms, but if you needed to stow it away then any reasonable size walk-in cupboard should be able to hold it.