I play lfs with a pad. Though i'm not that great at it as for one thing my ps2 pad is a bit knackerd and i have to push the stick diagonally right else the breaks stay on, and it idles quite high and generally the sticks are not as smooth as they used to be. But overall I can still have fun. But I do feel more confined to the drift/d&d servers as i'm fairly slow at racing which sux a bit and find it hard to stay concentrated looking at the screen for over 2 or 3 laps.
I have to say though that I could probably not drive my real car with a ps2 controller... however i'm no so sure for certain as in a real car you get a lot of feedback from the car through your ass as well as just through the steering wheel and ofc being strapped into a mooving object which has the effect of g force tugging at your body parts helps you feel your car.
So sure using a wheel will make it easier to play the game as well. If you have driven a car then using a wheel in a video game is similair. I originally rode a scooter before i had a car and it took me time to adjust to driving a car. I'd often in my lessons grab the wheel to stop rather than going for the pedals.
I think the only way a sim can ever feel like a real car totally is if you are overflowing with cash and can afford to set your lfs up inside one of those boxes which has the hydraulic arms that shakes you around and stuff. If you have ever gotten into one of those car simulators where you go into the box and then the screen plays and you get shaken around. I went in the colin mcrae one which had him in his impreza and i could not drive and that felt so real even though i was just the passenger and i'll freely admit I was terrified as the expirience was so alien and just like an explosion to the senses.
But overall a sim no matter what it is just a sim. lfs can help you understand car controll, weight distribution, etc but chances are even with a wheel you would not be able to drift a real car. Though it might give you a head start in understanding the fundamentals of what to do.
I think though if lfs had a good damage modeling implemented then I think it would cause players to be more aware of their virtual surroundings
Lfs is good though. It's one of the hardest racing games i've ever played yet the niggling tiney bugs such as the bouncy barriers and randomly being shot into oblivion do annoy me whenever it happens. Not enough to stop playing as the rest of the game is pretty well done.
Still credit where credit is due. For a 3 man team it's pretty impressive epecially as you have all the web based stats pages and such that come with the game and the cool virtual race track that lets you admin/watch your players on your server and being able to upload your own skins, see your best times online and all the other lfsw stuff.
However, for the price of the game I think you do get quite a big bang for your buck. I would welcome new tracks and cars and would not mind paying a little for them but that is unlikey to happen.
I went a little off topic. But oppinions are free and everyone has one.