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Baja: Edge Of Control

Every year, hundreds of off-road racing fans and racers alike are drawn to the Baja 1000, a prestigious desert-racing event held in Mexico, that spans well over 1000 km.

2XL Games aims to deliver that same desert-racing experience in their latest title to hit our Xbox360 sets – Baja: Edge Of Control, albeit with a healthy dose of spicy Mexican music that conjures up imagery of stout men wearing sombreros and clutching guitars.

At a first glance, Baja doesn’t strike you as a racing game that’s any different from the thousands of mediocre racing titles that the capitalist game publishing bigwigs churn out every year without a thought. These poor souls will lie unloved and forgotten in some forlorn back shelf until clearance day when they will only see the light of day from sitting in the depths of the Bargain Bin. Fortunately, Baja: Edge Of Control is nothing short of one solidly built racing title.

The Scenic Route

Visual-philes rejoice. One of Baja’s strongest charms is it’s beautifully rendered racing circuits. From vast canyons to expansive salt flats and arid deserts, every piece of the sun-scorched Mexican landscape has been lovingly recreated. Just like in a desert race, tracks consist of little more than a craggy yellow dirt road etched with tire marks or a muddy path with depressed water troughs in the shape of tire tracks.

Baja: Edge Of Control
Baja: Edge Of Control

As you blitz through the circuit under a lavender sky populated by a few sparse clouds, the sun illuminates the sands with its golden touch. It almost looks picture postcard perfect when you fly through the air after you speed off a ridge, surrounded by a spectacular view of mountain ranges silhouetted in the afternoon sun and a realistic landscape punctuated with cacti, desert plants and trees.

However, the scenic landscapes are just that, scenic. Cacti and saplings will not split or break off even after ramming your 1.7-ton desert race buggy into them at more than 80km/h. This can pose a serious hazard to your championship shot when you get stuck between closely growing trees. 2XL Games has foreseen this problem and allowed a ‘reset’ option at any time during the race, which will place your car back on the road by pressing the right and left shoulder of your Xbox360 controller, simultaneously. Not exactly a check in the realism department but a good save, nonetheless.

Nuts, Bolts And Suspensions

The gameplay is been divided into two parts, the Baja Career mode and Race Modes. Baja Career mode is the classic story-style mode where you start out as a no-name racer with his first ride, and as you progress and win races, you earn credits to buy new upgrades and vehicles as well as unlock other circuits that you can compete in to progress up to the big leagues. When you catch the attention of the big boys, advertisers will want to place ads on your vehicle which you can then earn credits for. But the catch is this, you will get paid only as long as the advertisement remains on the vehicle, if your ride sustains damage at that and you lose the logo, you lose the dough.

Race Mode features a host of racing options like Open Class, Baja, and Hill Climb. Baja is a recreation of the famed Baja 1000 off-road race, which takes place in Mexico.

The circuit is long and arduous, and your racer is prone to damage as you slam into other competitors’ cars or crunch into rocks or hard trees. Negotiating bends and turns in the tracks is a challenge as you battle the annoyingly accurate poor handling of the vehicles when they venture out of the race track, causing you to spin out of control. When the damage accumulates, it starts to affect your ride’s performance. And you can stop the vehicle to change tires or call in a support helicopter to stop somewhere outside the track for you to divert and get a full repair of the vehicle.

In Open Class, you get to pick from a variety of racers including 4×4 drives, trophy trucks and buggies. The different vehicles will be arranged in order of their speeds. Trucks and the heavier vehicles will begin at the front of the line while fast cars like trophy trucks will start from the back.

Hill Climb, like its name suggests, is a race that revolves around a steep hill, racers have to be among the first to race up and then speed down the hill toward the finish line in 2 laps.

Baja: Edge Of Control
Baja: Edge Of Control

Players can also race in multiplayer modes, up to 4 players in a split screen style and 10 players online via the Xbox Live.

Upgrades – now here’s where Baja: Edge of Control brings out all the bells and whistles. 2XL Games has laboured to make practically every part of your vehicle customisable, with approximately 200 performance parts in total. Vehicular upgrades can be purchased from your Garage in the Baja Career mode. These boosts to the overall performance of your car are classified into 7 main categories, Engine, Power Train, Tires, Brakes, Suspension, Weight and Aero and Cooling and Plumbing.

For all its customisable options and scenic views, Baja: Edge Of Control is just what it is, a good old racing title with hardly anything unconventional other than the odd unique feature. No nitro, spectacular drifts or takedowns here, folks.

But at what it does, it delivers a solid job.

Learning Curve: 6.0/10.0
Immersion: 8.0/10.0
Replay: 7.0/10.0
Graphic: 8.0/10.0
Audio: 7.0/10.0
Balance: 7.0/10.0



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