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1 Reviews

Baja

And no, it's not pronounced as 'badger'

Baja is apparently a state in Mexico that holds an annual race that can take up to thirty hours to finish. It's futility on an epic scale, and fortunately 2XL's new off-road racer doesn't ask quite that much of you - but does come a bit too close.

The game is presented as a complete simulation of the real off-road desert-racing Baja experience, so the lack of any motorbikes or ATVs to complement the hundreds of buggies and trucks on show seems like something of an oversight. And while you're free to tinker with the innards of what vehicles you do have to gain an edge on the track, any in-depth customisation is always paired with ludicrous racing physics. Landings go one further and sometimes feel like a complete lottery- sometimes you'll simply bob into the sand and be off, but other times you'll land at an angle and end up facing backwards as your competitors soar past.

Zoom

It's clearly an attempt at compromise, but enthusiasts won't enjoy the arcade style of driving and casual players are unlikely to be interested in all the logos and brands. The AI drivers, like the improbably named 'Dick McCool,' do react to your methods and retaliate if you mess up their paint-jobs, though any veil of intelligence is torn away the second you fall behind the pack and see every other driver on your GPS minimap slow down to help you catch up.

There are plenty of different challenges though, including hill climbs, rallies and circuits, and the total race area covers around a hundred square miles. An impressive statistic, but there isn't really much you can do with desert so it's usually just you and the weirdly abundant tumbleweeds that clog up some tracks. There are a few populated roads and the odd backwater town, but they never feel like real places, just more obstacles for you to bounce off.

Desert racing would make a fun element in a broader driving game but an entire £40 title devoted to lolloping over sand dunes is probably overkill. Don't be seduced by the trendy soundtrack or gnarly subtitle; there are already too many fantastic racing games fighting for space on the pre-owned racks.

The verdict

Don't fall asleep at the wheel

  • Easy, enjoyable driving controls
  • Tons of stuff
  • Levels are massive but bland
  • Repetitive, gets dull quickly
  • Little variation in races
4
Format
Xbox 360
Developer
2XL Games
Publisher
THQ
Genre
Racing / Driving

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