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Gaming: Baja Edge of Control HD has a three hour rally

Off-road racing remake is quirky in the extreme

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Baja Edge of Control HD’s title is a bit of a misnomer. You see, the game was already in HD when it was released back in 2008 on Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3. What it should be called is Baja Edge of Control A Little Bit More HD.

It’s a curious candidate for a re-release. Baja: Edge of Control didn’t exactly set the world alight on its original release nine years ago, recreating the uniquely unhinged desert enduro rallies that are crowned by the Baja 1000. Now, at a budget price of £20 and with lightly buffed visuals, it’s back on Xbox One, PS4 and PC for anyone who missed it the first time round. Statistically, that’s everyone reading this article.

Let’s be clear: Baja’s never going to elbow Dirt 4 off your shelf, nor does this graphical refresh stand up against current games, but it does have some entertaining quirks. For a start, it takes the endurance element of the sport to heart. Career races are a reasonable length but tackle the ‘full’ SCORE Baja 1000 and the game will politely advise you that it’ll take around three hours to complete the series of nine 20-ish minute stages. Yes, this game features a point-to-point rally that will swallow up an entire afternoon and you’ll never see the same dust-blasted desert shrub twice. Just a lot of very similar ones.

Other novel features include the helicopter repair system, which allows you to call in a chopper to land further up the road and administer mechanical aid when you’ve had a high-speed disagreement with a cactus. You also can earn sponsorship throughout your career and sticker up your vehicle, but you won’t get paid if you scrub off the relevant body panel against another competitor or part of the scenery. It’s all delightfully weird novelty that you’re unlikely to ever find in another racing game.

The remaining lunacy is all stuff that’s an accurate representation of the real life Baja and similar events like King of the Hammers. You’ll be dodging civilian traffic during road sections, tackling dizzyingly vertiginous hillclimbs and attempting to keep lolloping, blancmange-suspended trophy trucks steady over bumpy, rutted dirt tracks.

It’s those vast Baja stages that remain the biggest challenge, though. You’ll find yourself slipping into a trance-like state, with the throttle absolutely pinned for miles at a time and your left thumb making tiny, frantic steering adjustments as you sight-read the surface below. Just a momentary lapse in concentration is enough to turn your pristine Baja Buggy into the world’s most expensive Catherine Wheel.

Baja Edge of Control HD might be telling a tiny fib when it comes to the ‘HD’ addition to its title, but the Edge of Control bit is absolutely bang on…

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