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Baja - hands-on

The Baja 1000 hosts some of the most hardcore off-road racing imaginable. In its marquee race, million-dollar cars battle for over 1000 miles, and each year there are reports of booby traps and spectator-created jumps and obstacles - built for their amusement. There are no closed streets - no, these madmen race through civilian traffic.

Just as Baja racing is the ultimate in off-road racing, the MX vs. ATV team is building what they'd like to be the "ultimate off-road game."

The first thing we'd like to stress - Baja is beautiful. The sky is photorealistic, which sometimes looks out of place next to a less-beautifully rendered landscape. It doesn't. The scenery is stunning, and details like birds flying overhead and giant cruise ships parked off-shore make the environments believable and engrossing. Sure, there are a lot of graphically beautiful racers out right now (some perhaps a bit nicer-looking than Baja), but none are as massive and seamless.

That mountain in the distance isn't just a pre-rendered backdrop for you to look at. You can drive up it. The team is calling it "drive-to-horizon," and they really mean it. Where as previous games, like MX vs. ATV, contained worlds that represented about 3/4 of a square mile, Baja's ten environments account for over 1000 square miles of terrain.

100 tracks are spread throughout the environments, and there are over 40 cars to explore them with. Game modes include circuit races (lap based), rally races, open class races, hill climb, and free ride.

Rally races are complete with civilian traffic and a multitude of paths through the massive environments. Of course, if you deviate too far, you'll be put back on the track, but just the fact that you can drive over a hill and see a freeway two miles away is great.

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