Almost any game can be described as a clone of another; Dead Space longed to topple Resident Evil 4, Bayonetta aches to emulate Devil May Cry, and Score International Baja 1000 World Championship Offroad Racing (just Baja 1000 from now on)… well, desperately wants to live up to the lofty standards of Baja: Edge of Control. As in, THQ’s vapid racer critics gave a collective “meh” last year.
Allegedly Baja 1000 wants to be THQ’s racer so much that Activision recently ended up on the wrong side of a THQ lawsuit for, we quote, “mimicking box art in an attempt to confuse and deceive consumers”. It sounded laughable. Why on earth would any game wish to emulate such a below-average racing title?
Perhaps because Baja 1000 not only manages to fall into the same pitfalls as THQ’s off-roader (both look ugly and are dull right from the off), but it cocks up the few things that Edge of Control actually got right. Out go the acceptable handling models, the verticality and the scale of the locations, to be replaced with vehicles that handle like a shopping cart pushed beyond the magnetic barrier o’ doom encircling every supermarket, all on a selection of indistinguishable and lifeless canyon-based tracks remarkable only in their monotony.
The basic boost system – forget the clutch; here you can simply boost until the engine overheats, let it cool and repeat – is a minor saving grace should you use it to correct the random oversteer/understeer rather than speed along the straights. But if you’ve invested enough minutes to work that out for yourself you’ll have spent far too long in Baja 1000’s shallow career at a time when masterpieces are being released by the dozen. Many racers have threatened to drive us round the bend. This one succeeded.
Feb 12, 2009