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Author Topic: Baja: Edge of Control (360) impressions: It doesn't make me nauseous anymore!!  (Read 1002 times)
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Roscoe
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« on: September 30, 2008, 12:03:10 AM »

Not a criticism of the game, although that will come later. No, for the first time I can remember since the original Half-Life, a game actually made me nauseous. Bouncing around in a real Baja Buggy would probably make me that way as well.

The reviews noted the incredibly steep learning curve and I can't disagree. In career mode my first car is a Baja Buggy, a souped up Beetle, and even with every upgrade bought and installed I just can't seem to do better than mid-field, and that's if I don't screw up during the race (I do often and usually restart). I know part of it is my age (55 yesterday) and my utter lack of coordination, but this is on easy, for cripes sake.

Graphics are so-so, and car control is, well, probably like it would be for a real Baja Buggy being driven by a newbie.

Now, Race Mode isn't so bad. You can race any vehicle on any of the unlocked courses. Also, and most important, you can adjust the AI's advantage so it's not so damn hard to beat. And the more powerful classes seem easier to drive than the simple buggies.

I was drawn to this game because it's closer to pure racing than gimmicky drifting or "kudos". The career mode does have it's weaknesses, but the Race Mode is pretty nice and variety of vehicles excellent.

UPDATE: I would recommend driving in chase view, rather than the more "realistic" in car or over the hood. The cars bounce so much it's necessary to be looking at your vehicle from behind to figure out what the heck is happening.
« Last Edit: October 03, 2008, 02:46:27 AM by Roscoe » Logged

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EngineNo9
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« Reply #1 on: September 30, 2008, 02:59:25 PM »

Cool, thanks for the impressions!  I've been waiting for this game to come out but since I bought MX vs ATV on clearance a month ago and Grid on clearance last week I just can't justify it right now. 

I like the fact that it is more about realistic off-road racing and definitely plan to pick it up some day.  Keep the impressions coming (you might just convince me to pick it up anyway slywink )
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Roscoe
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« Reply #2 on: September 30, 2008, 04:53:56 PM »

I played another hour later last night. In this game more experience playing does really help. One thing that is very appealing is that the AI drives like real people; well at times, badly at times, and never just follows a line. I've seen one AI take out two others, one go off (really off!) the track, and yet they also can drive consistently well during a race.

I have seen comments in the reviews about overly-aggressive AI. While I have found them to be aggressive in taking a line, it is no more aggressive than I drive. It never seems to be malicious, more that the AI is going for the best line in a corner, just like I am.

There have also been comments in the reviews about the so-so graphics. Considering that the camera has to not only deal with significant changes in the horizontal plane but often also in the vertical, the simpler graphics allow the game to maintain a decent frame rate at all times.

Now there are inconsistencies. Smaller rocks, when you hit them, turn out to not have any physical effect at all. Bigger ones do and really it's pretty obvious which is which after a while. Also ruts, even water filled ones, don't seem to have any physical effect either. Again, not that big a deal.

So far I've spent most of my time with a Baja Buggy and even with it totally upgraded I still struggle to make a top three. However, it's not that my car isn't fast enough, it just seems that I keep making dumb mistakes, like getting too much air or not taking the best line through a corner. If you have pretty good racing skills (which I don't) you will probably be doing that much better that much sooner.

The courses that I've raced on in the basic Buggy class, of which there are about twelve I think, are pretty varied. There's one truly massive hillclimb (and descend) course, a point to point race, and about ten circuit tracks. One thing I prefer in racing games is lots of different tracks, and BEC has nine environments with about ten tracks each. Now some in each environment do overlap others, but that's just like Xpand Rally, if you've ever played that.

I haven't done the really long races yet. I do hope someone posts the unlock codes for the game. While that might sound like cheating, I'm not a good enough racer to be able to level up in any reasonable time (and not with all the cool October games coming out). So I'll prefer to fore go the grinding up and instead just get the unlocks.

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Roscoe
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« Reply #3 on: September 30, 2008, 08:15:59 PM »

Have played a couple of hours this afternoon and finally unlocked the Unlimited Buggy class (the next one up). Oh man, this is SO much easier to drive than the Baja Buggy. The first set of races in this League is great as well, culminating in a wild island race where there are two or three tracks, err, lanes I guess you would call them, except that they don't always run parallel to each other, some go over while the other goes around, etc. Really cool.

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EngineNo9
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« Reply #4 on: October 01, 2008, 02:27:16 AM »

Man, I am really feeling the pull to pick this one up.  Damn you, Roscoe!  I have too much on my plate already and more coming down the pipe...
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Roscoe
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« Reply #5 on: October 03, 2008, 03:05:43 AM »

Having a real gas with this. After the initial frustration of the buggy class, I've now moved through the Unlimited VW, the 4x4, the open wheel and now I'm ready for the mini-trucks. On the buggy and 4x4 I seemed to need to upgrade to be in the top three on most of the events, but in unlimited and open wheel I just stayed with the stock vehicle. Progress is much easier once you get to the unlimited class (the next step up after the introductory Baja Bug class).

The format for each class of the career consists of several events. Each event will have anywhere from three to six circuit races, or may be a rally or open class rally. Or a hillclimb. All good stuff. While the tracks do repeats across events and classes, with 95 different tracks there's plenty of variety. Some tracks are constant jumps, bumps and curves. Others are a bit more stretched out with more speed runs, including sand dunes. Some also include massive climbs and descents. And some tracks include all those elements.

I also did change from Career to Race mode to try out the Baja type races. These are NOT just the previous tracks strung together, but instead mimic the long cross-country style of the Baja 500 and 1000 real world races. They tend to have less bumps and jumps and more speed. And it's true, the terrain does not repeat in the course. It's not the most varied of country-side, but there are differences in the course of the course.

Regarding some of the criticisms I saw in the Gamestop and IGN reviews... I haven't come across the issue of vehicles "hooking" together at the slightest contact. And boy have I been making some contacts! You *can* get jammed up with another vehicle, but no more than you would expect with exposed wheels that could interlock. Also I don't find the AI to be aggressive on purpose as was claimed, pushing you out of the way. That does happen, but it's when you get in the way of the AI and he feels he can push pass you. I do the exact same thing to them; if they are on the racing line and going slower than me I nerf them a bit to get the better line.

The AI is actually great. They drive like humans; they make mistakes, they fight among themselves, they cut corners (but never more than you would be able to), they drive really well at times, and sometimes they do just like I do, get wildly optimistic going down a hill or around a bend and go flying off. And then they reset (like I would) and get going again. And I've seen them intelligently use pit stops and helicopter servicing calls.

A big thumbs up on this game.
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EngineNo9
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« Reply #6 on: October 18, 2008, 05:49:24 AM »

Even though it appears only two of us actually care about this game, I figured I'd throw in my 2 cents since I just picked it up tonight (with much blame placed on your thorough reports above, Roscoe slywink ). 

From what I've seen so far I totally agree with what you said.  The early career races with the Baja Bug class can be quite difficult since those cars can get so squirrelly.  I got lucky the first series I ran and actually placed second overall.  After that it went down hill quickly and I haven't been able to place well at all. 

Despite that early difficulty, there isn't another feeling quite like slamming on the e-brake as you come into a banked turn, popping the clutch, stomping on the gas and hearing those tires just rip up the gravel.  So awesome.  biggrin 

Thankfully it looks like the AI has just as much trouble keeping their cars aimed the right way as well; so far I have seen them undershoot turns, overshoot turns, spin out, and pretty much make the same mistakes that I make.  Speaking of cutting corners, I'm glad to see that even on the circuit races you can both go outside the track and cut significant portions of the track and not have to reset your position or get auto-reset. 

I took a break from the career races to do some free roaming with an Unlimited Bug and I can tell already that they will be much easier to control.  I'm also excited to try out the Baja races.  Baja 1000 that takes 3-4 hours to complete?  Wowzers!

The sounds may be fairly minimal, but it's what you would hear when racing and they all seem authentic.  I like hearing my springs squeek on the rough terrain, and I can definitely tell when a car behind me starts knocking on my door by the sound of the engine(s). 

Some of the graphics seem quite good, like the fact that you can see for miles and miles from the top of a hill, and other things like the lack of mud/dirt accumulation on body panels are lacking.  Overall they get the job done and I'm not going to complain.  I'm also impressed that despite all being in a desert area the environmental graphics seem to have a good variety. 

As much as I enjoy games like MX vs ATV, I am extremely happy that these guys have gone the extra mile and put out a serious off-road racing game.  Upgrading, tweaking, damage, XP...lots of depth here. 
« Last Edit: October 18, 2008, 05:51:21 AM by EngineNo9 » Logged

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EngineNo9
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« Reply #7 on: October 18, 2008, 06:37:30 PM »

I've put in a few more hours with this and while I still totally suck at the Baja Bug circuit races I am in love with the Baja race type.  I did one of the "small" Baja 250 races and it took nearly an hour to finish.  It was split up into 3 stages, but each of them was unique and had non repeated terrain as mentioned above.  Very impressive!  It's also a totally different feeling to be going flat-out over long distances, always feeling, dare I say, just on the edge of control.  Wow, so much fun!  Any fans of the old rally game Mobil 1 Championship and its lengthy courses may want to check this out. 

I have to retract my statement about dirt not accumulating on the body panels.  You most certainly do get dusty, it just takes a while.  In the short circuit races I also tend to lose a lot of panels in the bump and grind of close competition.  It isn't as apparent as other off-road games, but it is there.

It's such a shame that this game will most likely get totally ignored this holiday season (and the just released Activision Value cash-in Baja 1000 title likely won't help the cause). 


Oh, and if you're looking for a little inspiration, check out the documentary movie Dust to Glory; it's a good look at the Baja 1000 and the different classes of vechiles in it.  Definitely gave me newfound respect for those guys that compete in the VW Bug class.  They are the true heart of the hardcore.
« Last Edit: October 18, 2008, 06:40:52 PM by EngineNo9 » Logged

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