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
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.
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.