I honestly had no idea what Baja: Edge of Control HD was when the code passed my desk. I could tell that it was a racing game of sorts and that it must be a re-release, aside from that, I’d never heard of it before.
Turns out Baja: Edge of Control originally released almost a decade ago on the PS3 and Xbox 360. I had both of those consoles and yet I never knew this simple racing game existed. Come to think of it, I doubt many who are reading this review have many memories of it. It was just that kind of game. A game that came out, sat on store shelves and didn’t cause a fuss. Not like DriveClub… Naughty DriveClub.
So, what is Baja: Edge of Control HD? For one, it’s a cheap and easy re-release for THQ Nordic. The publisher is rummaging through its newly acquired back catalogue of games and is pushing as many out as it can. Hey, I get it, fair enough, but does an obscure game deserve to be given a second chance at life? In the case of Baja: Edge of Control HD, I’d say it probably does because it’s actually a really good arcade racing game.
Baja: Edge of Control HD is an off-road racer. This means you’ll be throwing tacky trucks around over 1000 miles (not a type, actually 1000 miles!) of muddy tracks. And it’s good bloody fun! I actually didn’t know what to expect from the game I’d never heard of, but once I was in my first race (just a simple exhibition to get warmed up) I soon found that I really, really liked the way this game played. Like, I really liked it, and the main reason lies in the game’s arcade physics and simple controls. Taking to the dirt in my little Volkswagen racer, I was instantly at home. Hitting the throttle and whipping into corners without a care in the world was a liberating experience. I’ve recently been playing a lot of Forza Motorsport (sorry!) where you pretty much have to drive like a grandma, so to go at it like this was a very nice change indeed.
After finishing my warm up race, I got stuck into the main course of Baja: Edge of Control HD and began my career mode. It’s actually quite robust with you starting out as a nobody before working your way through the championships to be crowned the king of racing in the dirt. You earn your cash by doing well in races, but there’s also the extra layer of sponsorship. However, it’s not as simple as just going into races with your sponsor’s logo plastered to your ride. No, you actually need to finish the race with the logo still on your vehicle. Oh, did I not mention that Baja: Edge of Control HD doesn’t give a crap if you want to drive like a dickhead and smash your ride up? Because you totally can, and most of the time I did. What? I play dirty, deal with it. On that point…
You may actually have to deal with it if you go online, as Baja: Edge of Control HD comes complete with online multiplayer as well as offline splitscreen. Unfortunately I didn’t get to test the splitscreen option, but it’s nice to have it there for whenever a mate drops round to deliver bad news and we want to work through it like men by playing a racing game. That’s just me though…
The main event with this one is the career mode. You can spend literally dozens of hours hitting the tracks, earning money, levelling up, and buying more vehicles to race. For proper petrol heads, you can even tune your ride to your own liking. Personally, I don’t know a thing about cars in real life, so I tend to stay away from these kinds of things. That being said, I did have a look over it and it seems fairly simple to get around the different menus and what not, so no worries on that front.
For extreme players looking for an extreme challenge, you can always turn on the simulation mode. This turns the game from an arcade racer into a lesson in patience. It becomes hard, like, really hard. You’ll actually need to use the brakes. What the hell? I didn’t use the brakes for the first hour! Personally, this isn’t for me. I’m quite happy enough to play through the game using the normal mode, but I guess for those who want something a little more challenging it’s nice to have the opportunity to test your skills. Just be careful, mind, as every bump in the road becomes a whole lot more, erm, bumpy in sim mode.
Let’s talk technical stuff for a moment. Baja: Edge of Control HD doesn’t match up with what’s out on the market. That much is very clear and to be honest if you’re expecting otherwise, you’re a tad delusional. It’s a HD port of a decade-old game, though there have been some graphical upgrades with this re-release. In my quest to do right by this game, I actually hunted down a copy of the PS3 original. 4€ in my local GameStop. Bargain!
Note: The screens provided in this review don’t really do it justice and you really need to see it in motion to get an accurate look at how the game looks.
I hooked the ancient PS3 up (it still worked) and gave the original release a decent play. I’d say I probably spent around half an hour or so, then I went back to the PS4 version and the changes were immediately obvious. For starters, the tracks have had a decent face lift with more details added to them, as well as spruced up particle effects. Very nice indeed. Then there’s the off-track details, so your shrubbery and the like. While you won’t spend a whole lot of time gawping at what’s by the wayside, it’s nice to see it’s a looks a little better. Vehicles have an added sheen and look quite nice, too, though they didn’t look bad in the original game. The most impressive thing, for me at least, is the sky and the clouds. They just look really, really clear. Nothing special, no hand reaching out of the clouds, just really good looking clouds. I think we don’t appreciate clouds enough in games these days. I lov – I’ve gone too far.
While it may not be a true test of your console’s abilities, Baja: Edge of Control HD certainly looks pretty good in motion. Full HD helps, too, but it’s important to remember that the graphics don’t make the game. It’s the gameplay that counts, and in the case of Baja: Edge of Control HD, it’s simply fantastic and, dare I say it, I’d be more than a little interested in seeing a new entry for the PS4.
Nudge, nudge, hint, hint, THQ Nordic.
Baja: Edge of Control HD PS4 Review
Baja: Edge of Control HD doesn't really deserve to be here; it's an old game that not many people remember. Yet here I am, quietly bemused by how much I actually enjoy the game. It's a great racer that gives you hours of silly fun, though there's a bit more of a challenge here for those who want it.
Review Disclaimer: This review was carried out using a digital copy of the game provided by the publisher. For more information, please read our Review Policy.
Reviewed using PS4 Slim.