There’s been a lot of animosity directed at THQ Nordic from the motocross gaming community, but I’ve never gotten to experience first-hand the justification for it until this morning. I was really hoping to spend a large portion of the day playing Baja: Edge of Control HD – as I have no problem listing it as one of my favorite Xbox 360 racers, and could not wait to play a remastered rendition on modern hardware – but after purchasing the game twice, and requesting a refund once, I’m left pretty disgusted at the kind of bullshit THQ Nordic have pulled here. To put it plain and simple, Baja: Edge of Control HD should not have been released, as there are pretty mind-blowing controller problems across multiple platforms.
Initially, I purchased the game on Steam, as it’s about eight dollars cheaper than the PlayStation 4 version for unexplained reasons. The game honestly isn’t a very big download, I think I recall seeing it somewhere between four and eight gigabytes, meaning it was ready for consumption in around seven minutes. This may sound pitiful by today’s standards, but the actual game itself is quite good; with over 170 vehicles split between ten classes, and upwards of one hundred tracks in both circuit and point to point format, Baja as a complete package back in the day was a pretty exciting niche offering provided you could get over the atrocious graphics – hence the point of the HD version in the first place.
My own personal hype train was derailed when I discovered that on the Steam version, the external controller config applet doesn’t actually work. By default, keyboard keys are mapped to all of the buttons on the Xbox 360 controller, obviously so you can bust out a controller and reconfigure everything to your desired layout – which 99% of the time you’re just going to mirror the stock layout and just ensure all the respective axis’ are correct. Here is where things get absolutely insane – the applet crashes upon trying to do so. You know, the basic process of clicking on “Throttle” and pressing R2 to map that button as your gas pedal? Crashes the applet. One hundred percent serious here.
So obviously that means no wheel support either, as while there’s indeed a tab you can click to configure your racing wheel prior to launching the game, and graphically it is a nice applet, again rebinding crashes the thing. Playing Edge of Control HD on the PC right now consists of pressing the “O” key as your throttle, and using the arrow keys to turn.
With little activity in the forums to give me faith that this would be fixed, I promptly requested a refund for the game on Steam, and purchased the allegedly superior PS4 version, which a whole bunch of YouTube gaming channels have been demonstrating for THQ Nordic over the past little bit leading up to the game’s launch. I figured that maybe Sony would hold these guys to a higher standard, and I could have faith that both a standard DualShock 4, as well as a Logitech G29, would work out of the box. I wasn’t expecting a great driving experience – this is a weird quasi-simulator, with detailed mechanical failures yet a larger than life driving model – but as I mentioned before, I loved this game back in the day and was jacked that the graphics are no longer a blurry mess, so whatever, in my opinion they fixed the game’s biggest problem and I’d have a cool sorta-casual off-road game in my library.
The Logitech G29 works, only if by the definition of “works”, do you split hairs and have an impromptu debate over what is considered “working.” I can turn the wheel from left to right, and it indeed goes the full nine hundred degrees. I can rev the engine by pushing the throttle. I can also push in the clutch and rev the engine from a standstill. The brake pedal, however, is stuck at one hundred percent input no matter what you do. It is almost impossible to leave the starting line unless you constantly mash the clutch and throttle in succession. If not, the truck hangs on the starting line at 2300 RPM and slides sideways. This game is $39.99 on the PlayStation Store.
If, by some act of god the brake pedal doesn’t stick – about 50% of the time for me – other issues arise when you do get moving. The change camera button has been mapped to the PS4 Share button, and the share functionality overrides the ability to change the camera, so if you drive with a wheel, you’re stuck in chase view. There isn’t even a way to change it in the options. The wheel sensitivity slider also warrants no change, meaning a lot of the vehicles in the game require gigantic steering inputs just to take gentle corners.
What makes this strange, is that I can plug my Logitech G29 into my PlayStation 3, boot up the original Edge of Control, and it works flawlessly. The sensitivity is better, the button mapping allows you to change the camera, and the brake pedal does not stick. The problem I have in doing so, is that the PlayStation 3 rendition was dogshit in comparison to the superior Xbox 360 version due to mammoth framerate troubles, which is why a remaster of this title was justified in the first place. Furious? Absolutely. When it comes to old games receiving a high definition upgrade, a reasonable outcome is to discover that it just ain’t like it used to be, or that the nostalgia goggles are almost blinding to a game’s faulty mechanics. But with Baja: Edge of Control HD, sometimes I can’t even get off the starting line when trying the title on multiple platforms. The PC version’s controller config tool crashes upon trying to rebind anything, and the PS4 version features incomplete wheel support.
Can you play with a standard DualShock 4? Well, yes. The problem arises in just how long some of Baja’s marquee events happen to be. While you can indeed slug it out in five lap circuit races that are on-par with what you’d expect from a traditional off-road racer, the enjoyable part of Baja comes in tacking the ultra-long point to point stages chained together to make up the sanctioned SCORE 250, 500, or 1000 mile races. If you’d like to drive for upwards of two hours with a gamepad, by all means be my guest, but I sure as hell don’t.
This is really just the start of the game’s fundamental problems. Occasionally, collision detection gets disabled during a race, resulting in pretty comical moments where you can just drive through the field at your own free will as seen below. In other situations, the game’s dashboard camera generates a giant black artifact across the screen, making it impossible to drive in anything other than chase view. Split screen racing with a friend causes the game to lose all sound until you restart the application. The original game did not have these problems; for the most part it was a solid, albeit highly obscure trophy truck racer.
The motocross gaming community have had similar problems dealing with THQ Nordic, but due to the popularity of an older title – MX vs. ATV Reflex – they’ve for the most part been able to avoid this kind of ineptitude by merely playing a different game. For those of us who loved Baja, and there were a lot of us, we don’t really have a choice here – we really needed the remastered version to be 100% functional. Right now, it’s not.