In real life, the Baja 1000 race, which generally runs for about 1000 miles, takes 27 hours to finish. And that's if you're the world-record holder. It's a serious business, but it's a pretty rubbish business, by the sound of it. According to our giddy THQ and 2XL guides during the game's first playable showing, racers spend up to a million dollars on their vehicles and then have to spend another half-mil on race support from a watching helicopter - all for a prize purse of just five grand.
Mind you, if you're used to that kind of return on your investment, Baja is the game for you: not only can you live out your Baja fantasy of being Steve Hengeveld or "Scoop" Vessels, but you can connect three PS3s or 360s, three screens and three copies of the game together and play in panoramic mode. Forza Motorsport 2 supports something similar, so it's not like you'll have to convince the wife or anything - she'll probably buy it for you, and then sit on your lap yelping as the children take the bus to work at the mine.
Obviously you can't expect people to sit in front of their TVs for 27 hours in a row, though, so Baja isn't all about the 1000 race. Instead - like the MX vs. ATV series, from whose developer's ranks 2XL is partly populated - the game is broken down into a large number of smaller events taking in parts of the elaborately modelled 100 square miles of terrain, and only one of those is a cut-down Baja 1000 itself. It's still an endurance effort, taking up to three or four hours to finish, but you can at least pause for a rest at intervals between the nine 20-to-30-minute stages. You can even put the game on autopilot for a bit if you need to go to the loo, with an AI stand-in taking a conservative approach that might cost you a bit of time - but nothing you can't make up by powering through with a freshly squeezed bladder.
The terrain you race across is meant to be the toughest in the world - a pretty ferocious stretch of the American continent between Ensenada or Tijuana and La Paz, populated with mountains, mud and canyons. The in-game version doesn't disappoint, with massive amount of incidental detail, cacti and shrubs wherever you look, for miles without any pop-in, and the sort of perilous terrain fans of the genre demand.
However, although you leave pronounced tyre marks, which visually are actual indentations rather than a different texture, the surface itself doesn't deform, as it would in SEGA Rally or MotorStorm. This is because 2XL believes that deformation is fairly inconsequential anyway, and that you get better returns by specifically tailoring the surface to test the limits of each vehicle.
This it does, as your vehicle - taken from one of eight classes - thunders across the tremulous terrain, pad vibrations rocking your hands and the accurately modelled suspension visually buffeting your car and taking a chunk out of your handling. (Check out how the real-life version compares to the in-game version in EGTV's comparison trailer.)