I play with a keyboard and I actually recommend playing that way. I tried playing with my xbox controller but the default controller bindings were too complicated. Playing with a keyboard simplified the controls to single key presses rather than button-and-keyboard combos with a controller.
Still I don't know if I totally recommend the game itself. It helped once I discovered that each vehicle has an 'offroad' rating. However that would have been nice to know to begin with so I could have avoided trying to beat a race with one of the worst rated offroad vehicles in the game. Choosing a vehicle with a high offroad rating obviously makes the game a lot easier. Actually, I'm certain that specific levels are not completable with the lower rated machines.
How much you enjoy this game depends on how much you like offroad driving. It's hard to call this a racing game, although technically your time is compared to opponents. It's really more of a skill challenge through an obstacle course that you try to complete as fast as possible. It's nowhere near as fast as a traditional racer, in fact, sometimes you slow to a crawl over the more difficult obstacles. It's often an exercise in frustration with a bit of fun once you complete a hard obstacle.
Overall, I find it hard to recommend this game. It's alright, but I wouldn't say it's for the typical racing fan. Buy it while it's on sale or something if you're curious. Don't go out of your way, though.