Review: Blur

COMBAT RACING GROWN UP

Developer: Bizarre Creations
Genre: Racing
Platform(s): PlayStation 3 & Xbox 360
Release Date: May 25, 2010
Compatability (PS3): 1.5GB Mininum Space | Players 1-4 | DUALSHOCK 3 Vibration Function | HD 720p | Network Players 2-20
Compatability (Xbox 360): 1MB Mininum Space | Players 1-4 | HDTV 720p / 1080i / 1080p | Online Multiplayer 2-20 | System Link 2-20
Rating: 8.7

I doubt there are many gamers out there that, as a kid, didn’t play a good social combat racer such as Mario Kart or Crash Team Racing once in a while. They were the ‘Goldeneyes’ of racers; four player split-screen and some friendly competition made for a good time indeed. However when the N64’s generation came to an end, this genre’s popularity gave way to more serious racers such as Need for Speed, Forza Motorsport and Project Gotham Racing and it’s now considerably harder to find a racer that is willing to trade authenticity for good old-fashioned fun. That missing piece is where Bizarre Creations’ (developers of Project Gotham Racing and Geometry Wars) latest racer, Blur, comes in.

Blur has two primary focuses: ‘powered-up racing’ and social gaming. As the term ‘powered-up’ suggests, you are given weapons to use against your rivals that are scattered along the race tracks, ranging from nitro boosts to guided rockets. Skilful driving alone will not win you the race, it takes tactical use of these power-ups to overcome your rivals, and fortunately Bizarre Creations have done spectacularly well in balancing these. Combining the two effectively will earn you Fans, which function as the game’s experience points, unlocking extra cars as you gain more and more. Blur does not fail to please the car enthusiasts in this area, there are over 55 cars in the game and don’t expect any lame invented names; every one of these is licensed and has relatively realistic stats for each, despite the exaggerated nature of the game. These are the basics of the game, and while the game is split finely between single-player and multiplayer, the social aspect carries over to both sides. The statistics from every race you complete in the single player career can be compared to those of your friends. Considering the online and split-screen multiplayer races you can also have with your amicable rivals, there is more than a little friendly competition involved.

The game's graphics are ones to look at. The weather is gorgeous.

The single player half of the game will take you roughly ten hours of total racing time. The event types are threefold: Race, Destruction and Checkpoint. Race somewhat speaks for itself and Checkpoint is the classic time trial game type involving getting from one checkpoint to another before time runs out. Destruction is fairly similar to Burnout Revenge’s ‘Traffic Attack’. You have a timer which is constantly ticking down, and the only way to alleviate the time loss is to destroy enemy cars in front of you. While Checkpoint and Destruction won’t bore the player, they simply don’t excel in the way the adrenaline-fueled races do, and personally I would have been quite happy to have played nothing but races, due to a great variety in track types and locations. The general goal in the career is to beat a set of top racers who have made a name for themselves, but the only means of convincing each of them to race you is to earn a certain number of fans, win a certain amount of races and supply to their personal demands – for example, drift a total of 200m in the preceding races. These demands add good incentive to play in a certain style during races and add variety, but actually facing the rivals in their supposedly climactic ‘One-on-One’ races tends to disappoint. Instead of a totally unique race type or track, the race is quite literally just a race between the player and him/her, and it’s often so easy that it can be beaten on the first or second try. Bizarre could clearly have pulled out the stops to make some thrilling boss races here and it’s a shame that for the most part they are even less exhilarating than the normal events against the unnamed AI. This even applies to the final rival of the game, which is thoroughly disappointing. Nevertheless, the career remains as a whole an explosive, colourful ride that does not tire easily.

Multiplayer is clearly an area that Bizarre Creations wanted to excel in, and I can confidently say it has been a success. Players can choose between ordinary races consisting of up to 10 players, or the more chaotic option of Powered-Up Races of up to 20 players. The latter does often descend into more of a huge power-up brawl than a race, but this is a lot of fun if not taken too seriously. Other game types include Team Racing and the standard hardcore playlists, but a particular highlight is Motor Mash. Here players win by wrecking as many other cars as possible in a small arena using every power-up at their disposal. This is mindless fun at its best and while racing in Blur is an exciting experience that has been pulled off very successfully, it’s still an absolute blast to just let one’s destructive tendencies run completely wild with everything the game provides.

Blur is all about fun. Make sure to book some free weekends especially if you are a racing fan.

In keeping pace with other successful multiplayer games of today, Blur has a definite interest in maintaining an incentive to keep racing and racing again in multiplayer, with challenges to complete for extra Fans, a ranking system with correlating car unlocks and now well-known ‘Prestige’ system under the name of ‘Legend Mode’. Albeit an utterly different game from Call of Duty or Battlefield, Blur does not hesitate to rise to the same standard of player service and multiplayer fans will be pleased at the way dedication is rewarded and the overall addictiveness of the game.

Despite hopeful remarks from Bizarre’s design manager Nick Davies, Blur isn’t racing’s top brand name … yet. It won’t be as memorable or have the same ‘classic factor’ as, say, Mario Kart, but all the while it is an extremely competent racer with a lot to offer the player. From blood-rushing speeds to downright silliness, it’s a game that can spend a lot of time in your disc drive before getting old. If nothing else, Blur adds the well-needed tinge of madness to the common racer, and you won’t regret a purchase.

Reviewed by failboatskipper – August 1, 2010

Graphics
Blur has a great colour palette, and it’s not hard to see similarities between it and Geometry Wars, with bright, sparky reds contrasted with deep blues. Textures and weather effects are also very nicely rendered.
 
Sound
Engine rumbles and tyre screeches sound genuine, but power-ups could have sounded more impressive and varied, and a lack of licensed music leaves the game’s soundtrack as a set of boring, forgettable techno tracks.
 
Fun
This is what Blur does best, and everything the game does is purely in the interest of fun. An addictive game with plenty to do.
 
Final Score

 

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