Blur is certainly an interesting title. Developed by Bizarre Creations (the same studio behind the famed Project Gotham Racing sim series), Blur is a mix of arcade and kart-style racing. It’s definitely an unorthodox mix, but leave it to the team behind one of the biggest names in simulation racing to pull off this impressive title. Though the interface can take a little getting used to, Blur definitely is the most memorable automotive title of the year thus far, and it definitely deserves a spot of the shelf of any automotive or racing fan.
Right from the moment you start up the game, Blur has a distinctly unique feel to it. The game’s menu system takes the form of a social networking interface, with information about rivals, friends, and opponents. The menu system is a little crowded, and the game wisely launches you into a tutorial to get you acquainted with Blur’s setup. Your goal in the world of Blur is two-fold: get “lights” for winning races, and gain fans by driving tactically and using power-ups to gain an advantage over the competition.
The power-ups in Blur work in almost the same way as the mystery boxes in Mario Kart, and it is clear from the game’s design (as well as Blur’s promotional material) that that is precisely the way it is supposed to seem. However, even though the basics are the same (run over power-up, press button to fire) there are several key differences in Blur that make it seem like the full realization of the kart-racing ideas set down almost two decades ago.
There are eight different power-ups in Blur, and each can be used in both offensive and defensive situations. Most are straightforward, like the Nitro power-up, which gives you a temporary speed boost, and the Barge, which pushes cars near you out of the way. However, there are some more complex power-ups that can be used in a variety of situations, like the Shunt, which is a large projectile that you can either fire at other players or keep to protect yourself from fire from other players. The same thing goes for the Bolt power-up, which can be used to fire small projectiles at cars or to keep cars behind you at bay. In addition to these combative power-ups, there are also some strictly defensive power-ups that you can use including a Shield power-up which temporarily protects your car from damage and a repair power-up that gets rid of any damage you have taken.
With all of these power-ups, it is very possible to create a cohesive strategy to tackle the various challenges in Blur, especially considering you can stack up to three of these power-ups at a time and use them as you see fit. And if the mere presence of these power-ups didn’t get you excited, there’s also a load-out “mod” system that allows you to use power-ups in even more ways, depending on what your individual mod is. For instance, after beating the very first “boss” level, you unlock a mod that allows you to have one extra bolt shot every time you get that power-up. Other load-out possibilities include a shield that absorbs fired power-ups and once that increases effectiveness of offensive power-ups.
Although the power-up/load-out system may seem complex at first, Blur does a great job of introducing them very slowly, and giving players enough breathing room to formulate their own strategy. There are plenty of levels to play through, and when you are playing the career mode, there are enough main, secondary, and optional challenges to merit several replays. Blur is certainly a game you will be spending a lot of time with, and there is so much to do within each level/challenge, that it can almost be overwhelming.
Besides, doing the secondary and optional challenges carries heavy rewards, including high-performance vehicles, so it is definitely in your best interest to take the time to complete these extra facets of the game in order to round out your vehicle list. The vehicle roster includes models from BMW, VW, Ford, Chevrolet, and more. In addition, there are also different styles of car to unlock. For example, you can unlock the ubiquitous VW beetle in both a Rat (untuned) version, or an off-road version (which boasts a much sturdier construction). Unlocking all the game’s 50+ vehicles is definitely no easy feat, but if you are committed to all the game’s numerous challenges, then you’ll be able to complete your garage in no time.
As far as handling is concerned, you might expect Blur to be a straight-up arcade affair. However, this isn’t exactly the case. Though the game certainly handles speed and drifting in a fast-paced arcade manner, there are some sim elements to the game, and you’ll notice that your car’s steering radius and braking strength will vary widely depending on your car’s model, so you will need to adjust your driving style quite a bit if you are jumping between the aforementioned VW Beetle and something larger, like a Land Rover.
Of course, like any good automotive title, the experience in Blur is not limited to just offline play. The online mode in Blur is quite expansive, and it allows you to continue your progression in the game with regard to fans and earned lights. The online mode uses the same social networking interface that the career mode uses, and you can identify friends and rivals in the online sphere and keep track of their progress. In addition to the regular online race modes, there is also an online mode creator that allows you to customize the way you play online. There is plenty to unlock and discover in Blur’s online mode, and though it does not feel as extensive as the career mode, you’ll still have plenty of fun taking down rivals and unlocking cars online.
Blur is certainly an expansive title, and the more you play it, the more you get lost in it. I expected a lot from Bizarre Creations, considering the Project Gotham Racing series is considered to be one of the best automotive franchises of the past. However, in many ways Blur surpasses its predecessor, both in terms of scope and in accessibility. Blur’s mix of strategy-based power-ups, load-out menus, and largely varied challenges really make this game a must for all automotive fans. In a genre this oversaturated, it is good to know that there is still some innovation left. Though Blur borrows some of its biggest ideas from pre-existing games, it blends them together in a way that feels completely natural. It may sound clichéd, but Blur is a title that is easy to pick up but hard to put down, and it is a must-buy for all automotive fans.
RATING OUT OF 5 RATING DESCRIPTION 4.3 Graphics
Cars look great and tracks are highly detailed. Crash animations are good, but not the best we’ve ever seen. 4.5 Control
Arcade controls are very easy to pick up, but subtle control nuances for each vehicle keep you actively engaged. 3.7 Music / Sound FX / Voice Acting
Background music and car sounds are passable, but not spectacular. 4.9 Play Value
The career mode has an amazing amount of depth, and unlocking all the cars and completing all the challenges will take at least twenty hours (if not more). Add an expansive online mode, and you’ve got a game that will keep you busy for quite some time. 4.6 Overall Rating – Must Buy
Not an average. See Rating legend above for a final score breakdown.