Developer: Bizarre Creations
Hurrah. Just what we need. Another racing game...
If you’re not a fan of the burn-em-up’s shoot-em-up subgenre, then walk away. Put down your gamepad or driving wheel and walk away. There’s nothing for you here. While Blur is undoubtedly well made, and slick as a lubricated seal in a waterslide, it’s not what you’d call original, nor will it be the game to convert the unbelievers.
If, however, you like your action fast, motorised and with a variety of chunky weapons, you’re going to have a whale of a time.
If you’re the sort of person who needs an obvious hook, think Project Gotham – another Bizarre Creations, er, creation of course – spliced with Burnout levels of damage and a splash of Mario Kart. Whether the game is greater than the sum of its parts is debatable – Unlike Mario Kart, in any of its incarnations, I’m not sure you’ll be playing this post-pub for years to come – but as a temporary diversion, it’s really rather good.
The “world of Blur” (as the packaging has it) is, predictably enough, a round-the-world series of races. This means you get to race your photo-realistic real motors around properly realised, actual locations – Barcelona, New York, Tokyo (natch), London, LA, Brighton. No Milton Keynes though: come on developers, if Green Day Rock Band can do it, you all can. Let’s get Milton Keynes in EVERY title!
But I digress. Sarcasm does that to me. Oh well. The sense of realism is a novel touch for this sort of title, and as well as the look and choice of vehicles, handling is secure and, you guessed it, realistic.
Your choice of vehicle is rated in terms of difficulty, handling, drift and durability. If you like to take corners going sideways, you’ve got a good few options here. If you prefer something chunky and secure, Blur also caters to your tastes. Whichever you choose though, you will need to spend time mastering it, and there’s no shunning the brake button either: this isn’t one of THOSE foot down, hope for the best titles. Oh no, Blur has proper driving chops.
Don’t worry though, it also has weapons. Lots and lots of weapons. You collect these in standard, on-track power-up format although you can actually tell what you’re getting, so you can and line up for something more immediately useful. Plus you can carry three at any one time.
The options are straightforward but effective. Mine does what it suggests. Shunt is a pulse of energy that takes out the car in front. Bolt does something similar but has to be lined up carefully. Nitro, Shield and Repair don’t really need an explanation, while Shock is pure Mario: a series of lightning blasts to slow down the race leaders and level the playing field. My personal favourite is Barge, a stupidly satisfying sideways blast that can take out several vehicles in a cluster as you push through.
The purpose of all these devices is to try and finish at least third and earn enough “lights” to progress. In the process of earning lights, you will also pick up fans every time you do cool things, like sexy drifting in front of the stand or taking out the opposition in spectacular style. The more fans you collect, the more cars you can unlock.
As with the game as a whole, it’s not original but it’s simple and easy to pick up... and tough to master. Some of the tracks are killers – ooh, look, a sharp, near-180-degree bend after a fantastic speedy straight – and there are plenty of short cuts, ramps and alternative paths to try to give you a few seconds’ advantage. And trust me, you will need a few seconds advantage. If you thought the AI on Mod Nation was psychopathic, Blur is like playing 19 Hannibal Lecters.
The funny thing? You don’t mind as much. When the cutesy MNR characters unleash missiles etc., and turn your “inevitable” victory into 12th place, it seems evil. When it’s a faceless bloke in a Land Rover... well you sort of expect him to be a complete arse. Plus, as it happens, you can see several of the attacks coming in your rear view mirror and block them with other power-ups.
In addition to the racing set up, there are other game modes of course: the what-it-says-on-the-tin Destruction, One-on-One and Checkpoint. There’s also fine level of challenge provided by the online options: if you’ve just hit a particularly good time on a track, for example, you can challenge a friend to do the same and monitor how many attempts it took them. It’s not called “Gloat” but it probably should be.
- Slick graphics and well judged controls
- The main game – and unlockable content - is a lengthy challenge that justifies the spend
- Fantastic multiplayer variations, from 4 player splitscreen to online
- You’ve seen it before in a variety of forms
- AI is tough - with a capital tough
- Probably won't convert those set against the genre
The Short Version: Yes, you’ve seen it all before, but there’s enough here to justify the investment. It’s easy to pick up – so good for nights in with the boys / girls – but difficult to master, so those obsessed with unlockable content and perfect laps will see their social lives happily destroyed for weeks to come. A crowdpleaser then, and none the worse for it.