Blur review
Available for
Xbox 360, PlayStation 3
Publisher
Activision
Blur

Reviewed by Jason Thompson

()

C

an’t. Stop. Playing. I’ve tried and tried, but to no avail. Is it still too early in the year to award a game “Best Racer of 2010”?  If not, then I think you’ll be hard pressed to find a more enjoyable racing experience that anyone can jump right into straight out of the box and dig than you will with Bizarre Creations’ fantastic “Blur.” There’s so much packed in to this title that it’s hard to believe it all works so effortlessly.

Other publications have made mention that “Blur” is a modern day “Mario Kart” with real cars. That’s partially true and even the TV commercials for the game poke fun at kiddie kart racing games, but “Blur” also has an expansive sophistication to it that succeeds in all the ways that the myriad “Mario Kart” clones have failed. Bizarre has successfully stepped out of its “Project Gotham Racing” comfort zone and given racing fans something to thrill to while still making it feel fun and familiar.

The single player career mode finds the player making his or her way through various groups of challenges that all culminate in a final race with the boss of that particular area. Competition is divided up into three basic categories: Racing, Destruction, and Checkpoint. Racing is just what you’d imagine, featuring different circuits and a set number of laps that must be completed with a placing in first, second, or third position scoring enough “lights” to allow players to unlock new areas of the game.

These lights are also acquired through Fan Demands and Fan Runs. Think of “Blur” as an event being watched live. The better you do, the more fans you’ll acquire. Scattered throughout the various tracks are the Fan Demands and Fan Runs.  Fan Demands consist of a variety of tasks, such as overtaking cars with a nitro boost or successfully shielding or avoiding incoming attacks from other competitors. The Fan Runs always consist of a set of 12 gates spread along a section of the course that players must successfully navigate within a set amount of time. Success in either challenge results in more fans.  More fans equals more unlocked cars and challenges.

Destruction and Checkpoint are pretty self-explanatory. The former pits the driver against a set of differently-skilled opponent that must be wrecked with various power-ups. The latter is your basic driving around a course as quickly as possible while utilizing nitro and time boosts to help you achieve your ultimate goal of getting through the event before time runs out.

The power-ups of “Blur” will feel familiar to any “Mario Kart” fan. There are such projectile attacks as mines, shunts, and bolts that can be fired either from the front or the rear of the driver’s car for maximum effect. Nitros, shields, and repair power-ups provide the defensive half of the action, while the Barge blasts cars in the driver’s closest vicinity off their racing lines, and the Shock creates small pockets of electrified sections of track that can slow down would-be winners in the lead.

The best thing about “Blur” is that it’s always anyone’s game depending on how power-ups are used, collisions with other cars or the environment itself, as well as the cars chosen for each race. For once, all the cars in this game are based on actual vehicles found in the real world. No crazy, made-up, tricked-out stuff here. Cars are measured based on their grip and drift. Players will definitely have fun figuring out which car will work best on which track, but as stated before, nothing is ever a given in this game.

The online mechanics of “Blur” are just as addictive as the single-player game. Players will have to also work their way up through the ranks with new fan counts online jut as they would by themselves, which doubles the fun and replayability of the game. For those looking for a tweakable experience like “Forza” or “Grand Turismo,” you may be disappointed. “Blur” allows players to change the cars’ paint job, but that’s about it. But it doesn’t need anything more than that. The crap shoot, seat of the pants vibe of the game is its most exciting feature.

Visually, “Blur” is a thrill as well. Lots of vibrant colors and awesome presentation with a soundtrack that actually doesn’t get in the way of the racing all work together to make a seamless experience. Every time a player loads the game anew, he is treated to a “Previously on Blur” recap that shows some of the career milestones achieved as well as upcoming challenges that will be experienced. This is top-notch presentation that complements rather than consumes the game.

I’ve tried my hardest to find something I don’t like about “Blur,” but I just can’t. That the game is based on a wild and wooly X factor that can never be pinpointed is so thoroughly enjoyable that one wonders why this formula hasn’t been applied before. But that’s okay; it’s here now and it more than makes up for all the years of crappy kart racers. “Blur” is pure magic.

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