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Blur Review

by William Schwartz

The game drops players into heart-pumping, electrified racing action with 20 cars on a track all targeting the finish line and battling each other as they trade paint and collect intense power-ups, including the ability to blast other cars out of the way with huge bursts of energy, boost their speed, and more. While controlling photo realistic cars, gamers can use offensive and defensive attacks as they battle for the lead and careen through real-world track locations ranging from L.A. and San Francisco to the streets of Hackney, UK and the treacherous roads of Barcelona, Spain. Beyond the action-packed racing filled with fast curves, sneaky alternate routes, hair-raising jumps and fully realized damage models that provide for spectacular crashes, Blur’s narrative is presented through Bizarre’s innovative new community-based interface, reaching far beyond the game itself. This unique story-driving social network evolves dynamically as players compete in different races, make new friends, rivals and fans, and connect with other racers both in-game and in real life. Looking beyond Blur’s single player story, gamers can engage in competitive and team-based multiplayer races with up to 20 players online, or on a single console via 4-player split-screen. Bizarre is especially excited to introduce Blur’s original social gaming experience – Custom Groups, where anyone can create unique multiplayer modes based on their favorite ways to play the game. These new modes are immediately shared through Blur’s social network, expanding the game in ways that are only limited by the gaming community’s creativity. [Activision]

Perhaps it was the utter surprise that occurs when you actually enjoy a game that hasn’t been hyped to high heaven.  Or maybe it was reading a few negative reviews and begging to differ.  Though it’s likely the hours the have flown by while playing this enjoyable hybrid racer that made Blur such a fun time.  Bizarre makes a good arcade style racing game, and true to form Blur follows in the footsteps in the fun department of it’s predecessors in the Project Gotham series.  Though this time around you’re not just racking up Kudos, your tracking down rival racers in a ludicrously chaotic and intense racing circuit.  Blur has a single player campaign, but the that’s not where the fun is.  The real joy of Blur is getting on with friends or just other random online players on your service of choice.  Broken in down into car classes, Blur serves up hefty portions of what’s been best already described as Mario Kart for grown people.

And it is. It’s got everything that makes Mario Kart so damn fun, but it’s got slick stylish graphics, a decent soundtrack, a slew of varying powerups, but most importantly it’s fun.  Fun enough to hook you if you can get past the brief albeit steep learning curve.  This curve separates the consistent podium grabbers from the guys coming in last. But, even if you don’t go by Ricky Bobby’s motto of ” if you ain’t first your last” Blur is still a blast to play.  Because the battles that can take place at the back of the pack are often quite as exhilarating as defending a first place run.  Similar to the Modern Warfare style of online ranking you earn experience points with each race.  You will be earning  powerups and setups for those powerups, paint jobs, and cars, as well rank icons and levels.  It’s quite addictive once you start playing Blur multiplayer, and I have now lost plenty of time just stopping into play 1-2 races and end up playing 20 or more.  Which is another great thing to love about Blur.  The races are short and sweet. The time between matches the perfect amount to allow you to make changes to cars, vote on maps, and really hits the sweet spot that keeps the player racing and saying just one more level.

I have been anticipating the release this week of Blur, and last weeks Split Second, as well as Mod Nation for some time now.  Out of the three very similar titles that released within a week of one another Blur was just the most fun to play.  It doesn’t have the best graphics, presentation, or any of the qualifying factors that deem a game critically great, but for some reason it has held my interest the most of the three.  I think the main factor in Blur that really makes it stand out against its competitors is that it’s got a lot of layers.  It’s fun to pick up and play Blur with no knowledge of the game.  With that said, it doesn’t completely tilt the playing field for players that aren’t a level 50 within the first day either.  Sure, there are the guys that pirated the game and have been playing for two weeks already but you’re gonna find that everywhere, especially on the Xbox 360.  So with everyone getting a fair shot at the title in each race, the game doesn’t immediately penalize you for playing.  Which sadly was not the case when I picked up Split Second for the first time and hopped online.

Personally, I am a fan of the presentation in Blur.  Sure the in-game graphics are far from the best I have ever seen.  Gran Turismo 5 this is not. But all of the presentation parts of Blur are handled very well.  Like when you start up a new game and your latest achievements are read back to by the soothing female voice, it all just fits well. What Blur may lack in the graphics department, I think they more than make up for on the  sound end of things.  Headphones or Surround Sound Make this racing game just that much more intense.

Honestly, this is where most racing games I would go ahead at list why the career mode or equivalent is ho-hom average and has little to be desired.  But  Blur is one of the few racing games where the arcade style objectives in career mode actually make sense.  The game doesn’t take itself too serious while maintaining some degree of challenge.  The mayhem carries over quite well to the computer controlled drivers and as the mode progresses it actually can be as addictive as the online portion of the game.  Plus, you can earn cars and power-ups to carry over to multi-player, although, they don’t give much of an advantage other than aesthetics. The career mode will have you chasing down nine unique drivers to battle through a gauntlet of challenges to ultimately earn their cars and powerups. Challenges can range come from many things and they vary in difficulty as you progress through the mode.  Though, I still believe that the star of the show is in Blur’s online capabilites, they do allow you to challenge friends to any number of challenges where you compete to complete different tasks throughout the game.  If you don’t have any friends to compare yourself to, you can always see how you stack up against the rest of the world, as there is a leaderboard that also tallies the scores of non-friends on the different gametypes and maps.

Two things: Number one, Blur as much as its being enjoyed right now, seems like it could have been a little more polished in both the graphics department and controls.  Cutscenes seem out of place, and after race replays have seen better days on any number of other racers.  It doesn’t quite match the level of quality that some of the other racers out now have seemed to attain, but then again it doesn’t really need to.  Blur can be frustrating, irresponsive controls can lead to many a race being lost and more noticably many a wall run into.  A better drift mechanic could have worked wonders or a page out of the Project Gotham playbook could have led to more sliding around turns with a little more control than what seems to be offered in Blur.  With these controls accidents are often unavoidable.  When hit by powerups your vehicle will show signs of damage slowly deteriorating until much of it is sparking the ground and it is known both to you and your advisaries that your vehicle is on its last leg.  Though running headlong into a wall will do no damage, just a complete stop,  followed by a restart at a nearby location.  If you car gets sideways you can forget about navigating around this as well, as you will be restarted.  It’s a part of the game that was given consideration obviously, because there is a mod that will allow for faster restarts and with more speed.  But it does feel a bit awkward at times.

A game as fun as Blur is should definitely see more players.  As of this morning only 12,275 people have logged on to play a round of Blur Multiplayer. Only 2,000 more are on the single player leaderboards and that number seems rather small considering the quality of the title.  Having only a few hundred players to play with at any given time, limits some of the game modes.  There are more than just your standard start to finish races in Blur, a destruction derby type event where the only objective is to destroy the other vehicles.  Which is fun, but there’s noone playing it.  In fact I have yet to play a second round of the mode because there just hasn’t been anyone to play with.  Team Based racing is also available sparingly for the same reason.  With lobbies that hold 20 players that really is only a handful of rooms open at any given time.  It’s understandable though 2010 has been a devastating year to a gamers pocket.  Hopefully when payday rolls around many more will come to experience Blur in all it’s goodness.

Instead of reiterating what I have repeated more times than in any other review I have written.  I am just gonna say this once.  Blur is a fun game. If you like racers, whether sim or arcade, you would do well to pick up Blur.  Amazon might have a deal on it Here so you can always check, but even at full retail, Blur is worth the money as I have already gotten mine back when compared to other games that last 8 hrs. The good thing is, I plan on playing this for quite some time more, as I feel like I have only scratched the surface of this title.

"loved"
loved

Blur

  • Available On: Xbox 360, PS3, PC
  • Published By: Activision
  • Developed By: Bizarre Creations
  • Genre: Racing
  • US Release Date: May 2010
  • Reviewed On: Xbox 360
  • Quote: "Blur is a fun game. If you like racers, whether sim or arcade, you would do well to pick it up for its insane multiplayer fun. Think Mario Kart for adults and you've got Blur."
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