GOONL!NE Review: Blur

Developer: Bizarre Creations
Publisher: Activision
Also on: Xbox 360, PC
Format Played On: PlayStation 3
Release Date: May 25th 2010
Age Rating: ESRB: E10+

Playing Blur can be quite a surreal feeling at times. On the one hand you have a racing game set in various scenarios like along the pier at Brighton, and you’re racing cars you could, money permitting, go out and buy right now, like Ford Focus’, VW Sciroccos and Audi TTs. On the other you’ll be racing along and get smashed up the tail end a Shunt (essentially what the red shells are in Mario Kart), which literally rams home that this is not a stock A to B racing title.

So Blur essentially is a mish-mash of two game put together, it has the speed and tracks of a game like Project Gotham Racing (which Bizzare Creation also developed) along with the weapons from Mario Kart or ModNation Racers. Blur also incorporates a levelling up system similar that which was introduced in Call of Duty 4 and has subsecquently featured in numerous games since Infinity Ward’s genre-changing shooter.

As you progress through the career mode in Blur you gain fans, which essentially a form of experience points but personification of them helps to ground the game. Fans are gained by taking attacking and taking out other drivers, or completing fan challenges that are set for you during each race. They generally consist of racing through various markers on the the course or you can be instructed to perform a drift or take out an opponent.

The career mode has three different game types: racing, checkpoint races and destruction events. In a normal race you’re lined up against 18 other drivers on the grid and your objective is simple, win. There are various Mario-inspired power-ups dotted around the circuits such as shunts (red shells), mines (banana skins) and boosts to use to gain the advantage against your fellow racers. Checkpoint takes away the other drivers and all the weapons, leaving just you and the track, however there are still some boosts and stop-clocks planted around to aid you to get to the next checkpoint. Last up is the destruction mode where it’s not longer about racing, purely as many cars as possible before your time limit runs out.

For each event you pass you’ll gain lights, five for first, for second and three for coming in third. There are 63 events in total to play through with 9 races against the boss for each section, all of whom if you beat you get their car just to rub it in that bit more to them. Whilst there isn’t a huge amount of variety in the race types, there are a decent number of tracks to race on, and as they all have slightly varying terrains throughout the course, choosing the right car for the right event more than makes up for the few game modes.

As mentioned earlier you gain fans throughout the game and increase your Fan Level. By moving up through the rankings you unlock new cars and weapon modifications for your car like an extra bolt, so you’d have four to shoot instead of three. There is a downside however and that is you do tend to rank up very quickly, and with a level cap in the single player at 25, you’ll more than likely hit it well before you finish the career.

Online Blur offers the same sort of engaging experience that there is in the single player career. Again you can choose different mods for your cars but instead of just making you a bit more potent than the other cars as what happens in the single player, this helps to spice things up online and adds a lot of variety with players choosing different mods to suit them.

Initially when you access the online multiplayer you’ll be limited to a few different kinds of races until you level up, which does also benefit the other modes you unlock later as there is less of a chance of someone aimlessly driving around and not having a clue how to compete properly on rack. The online ropes in social aspects too as you can challenge friends to complete objectives online, and this also branches into the single player too. Social networking is also present, with Blur having both Twitter and Facebook integration on top of being able to connect to the official Blur website.There’s an off-line split-screen mode as well but Bizzare have rather skimped over it, as there is no rewards at all for playing it, nor can you and a friend take your game online. Moreover the lack of a rear view mirror makes defending against attacks rather difficult.

Final Thoughts: The combination of Mario Kart and a certain degree of realism thanks to the cars helps make Blur an attractive proposition. Well balanced racing with little of the rubber banding that plagued ModNation Racers, an addictive ranking system coupled with immense satisfaction at taking down an opponent to win a race just before the finish line makes Blur highly enjoyable and ‘unputdownable’.

Gameplay: 8 – Racing is solid and enjoyable with enough just enough variety in the game to keep you from getting bored. Online is great, Blur is definitely a game for people who love multiplayer.

Graphics: 8 –  Cars look great and the general look of the game is solid.  However the menus seem out of date and some of the destruction of vehicles could do with being more ostentatious.

Sound: 7 – The weapons all sound great but the music score in the game is totally forgettable, so it’s advisable to make use of the custom soundtracks option.

Overall: 8/10 – A great game when viewed in isolation but doesn’t quite match the feats achieved by Split/Second.