Since the racing game genre started decades ago, titles such as Gran Turismo and Forza Motorsport have long maintained superior brand recognition for their excellence and precision. The desire to achieve these same crucial qualities have in many ways inspired several other companies to create unique racing games of their own. Bizarre Creations’ Blur is an arcade stylized racing game that introduces a dynamic concept but lacks versatility in other areas. Here are a few reasons why this game is fun, but will remain blurry among most racers.
Blur can best be described as a conventional racing game that uses the aesthetic of power-ups to create a compelling and rewarding experience. This title can be considered as a fresh start from the same creative team that brought you Project Gotham Racing. The driving mechanics and control scheme are virtually identical to most driving games on the market but with the added gimmick of power-ups. This provides a diverse perspective to an otherwise predictable race setup by putting both your combat strategy and maneuvering skills to the test. The power-ups are displayed, as specialized icons that appear throughout the locations you’ll be driving through. The eight power-ups include the following:
Mine– Throw mines at your opponent while driving
Shunt– Admit a powerful blast to moderately affect the drivers in back of or in front of you.
Nitro– Speed and Overtake Opponents
Shock– Emit lightning blasts to effect drivers ahead of you
Barge– Emit a forcefield that pushes close cars out your way
Bolt– Fire bolt shots at opponents
Shield– Generate a protective shield to prevent your car from attacks for up to 40 seconds.
Repair– Fix your damaged car
On the surface, each action can be deemed as either a gift or a curse depending upon the particular situation. Most attacks that are up close like the Shunt and Barge can be the most effective when timed correctly. When you get into battles where you’re far behind opponents but can visibly see them, then it’s time to use either the Bolt or the Mine. Your only allowed to have up to three power-ups at a time and can cycle between which one you want to use first. Another great aspect about this system is that if you’re the one being targeted, then you can take defensive measures by deflecting and reversing attacks against you. However it’s worth nothing that it takes a little bit of extra time to master the technique of using these powers to your advantage. The graphical details and animations are fluid with an overall slick presentation.
While the structural concept behind Blur is engaging, the same can’t be said for the single player career mode. Like most typical solo campaigns you are expected to race through several exotic locations including Downtown Los Angeles, San Francisco, and London. Completing Fan Run and Fan Target tasks increases your popularity among fans, and awards you extra lives all while upgrading your rank accordingly. There are a total of 10 rivals who represent each area you’ll be racing in. You can gain the privilege of facing them One-on-One by completing 3 different race types and meeting the rival’s set demands for each course.
This scenario usually puts you at about 6 events you have to participate in and complete 4 essential tasks for. The standard length for each race usually starts at 3 laps. These races include Normal Races, Destruction Races, and Checkpoint Matches. Destruction Races are events where you gain the most points based on the amount of destruction you cause to other driver’s vehicles. Checkpoint matches are timed events where you must progress through designated markers and are able to increase your time by capturing stopwatches. The ranking point system also allows you to unlock cars and mods every time you successfully complete a race in either 1st. 2nd. Or 3rd place. There are several licensed cars you will acquire including the likes of Dodge Vipers, Corvette’s, and BMW’s. The colors are also fully customizable by use of the respray tool.
While this may be an intriguing reason to enjoy the career mode, the drawbacks become more apparent as you get deeper into the game. The actual process of having to go through all these races can become quite repetitive and boring. Also the A.I. of the computer drivers tends to overpower you all too often, resulting in causing frustration. In many instances you may be ahead during the second lap go around only to be outrun and outmuscled by your adversaries. When your car drifts too far out of control the screen momentarily fades to black and you are forced to respawn right in the middle of a race. During the idle time the car remains invisible and other cars are able to pass by you quickly without giving you enough time to use an attack against them. This is especially problematic because if you’re in first place it’s guaranteed that you won’t be by the time your car reappears.
One of the biggest criticisms that I have with the game personally comes from the One-on-One encounters. When you finally qualify to take on a boss you are limited towards using the vehicle they assign you with. Most of your time in Blur is spent collecting unlockable cars, which can only be used in some race modes (mainly online multiplayer matches) and to look at in your showroom. Once you beat the boss you do end up taking his or her car and mod, both of which can be used at your discretion. One mod may seem like a nice upgrade to your cars, but having multiple modifications available at the end of the encounter would have made all the time spent thus far worth your while.
Blur’s online multiplayer has a lengthy amount of features that would make any racing aficionado excited. The main versus mode can be found in the Blur events section. Here there are a total of 9 driving modes to keep you and your friends busy for hours on end. Two of the key events on this list that attract the most players are the Skirmish, and Powered Up Races. Skirmish races usually involve up to 10 players at a time while Powered Up doubles that number impressively. As noted before, improving your rank in career mode increases your chances of using your unlockable cars. You’ll also gain further access to a mod shop where you will have a choice of up to four mod classes you can choose from. Each class contains three specific mods to base the framework around.
Blur also claims to have specific servers for superior gameplay and it’s easy to sign on instantly. The only drawback from the online experience comes in when you’re actually competing against other Xbox live members. Whether your online connection is stable or not, you’ll still find that often times players will reappear in front of you without having drove past you in the first place. This is particularly noticeable in the Powered Up Races because everyone is fighting to gain the number one spot. There are also instances were even if your shot is precise it’s not always guaranteed to take out your opponent. Since the game launched, a significant amount of people have ranked up and as a result your find it challenging to elevate your skills unless you’re motivated.
If you decide to pass on the tough matchups, then you can always opt to have private games with friends. This idea was originally created within Career mode, as your able to see how you did in time compared to your friends who also have the game. From here you can challenge them to races and earn achievements by winning. There are also Challenge tasks that you can complete within multiplayer online which further extend the life of the title. If you can learn to master the art of combat racing then you’ll feel right at home with the multiplayer.
Blur is a fun, but flawed racer only limited by the weak single player career mode. While it offers a robust package, the hardcore racing fan will leave this game wanting more from the experience. If Blur 2 is developed, I would expect the career mode to be beefed up and less of a redundant nature. Otherwise this game and future games in the series would become nothing more than a distant spec in your car’s rear view mirror.
This review is based on a physical copy of Blur for the Xbox 360 provided by Activision.