Thursday, 1 July 2010

Blur review

This review may come as a bit of a surprise to some of you. If you were paying attention in my Red Dead Redemption review, you will know that I fully admit my lack of ability when it comes to driving games. “So why are you doing a review of Blur, the new combat racing game from Bizarre Creations?” I hear you cry. Well, let's just call it part of my duty to uphold my journalistic integrity. Or the fact that the rent isn't gonna pay itself!

Having already established their proficiency at producing regular racing games, Bizarre now turn their attention to the arena of combat racing. Similar in principle to Burnout, Split/Second and Mario Kart, Blur surprisingly has more in common with the latter than the other grittier racers. Don't confuse that statement, Blur still uses realistic cars and physics, but the gameplay places emphasis on collecting and using power-ups, which are found strewn across the race course.

Blur features an interesting set of racer power-ups: A red homing attack (shunt), an aimed triple attack (bolt), an area of effect attack (barge),mines, nitro, shield and repair. A final rare 'shock' attack offers an interesting alternative to the infamous 'blue shell' attack from Mario Kart. Players who are lagging behind can trigger this attack to summon pillars of lightening to appear in front of the leaders of the pack, forcing them to weave between them or suffer speed-reducing damage. Each racer can store up to 3 power-ups, and almost all of them can be used both offensively and defensively, forcing the player to use them tactically.

The single-player component of the game has you competing in various events, winning 'lights' and 'fans' in order to unlock more races and cars. The events vary from standard races and time trials to destruction derby-style elimination rounds. Once enough lights have been acquired, you may challenge your rival, a high-ranking opponent who races alongside you in most of the events. If you are skilled enough to beat them, you win their car and progress to the next set of events. This kind of 'mixed-bag' gameplay keeps things fresh, giving the player different objectives for each event.

The one snag I hit during the single-player was the difficulty. The AI controlled racers seem to have no qualms in using their power-ups against you with 100% accuracy, and seem to be able to accelerate past you for no discernible reason. Having consulted more accomplished racing game fans, I found this was a phenomenon experienced by many. I would suggest novice racers set the difficulty to 'EASY'

The online component of the game doesn't suffer from the same imbalances, and is a lot of fun to play. Earning new cars, perks and abilities to suit your method of play, you can create your own monster-truck powerhouse, or a speedy Japanese drifter!

Blur's presentation, however suffers from some Bizarre (pun intended) design choices. While Blur has a fully licensed sound track (not by the Albarn-headed brit-pop band), it is turned off by default. The tracks and cars are realistically rendered, while the power-ups and their attacks are realised in shocking neon. In contrast to the purple bolts and hadouken-like shunts, the tracks (which are mostly set at night or during twilight) seem drab and washed out, and perhaps a little indistinct.

While Blur may not exactly be my cup of tea, I'm sure many others will find its frenetic charm appealing. There's plenty of achievement-style challenges to complete within the single-player campaign, and the online component will probably hold your attention for even longer. Me, I'm off to play Uncharted 2 again.

Lukao gives Blur 7 car-hadoukens out of 10

Luke Rosales McCabe

CeX UK Contributor

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