Everything about Blur, from the gameplay to the marketing campaign, screams hardcore Super Mario Kart, and if people consider that a bad thing they need to remember how fun Mario Kart used to be. Blur is every bit as fun as the game it tries so hard to impersonate and then some, by adding layers of high sheen polish missing from Nintendo products. The cars you race are licensed and look lifelike, the race tracks you drive on are inspired by real places and the effects are so amazing you’ll play with your mouth open at times.
Blur is all about fast racing and taking down your competitors in any way possible. This includes shooting them with projectiles or laying land mines that will trip them up on the next lap. Most power ups can be fired forward or backwards to help you advance or to give you a little bit of defense. Power ups are also used to change up the gameplay, with some races asking you to shoot cars till they are destroyed to add seconds to a ticking clock. Some less inventive but still fun races include using nitro to boost through time trials.
The wealth of gameplay found in Blur outmatches most racers on the market today. There are a dozen different single player race types with five different classes of vehicles to unlock. You’ll unlock modifications that can be attached to a car at the beginning of a race to either boost a power or change how you use it. Instead of using a shield as a defensive tool, one mod allows you to take it on the offensive and ram other players off of the track. If playing by yourself gets boring, take to the internet and race against other people across the world to earn experience points and level up your profile. As you level up, you’ll unlock different mods and cars that will allow you to compete with the higher level players. The entire thing has a very Modern Warfare vibe to it and can be as addicting.
Career mode starts off to be slightly linear but opens up the more races you win. Collecting lights or completing fan demands will unlock more cars you can use in each license class, which may help complete some of the more challenging races further down each tier. Along with special races, the career mode introduces you to special characters within the Blur fiction; each one has their own tricked out vehicle and method for racing. After completing four special goals for each character you’ll be able to race them in a one on one race to win the pink slip to their car. These enhanced vehicles not only look awesome, they have considerable stat boosts to their standard counterpart. It’s possible to move onto another character’s set of races without beating him, leaving the career mode pretty open to completion. Just don’t expect to win races in Class A with only the starter vehicles, as once Blur gets going the difficulty demands you to step up to the challenge.
All of this would mean nothing if the cars handled like bumper boats, which is where Bizarre Creations uses their background of realistic driving sims to make an arcade racer feel real. Crashing into walls will shred chunks of metal or plastic from the body and it’s possible to wreck the car outright if you take enough damage. The more damage you take, the harder it might be to take turns or the slower your car is on straight away, but there are power-ups to refill life. Each car will handle differently with some being better for off road tracks while cars that drift might work better on courses that have a lot of turns; if you find one race hard to complete odds are you haven’t found the right vehicle for the job. Drifting around corners takes getting used to, with cars tending to spin around or lose all momentum if you don’t let go at the right time. Taking the power-ups out of the race completely is the true test to these types of games and Blur holds up beautifully. In most multiplayer matches my friends and I switched up cars nearly every match just to experience the map differently.
Bizarre Creations deserves a lot of credit for offering split screen multiplayer, although the visuals end up turning towards the wrong side of ugly. The ability to let you and three of your friends jump onto a single console and play together is great and should be applauded. This is more than most companies are willing to do in an era when online multiplayer means more copies sold and revenue through unnecessary subscriptions doesn't need justification. You’ll be able to create custom playlists with different race types and maps, and after every race each player can vote on the next map to play a lot like an online party system. What you get with four player split screen is one pretty ugly looking game. After showing friends the multiplayer we jumped into some single player races and everyone remarked on how amazing it looked. It’s a trade off I’m willing to make every time, and if you don’t play split screen you’ll never encounter it.
Not As Good As: Forza 3
Also Try: Split/Second
Wait For It: Grid 2
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