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Cian Hassett
18 Jul, 2010

Blur Review

360 Review | Does Bizzare's new baby know how to drive?
Here we go again, with yet another racing game that has a four letter title. Blur is trying something different in a fiercely competitive genre which meant that it was overlooked by many, largely due to the release of Split / Second. Maybe people forgot just how talented the team at Bizarre Creations is, because Blur offers some of the most enjoyable arcade racing you'll find on any platform. Try to imagine pushing a Nissan 350Z to the brink of implosion and battling your friends with weapons that provide a beautiful neon glow against the wet asphalt. It would be a crying shame to see Blur dismissed as just another arcade racer, because clearly a lot of time and effort has been poured into making this a well balanced game that knows how to enjoy itself. Your gaming preferences are irrelevant, Blur is quite possibly the most fun you're going to have behind a virtual steering wheel.

At a very basic level, Blur is a more arcade orientated version of Project Gotham Racing with weaponry akin to Mario Kart. There's nothing else to know about Blur because it focuses purely on racing and combat. Unlike the scenarios in the aforementioned Split / Second or even the Need for Speed series, Blur has no story to drive you (excuse the pun). Rivals are little more than a cartoon picture with a name slapped on the front, there's no recorded dialogue to insult you, and there's no open racing world to navigate. And fortunately, Blur benefits from not having any of these. The only real objective in Blur is to earn fan points in each event, hence increasing your notoriety. There are three main modes throughout the career; standard races, demolition or checkpoint (all fairly self explanatory). Once you've collected enough points, you'll then be asked to challenge an elite racer and either beat them, or destroy them. Regardless of what mode players choose, you're going to be driving at breakneck speeds and causing all sorts of havoc from New York to Tokyo. Bizzare's continued obsession with Japanese roads continues here, but players will also be given the chance to drift around street courses in new locations like the Catalonian capital, Barcelona.

Vroooom!

Vroooom!
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The beauty of Blur comes for a blend of accessible arcade racing and frantic sections where all twenty vehicles can be seen shooting, exploding, flipping or drifting...or all of those combined. Even though the career is quite linear and serves as nothing more than a gateway for linking races, it's the core gameplay that shines through and proves that Blur is more than just a side-project for Bizarre Creations. There's nothing to distract you here, you have one job and that is to win using whatever means necessary. The driving mechanics here are very basic and require little more than three main buttons; one for accelerating, braking and drifting. In terms of choosing your four wheels, the options aren't too overwhelming. There's a nice array of muscle cars, roadsters and jeeps; but a few more high profile cars would have been appreciated. Maybe Ferrari didn't want to see such great Italian manufacturing destroyed by an imaginary arsenal of weapons. Car connoisseurs might feel disappointed, but there should be a few vehicles to please everyone. Once you've gotten to grips with manoeuvring the car of your choice, you can then focus on the equally simple and equally brilliant power-ups in Blur's locker. With a quick tap of LB, players can switch between three different power-ups, and that's when things start getting serious.

There are a total of eight power-ups to use and abuse; either offensive, defensive, or both. For the vast majority of people who have had any experience with video games, there's a good chance that Mario Kart was one of the games that you were first introduced to. Blur is clearly stealing quite a few of the ideas from Nintendo's main man; for example, shunt is essentially a red shell and mines are more explosive banana peels. It mightn't be original, but it's the combination of these weapons and the scale of each race that makes this game so much fun. And that's the key word throughout, fun. Everyone knows how difficult it can be to make a game for both the casual and hardcore markets, thankfully Bizarre has nailed it. Petrol heads will be able to look past the simplicity and discover how tactics play a key role in Blur. As a giant energy ball approaches you from the pursuing pack, it can be fended off in many ways; by making a late swerve, engaging a shield or even by using some your offensive weapons in reverse and firing backwards. Aside from shields and repairs, every other weapon has an alternative use, even the nitro boost. It takes time to figure out what weapon is best suited for the current situation, but when Blur is at full throttle with twenty players, the balance of sheer fun and competitiveness is unparalleled.

Zoooom!

Zoooom!
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For the most part, Blur looks very pretty. The majority of the environments retain a gritty, urban look with a palette of dark colours. This might give you the impression of bleakness, but tracks will all of a sudden explode to life with the effects of each power-up. One course in particular sees you driving along a harbour with fireworks lighting up the night sky and reflections bouncing off your shiny metallic opponents. Your jaw won't hit the floor in the same way Forza 3 wowed the nation, but generally speaking, Blur is well above average. Whether it be an American muscle car or a classic piece of German engineering, each officially licensed vehicle is well replicated before you start shredding metal. Considering the fact that power-ups are Blur's main selling point, it's comes as no surprise to see them showing off some beautiful splashes of colour and technology. Glowing red orbs, rippling purple waves and streaks of green nitrous oxide mean that Blur is full of neon, all the while keeping that sense of realism that could easily have been lost in the barrage of weaponry. Even more impressive is Bizarre's ability to achieve all of this without a single drop in frame rate, no easy feat. While you're driving however, the HUD can become a little messy. Between lights, challenges, times and the gigantic rear-view mirror; the screen does tend to fill up quite easily. Power-ups are integrated much better and can be found hanging from the boot of your car; it looks ridiculous but without it, the HUD would be a cluttered mess. Overall though, no matter where you look (even at the main menu), Blur retains a distinct visual look and feel.

With so much emphasis placed on the huge races not dissimilar to those found in Motorstorm, certain sacrifices had to be made. Actually, just one sacrifice. The soundtrack in Blur is hugely disappointing and lacks the quality of Bizzare's previous creations which saw a stellar line-up of artists. The heavily electronic orientated tunes seem to have been recorded independently, and while they're not terrible, they certainly don't match the quality of some better known DJ's. Players familiar with racing games will know how important song selection can be, especially when you're desperately trying to reach first place. For instance, being in second place on the final lap as your favourite song starts to play, pushing your skills even further in a last ditch attempt to achieve gold. Instead, Blur has opted for background music in the hope that the intensity of the gameplay will compensate for the bland audio. In fairness to Bizarre, they were right, but Blur could have been one step closer to racing perfection had a proper soundtrack been included.

Kaboooom!

Kaboooom!
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Such is the case with most racing games released these days; how many hours will you get out of Blur? The offline modes alone will keep you busy for quite some time if you want to collect everything and complete the various challenges. Another trademark of Bizzare's work comes in the form of leaderboards which always play a pivotal role. Whether you're competing against friends or mindless teenagers on the opposite side of the globe, there's always going to be someone better than you. If you manage to achieve a fantastic score, there's even an option to share this on social networking websites like Facebook and Twitter (a feature that we could be seeing much more of the future). Up until this point we haven't really talked about the online multiplayer, and you'll be glad to hear that playing Blur against real people only adds to both depth and enjoyment. The online arena is completely separate from the single player modes; you won't have any fancy cars or unlockables so it's back to basics. Ranking up works just like most other racers, completing any event regardless of position will earn you fans and awards similar in style to Modern Warfare 2. Like any other online game, it's far more satisfying when your opponents aren't just AI. Hearing a fellow driver burst out in anger while you overtake him, or her, evokes a great sense of power and it's rare to see a game balance fun and competitiveness so well. But be warned about the people who play Blur online, if you think the Halo community is immature, you ain't seen nothing yet...

Bizzare has created another fine racing package that shouldn't be missed by anyone. What makes Blur different and arguably better than Project Gotham Racing, is that it manages to appeal to both markets seamlessly. It doesn't matter if you've been playing racing games for five years or five minutes, chances are you'll be enjoying yourself and providing a decent challenge for the rest of the group. What Blur offers is some of the most enjoyable and rewarding arcade racing since Burnout 3, and that in itself is great praise for a new franchise. No matter what type of race you choose, no matter how many opponents there are; you're always going to be having fun. The only real flaw stems from the soundtrack, but considering how well designed the rest of Blur is, it would be unjustified to complain too much. Ask yourself a few easy questions; do you want a racing game for the family? Do you want something that's long-lasting and tactical? Or do you just want something a little bit more mature than Mario Kart? If you answered yes to any of those, go out and buy a copy of Blur immediately.
The Score
Bizzare hasn't broken any rules, instead choosing to fine-tune and streamline Blur into something that every racing fan should experience. 8
Looking to buy this game right now? PALGN recommends www.Play-Asia.com.

Related Blur Content

Blur delayed until 2010
22 Sep, 2009 Bizzare's weapons-based racer hits the skids.
Bizarre Creations shows off Blur
21 May, 2009 Blink and you'll miss it.
New racer from Bizarre announced
23 Apr, 2009 It's a Blur.
14 Comments
3 years ago
PALGN wrote
If you answered yes to any of those, go out and buy a copy of Blur immediately
Advice taken just picked up a copy online , looking forward to racing. Thanks for the sweet review icon_smile.gif
3 years ago
I hope you're not disappointed. How much did you get it for online? It's $59 in the shops, bargain.
3 years ago
According to their site, GAME only have the 360 version for $59. Why must the PS3 version be $10 more? icon_sad.gif
3 years ago
Yeah, I’ll agree with most of that. It needed a 9 at the bottom, but we’re still cool, Cian. I honestly feel that Bizarre have brought the genre to a whole new level, as aside from a few issues (connection problems, occasional cheaters, some inconsistencies with the shield and, yeah, the soundtrack) the mechanics themselves are close to perfect. There’s really been a lot of fine tuning done here, because those who win online the majority of the time really are the ones who know the game best. And that’s what it’s all about for me.

It’s a shame the game didn’t generate more attention, because it really is some of the most fun to be had online. Dicks certainly make up a decent portion of the online fanbase (I think that’s more so due to the sheer amount of losers occupying online gaming than this particular game producing them), but you’ll get your good lobbies from time to time. But that’s just it – even if you’re surrounded by wankers, it makes it all the more fun to cause as much trouble as possible. Nothing better than hearing endless amounts of trash talk followed by whinging, excuses and virtual death threats from gaming warriors. It really does make my day.

But while I’m here, if you still play then add me for some multi. Good Aussie matches are hard to come by.
3 years ago
Cian wrote
I hope you're not disappointed. How much did you get it for online? It's $59 in the shops, bargain.
I'm in NZ and haven't seen any great specials. But it's moot coz I only payed $48.7274 AU with free post, Brand New & Sealed.
Cheers
3 years ago
Great review, this game is great fun. The soundtrack is pure rubbish, but I suppose Bizarre figured that people just play their own music over the top anyway, so why bother?

It should also be noted that this game has really, really good splitscreen multiplayer, a rarity these days. Anyone with >1 controller should buy this to support splitscreen gaming. Racing with 3 other mates while taking on 6 other AI is pretty awesome, even if the AI always seems better than me.... Pity there's no splitscreen stat tracking a la MW2, but no issue.
3 years ago
Had a good bash at the local splitscreen the other day - 4 player at work over the projector. Pretty damned good, I have to say! I'm not sure it can tip Mashed of the top of the local 4-player car-based madness gaming podium, but damned if it isn't nipping right at it's heels.

Seriously, this game is worth it just for 4 player matches in the Amboy dustbowl.
3 years ago
I nearly bought this on Saturday for a little get together I was having... except my local EB and KMart didn't have it in stock! Damn stores, not wanting my money.
3 years ago
I downloaded the multiplayer demo when it was released early last week and found myself really enjoying it. There was a level of depth to the gameplay that was incredibly rewarding, only if you manage to take advantage of it though. Getting to the front of the pack through strategic use of the power-ups is about as satisfying as gaming can get.

I'm thinking of picking this up sometime in the future. I only hope the online community keeps playing till I arrive...
3 years ago
Capoeira wrote
There was a level of depth to the gameplay that was incredibly rewarding, only if you manage to take advantage of it though. Getting to the front of the pack through strategic use of the power-ups is about as satisfying as gaming can get.
Yeah the power-ups add that 'clawing to the front of the pack' kinda feel to it. The demo really reminded me of Wipeout HD which I played religiously for a long time. The racing in Blur is a little more forgiving though, probably a good thing =)
3 years ago
Bloody Tears wrote
But while I’m here, if you still play then add me for some multi. Good Aussie matches are hard to come by.
Yeah I'm up for some multiplayer, my GT is Crooked Cian.
3 years ago
The problem with this game is pretty much the same problems that has plagued Bizarre since PGR2. MSR, PGR and PGR2 were incredibly focused pieces of work, with a good selling point. What sold me on PGR were the 200 tracks you could race on offering lots of variety... and then in PGR2 they expanded it to cities that hadn't been driven around before.

They started to lose the plot with PGR3, because we had played PGR3 before, it was essentially PGR1. And with HD graphics they could no longer budget for 10 cities, but 4 new cities and 5 old cities in PGR4 which really made for an odd game. Gran Turismo and other games recycle their tracks, but along with bikes and weather changes, it really felt like a random wish list of stuff, there was never a strong selling point, and thats probably why it wasn't a success.

Whoever is heading up the Bizarre design team hasn't done his marketing degree. What is Blur? No one really knows - it looks like a weird racer with sub standard glowing effects. Why would the majority buy a game they don't understand. When the read the previews and reviews, it seems they added a lot of stuff that was unecessary terminology like fans and lights, fan demands and fan runs, and the weapon systems, its too easy to lose people, i know i wanted to play the game cause I play all Bizarre games, but i couldn't be bothered reading the preview.

I do agree it makes for a lot of replay value though, but the system is convuluted.

Secondly the weapons system in terms of how it looks is bland and uninteresting. I guess thats just my opinion but why didn't they use real weapons like rockets and electricity or flame throwers etc. The glow effects just seemed weak and lame.

The game would have also suited made up cars rather than real cars. The weapons system just didn't seem to fit the real cars. Similarly the tracks were really uninspiring and very bland. They could and should have used imaginery locations. I would have loved a ridge racer style game with weapons and grittier graphic style.

Its a shame because the game mechanics have been fine tuned to absolutely the premier weapons racing game ever made. The offense, defense system is fantastic. You are given plenty of opportunity to defend yourself. The 20 cars and weapons make for great racing (and crawling up the field as Grim-One has said, like Ridge Racer or Daytona).

But unfortunately the game isn't going to sell, because most gamers are going to look at the game and ask what is this - cause in marketing you get about 3 seconds to catch someone's attention and by the looks of things Blur is just going by the wayside.
3 years ago
arbok wrote
I guess thats just my opinion but why didn't they use real weapons like rockets and electricity or flame throwers etc.
Probably because they didn't want to look like they were ripping off Full Auto. Honestly, I couldn't care less if the weapons are real or not, as long as they're fun to use and well balanced.

I think the idea of using real cars is great, it helps to get fans of games like Gran Turismo into the game, as well as car enthusiasts. Plus, I think some people secretly enjoy driving their dream car, even if it's only a virtual one. icon_lol.gif You rarely see real cars in an arcade style game like this, it's a nice change.
3 years ago
^ hehe - thats exactly what i was thinking full auto... but i get that real cars is great - im just not sure the mix between real cars and glowing weapons was the right design choice... it really feels like they were cutting corners in a lot of places with this game - the cities, the real cars, the weapon effects etc.

but i love the actual racing, ive only been playing it on single player but it feels fun whether you come 1st or 10th and finally in a weapons based racing game, i dont feel cheated when someone hits me. The amount of time they spent fine tuning the game, given it was delayed a good nine months was really shows in the final product.
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  Pre-order or buy:
    PALGN recommends: www.Play-Asia.com

Australian Release Date:
  26/5/2010 (Confirmed)
Publisher:
  Activision
Genre:
  Racing
Year Made:
  2009
Players:
  4

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