Arcade racing titles have taken off well with racing fanatics and gamers alike with series such as Need for Speed, Midnight Club and Juiced proving popular. To add to the garage of arcade racers already available, Bizarre Creations have teamed up with Activision to release Blur – a new IP, which is ready and raring to go.
The main objective behind Blur’s single player is to collect lights which, upon obtainment, allow players to progress through the single player campaign by unlocking new rivals and challenges. Each section contains a number of races and demands which must be completed before players are able to take on that section’s rival. Lights are gained by completing a set of goals. The player’s primary goal is to finish the race in a certain position, be it first, second or third, which earns players up to five lights depending on where they finish. The other two goals, both worth one light each, involves gaining a specific number of fans and completing Fan Runs.
Fans are acquired by performing certain skills and abilities. This includes the standard: drifting round corners, ramming into your fellow racers and successfully using the game’s power-ups. Furthermore, players can complete ‘fan demands,’ which require the player to complete a challenge within a certain time frame – with the quicker the challenge being completed, the more fans the players obtained. Finally, players can complete ‘Fan Runs’, which consists of the player passing through a series of twelve gates – with the number of fans, once again, coming down to how quickly players pass through. Gaining fans increases the players fan status which, coincidently, unlocks new cars and items. Whereas this isn’t a particularly new feature in video games, it has been implemented well, especially with the fan demands and runs on offer.
The game features an array of power-ups, each of which can be collected and used throughout a number of Blur’s game modes. Such power-ups include: Shunt (the equivalent of a homing missile), Barge (pushes nearby opponents away from the player), Shock (a power-up that places shock fields in front of the leading player), Bolt (a firing device consisting of three shots), as well as Mine, Nitro, Shield and Repair – all of which are self-explanatory. The power-ups themselves can easily be compared to the likes of Mario Kart and, whereas they aren’t exclusive to Blur, they have been implemented very well.
Blur contains three different types of events, each of which appears numerous times throughout the game’s single player campaign and available to play in online multiplayer. They consist of: Races, Destruction and Checkpoint. Races are your straight-forward dash to the finish line where players aim to place in a higher position as possible; Destruction requires players to eliminate their opponents only using the bolt power-up and Checkpoint involves attempting to beat the timer as players drive through checkpoints – picking up stopwatches and the boost power-up along the way. Whilst it may sound like the game’s events lack in number, there is a clear distinction between each of the events that ensures the game contains enough in the way of variation.
The campaign is the only single player game mode Blur offers, with the exception of Friend’s Challenges – a simple game mode in which players from your friend list set you a challenge (based on scoring a certain numbers of fans or completing a course in a certain amount of time). The game mode heavily relies on participation from both friends – something that is unlikely to happen and, as a result, is likely to be a game mode played once and never again. Nevertheless, Blur also contains multiplayer capabilities.
The multiplayer can be played both locally and over Xbox LIVE. Within split-screen, players can play through any of the game’s single player game modes against up to four other players on the same console. The split-screen in Blur works really well and offers multiple hours of fun with friends; however, the common problem with split-screen regarding the size of each 'slice' of the screen arises – especially with four players.
The Xbox LIVE multiplayer side of Blur is split into a number of sections – each of which consists of a unique game mode or requires a specific level. For example: the ‘Driving School’ section is only available to players ranked between levels one and ten. Within each of the sections is a well-designed lobby system which keeps everything running smoothly, as well as a range of in-depth options. With the addition that players are able to race against up to twenty players in online races; the online multiplayer fantastically replicates the main elements of the fantastic single player experience.
Blur’s most unique feature is the social-networking incorporation. The feature allows players to update their Facebook and Twitter profiles with updates regarding their Blur status, with the likes of “Currently playing Blur: The Video Game.” The feature works very well, with players able to customise their posts depending on what they want to post, although constantly spamming your friends and followers with a flood of Blur-related updates may not be appreciated…
With Blur being developed by the same team as Project Gotham Racing, both titles are similar in terms of gameplay. Furthermore, Bizarre Creations have also managed to obtain the licenses for a number of cars including the Dodge Viper, Lotus Exiges and Ford Transit vans. Whilst a good amount of licenses have been obtained, the remaining cars have been customised by Bizarre to a great extent – taking the cars available to drive to a decent quantity. Furthermore, Blur also features some recognisable urban environments that have been fantastically re-created in video game form, such as the iconic Los Angeles river halfpipe and various locations across London. Although these worldwide locations have been heavily altered in order to make races more enjoyable, they still have that sense of realism.
Further adding to the realism is the graphics which, as you’d expect, is to a high standard. Everything from the environments to the cars has been designed and made to look visually stunning. Likewise with the audio, the sound effects and the game’s soundtrack are both very good reasons to turn up the volume on your speakers.
To conclude, Blur: The Video Game is one of the better arcade racers in recent times. Whilst the game doesn’t bring anything new to the table in terms of gameplay, Blur certainly is genre-defying – implementing the use of power-ups incredibly well; as well as offering a thoroughly in-depth online multiplayer. This is a title that shouldn’t be missed out on.
David Wriglesworth is a Northern lad with a passion for gaming, who graduated from the University of Lincoln with a BA (Hons) Journalism degree. If you can drag him away from the consoles, you can probably find him Tweeting or watching Coronation Street.