Thursday, September 13, 2012

Blur

Car-wrecking mayhem.
Review By Ken Inferno

Blur is an arcade racing game developed by Bizarre Creations (the team behind Project Gotham Racing series). It can be labelled as "the Mario Kart for grown-ups" since it combines the weapon-based racing aspects, a staple feature of Mario Kart series, with real world cars and locales. Blur also offers one of the best online multiplayer in racing games.

The single player Career mode offers nine different groups of multiple events. The most basic type of event is Race where up to 20 cars competing for the first place while at the same time, using power-ups to attack other cars. Another type is Destruction race where you have to chase and destroy as many cars as possible with Bolt power-ups within the time limit and wrecking each car nets you points and extra time. 

The next one is checkpoint runs in which you will have to pass through a certain number of checkpoints before time runs out. Finishing in the top three positions in those events will reward you with "Lights" which in turn unlock new events and eventually new groups. "Fans" which unlock new cars, are another type of reward which can be obtained by simply using power-ups or performing fan demands during races.  

Each group of events has its own champion who you can challenge to a one-on-one race once you meet his/her demands by competing in events within that group. Most of these demands are pretty easy to meet but some can be very frustrating and you might end up playing an event again and again to achieve that particular demand. When you do have to retry an event, the game allows you to change your car without returning to the main menu, which is a nice addition. 

Beating a champion will reward you with that champion's car and a new mod which will grant you some in-race abilities or bonuses when attached to your car. You can equip only one mod at a time in single player although in multiplayer, you can equip up to three. Equipping these mods can really give you an edge during frantic races.

As for power-ups, there are a total of 8 different power-ups which can be used in both offensive and defensive situations. Most of them are pretty obvious such as Nitro power-up, which gives you a speed boost or Repair power-up which, well, what do you think it does? But some power-ups have complex uses like Shunt or Bolt power-ups that can be fired forward to attack other cars or backward to protect yourself from others. The rear-view mirror at the top of the screen can greatly help you in defending yourself. You can store up to 3 power-ups at a time and cycle between them or discard ones that you don't want allowing you to change your tactics accordingly.  

The single player mode is quite fun and will offer many hours of playing, but it is the multiplayer mode where Blur excels at. Like many other kart racers, playing with friends and smashing their cars with cool power-ups will bring out Blur's best experience. Then again, with up to 20 players fighting for positions and power-ups flying everywhere, it can be quite messy and chaotic. You might just want to concentrate on dodging incoming firearms instead of getting first place. 

There are also team matches and hardcore races with no items. Like single-player career mode, there is a rank system and tons of new challenges and contents to unlock. By competing in races or completing challenges, you will earn fans which in turn increase your rank. The highest attainable rank online is 50 and once you reach that rank, you can revert back to rank 1, trading your rank for a unique legendary car. And there is a local four-player split-screen mode as well.

The visual presentation of Blur is quite mixed, ranging from just average to impressive. Car models are highly detailed (you can see the drivers shifting gears) and weapon effects and crash animations are pretty cool. But the same cannot be said for background textures. They just look blend and outdated comparing with other racers of this generation. Each of Blur's power-ups has its own unique sound effects and there is a female announcer who fills you with everything that is happening. Blur also features a nice soundtrack which is turned off by default.

There are about 30 tracks in many different locations ranging from L.A. and San Francisco to UK and Barcelona. Many of these tracks are well-designed and filled with alternate routes and high jumps out of buildings. Over 65 different vehicles can be unlocked and achievements come in the form of in-game stickers. So, Blur single player can offer you at least 20+ hours of gaming. Add to that, competitive multiplayer and Blur can keep you playing for quite some time.

Blur may not be so original but it does offer some refreshing ideas to the old Mario Kart formula. It's fast-paced racing, deep power-ups system and addicting multiplayer gameplay will ensure that you will come back for more.

NAME: BLUR
SYSTEM: PlayStation 3, PC, XBOX 360

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