May 2010 was a busy month for racing titles, what with ModNation Racers, Split/Second and Blur all hitting the scene round about the same time. Developed by Bizarre Creations and published by Activision, Blur is technically an arcade style racing game that features real world cars in modified real world locations, mixed together with the explosively fun mechanics of power up speed battles.

In terms of the cars available to be unlocked and played with, Blur runs the full gamut, featuring everything from Dodge Vipers, Lotus Exiges to Ford Transits and even the classic Volkswagen Beetle. Each licensed car has a set of attributes which includes the usual grip, speed, acceleration, handling and health, all of which places it into a particular group of cars like Drifty or Offroad. Obviously the combination of group and attributes effect the handling of the car in a significant manner, forcing the player to pick the car that best suits his style of racing and more importantly, the type of track on which the race is to take place.

In addition, all cars have varied damage models as well, meaning that your pristine, color-changeable car is guaranteed not to come out of a racing looking like it went into it in the first place!

The locations are all modelled on real world locations like the Los Angeles halfpipe and several parts of London, though these are heavily modified and thus don’t quite match their real world counterparts 100%. However, this is done on purpose to increase the enjoyment factor of the various races, and as a result, you are left with a handful of stunning tracks in very varied locations, each with numerous paths and guaranteed to give you a good test of your racing skills!

Having spoken about the cars and the locations, next up is the power ups. These are color-coded glowing pick-ups are broken up into specific categories, namely attack, defence and boost. Under boost you have the boring ability of being able to restore your car to full health, as well as the far more fun Nitro which of course sends your car hurtling forward at break neck speeds. Defensively you get your standard shield power, which lasts a couple of seconds and is guaranteed to get you out of trouble. As for the attack powers, they get broken up according to range. For long distance, you get Shock which basically creates electric domes further down the track, capable of hitting a car’s electrics and bring it to a sudden halt. Shunts are homing missiles that lock on to a target in front of you and throws it up into the air on impact. Barges are close range blasts of energy that emanate from your car, knocking back anything that is close to you, while Missile gives you three shots to try and hit a car and knock it off its line. Finally Mines can be dropped in a defensive pattern to give you that edge and protect your back.

All powers can be used directionally, and attack powers can be nullified by destroying them with other attacks, making for some rather strategic game play as you battle to keep your eye on the track, manage your power ups, blow the competition out of the race, and keep checking your rear-view mirror!

As with any racing game there are a number of different game modes available to choose from, including the standard multiplayer option which allows for up to four players via splitscreen locally, or online for races of up to 20 players. The single player mode consists of a number of locked “stages”, each with a boss and each with a varying set of objectives to complete before unlocking the final “boss” race for a chance to win their car as well as special load out ability.

There are loads of rewards and unlockables and of course the nifty integrated social media aspect of the game to ensure longevity, but you’ll find that the simple act of a four man game on a split-screen providing the biggest thrills once you’ve made your way through the single player levels.
Visually Blur is pretty polished, with pretty car models to look at and decently detailed backdrops to complement the racing action. The various power up effects add some nice visual “oomph” to the onscreen, blurry racing action. Similarly, the aural aspect of Blur doesn’t disappoint, with a particularly potent opening video and hauntingly beautiful game menu music. I would however have preferred some slightly harder music tracks for the actual in game racing segments, but the music they chose does work, and it doesn’t over power the sound of the straining engines and the madcap power-ups being flung around left, right and centre.

All in all this is arcade racing at its most fun. You accelerate, you brake, you turn, and occasionally fire all sorts of nasty surprises at your opponent while always keeping a wary eye on the rearview mirror. Tons of fun, both in the single player and split-screen multiplayer modes and thus well worth picking up, especially if you are not one of those detail-mad racing genre fanatics but do still enjoy tearing around the track regardless!

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