Blur is an interesting game. It is a Bizarre (see what I did there) mix of Project Gotham Racing and Mario Kart. That is to say it is an arcade racer that has you driving real cars in real locations while firing some very fantastical weapons at anything else that moves.
The cars handle much like they did in PGR so if you’ve played that game you come in with a good idea of how to get yourself smoothly around the course. Though honestly, the basic driving is not immensely challenging in itself. As long as you don’t slam the gas as you go around corners you should be alright. Handling on the cars varies quite considerably between the many different brands and classes of vehicle on offer. While you certainly need to choose the type of vehicle best suited to the course, there is also some room for personal preference. I tend to favour cars that are more “grippy” to those that are “drifty”, especially in urban locations.
The driving is pretty fun in Blur, but the thing that sets it apart from your average arcade-racer is that you get to blow everyone else up. You do this by collecting power-ups that litter the track. You have three slots for the power-ups. You can select the one you want to use, or if you pick something up you don’t particularly want to use you can dump them. The power-ups include your standard shield bubble, mines and nitrous pick-ups as well ones that lets you discharge a shockwave, fire blots at long range, fire lighting storms ahead of the driver in first place and many others. The one i enjoy most is called shunt, which locks on to a car and fires a ball of kick ass at them, causing them to flip through the air.
Usually these power-ups only slows down the opposing drivers, however if they don’t grab a repair power-up they can be wrecked. You can be very strategic with how you use them. A lot of the offensive power-ups can also be used defensively. Most can also be fired backwards, or in the case of the mines, forwards. It can result in some very interesting rock-paper-scissors situations and a whole lot of chaos. This is especially true when you get 20 cars on the track. IT can be pure madness, in a very good way.
While the single player portion was not the most appealing aspect (for me at least), it is there for those that shy away from the online world. It is a fairly basic setup. There are a number of brackets, each with a named driver at the end to beat. Doing so will get your their ride. I didn’t find it particularly interesting. It is some standard fair, but the biggest problem lies in the fact that it gets pretty damn hard fairly quickly. The AI controlled drivers feel no pity. I only played a few hours of the campaign because I got a bit sick of doing the same races over and over again. And as you get a bit further into it, it stops giving you new stuff, it just gets harder.
The online portion on the other hand is pretty cool. It can get you hooked pretty quickly with its persistent reward system (ala modern warfare). As you don’t have any fixed weaponry on your cars, the rewards are the cars themselves, different playlists and mods that boost your performance. Much like Modern Warfare, you don’t have to win to rack up points, you get them for doing pretty much anything. It is worth mentioning that while playing online there were never any more than a few hundred people online. None the less it connected to a game pretty quickly and lag was never a problem.
Blur surprised me. I’m not generally a racing game type of guy, but this was a blast. Being able to shoot stuff definitely helps me enjoy it more, but I am a huge shooter fan so it’s hardly surprising. It is not hard for me to recommend this one, as long as you are aware that there is the possibility that it might be difficult to find a game online in a few months time.