Blur: A review

2 Apr

I’ve been meaning to write this for ages; since I wrote my (very) quick review, in fact. If you read that, you’ll know that I was enjoying it, or at least I was having difficulty turning it off. I took that as a good thing, but I thought I’d give it a reappraisal now that I’ve had it a little longer.

I haven’t changed my mind; I still think it’s good, and I still think it’s addictive. Well, that’s the review sorted….wait, this is supposed to be longer, isn’t it? Ok. If you haven’t heard of it before, and frankly, I wouldn’t be surprised, Blur is a racing game, but one of those “vehicular combat” racing games. i.e. “Cars with guns and stuff.”

The single player mode consists of a few different types of events – Normal races, checkpoint races, and destruction events; Normal races are exactly that, checkpoint races are a race against the clock, and destruction events are also against the clock, but the extra time is earned for destroying other cars instead of passing checkpoints. In each section of the career mode, you’re given certain “demands” from rival drivers that you need to beat in order to race against them in their “one to one” race. It’s very basic stuff, and thankfully, there’s very little story. Intentional or not, the single-player mode actually serves as a great warm-up for playing online.

The cars in the game are all placed into categories ranging from “Very Grippy” to “Very Drifty”, which is refreshingly simple for a racing game, and, as you’d expect from a Bizarre Creations game, the handling is wonderful and nicely varied between the car classes, which are pretty much entirely down to personal preference – no one’s forcing you to drive in a certain way, which is another welcome change.

There are only a handful of power-ups – eight, to be exact – but they’re brilliantly balanced, so none are too powerful and end up dominating. Thankfully, because of this, the game manages to reduce what I like to call “the Mario Kart effect*”. That’s not to say to it doesn’t happen at all, but it’s quite rare, which is unusual for this sort of game.

The game originally got my attention when I noticed the multiplayer beta (or “demo” as we used to call them) was available for download. I’d heard about it a bit, but as a new franchise in a genre I didn’t really pay much attention to, I wasn’t particularly interested. I gave the beta a go anyway though, and ended up loving it. Now, I don’t play games online very much, but it worked really well – in no small part down to the previously mentioned power-up balancing – it was fun, it was challenging, and, most importantly, it was very rarely frustrating. In a shock turn of events, the multiplayer mode on the finished game is somewhat similar to the beta (read: exactly the same) i.e. very good.

I feel a bit guilty about not actually buying the game now, since, sadly, Bizarre Creations are no more; Had I bought it, I could have talked down to anyone who didn’t buy it when they expressed how sad they were at the demise of a great English game studio, and isn’t that the important thing?

In summary, my first impressions of Blur were that it was very good and a lot of fun, and not much changed. There were a few occasions where I got bored quite quickly, but there were many more where it got under my skin and I couldn’t turn it off for hours. It’s brilliance is often in it’s simplicity; it doesn’t have the biggest list of features or game modes for this type of game, but it does everything very well, while looking absolutely beautiful.

Don’t feel guilty about not buying it based on this review though, it’s too late. Bizarre Creations are gone for good, and it’s all your fault. You make me sick.

* If it isn’t already an established phenomena, it should be. The Mario Kart effect is when you get every car on the game attacking you at once, or when you lead the race by a comfortable margin and end up finishing last because every car on the game attacks you at once. It causes screaming. Screaming and anger.

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