As a game-obsessed lab, a spontaneous fist-pump would often accompany the conquest of a boss or the completion of a particularly challenging level. Over the years, as maturity and decorum grudgingly took hold, the energized gesture appeared to have vanished for good. Inexplicably, after a last minute sprint past the finish line in Blur, the animated hand-motion miraculously resurfaced – revived by the intensity of an enthusiastic upset.
In theory, the recent release from developer Bizarre Creations is a inspired concept, merging the munitions of a kart racer with the visual aesthetics and handling of a light simulation. Although recent attempts to merge racing genres have resulted in a product arguably best described by the game’s moniker, Blur is anything but unfocused. Like the developers past efforts with the Project Gotham Racing series (and its precursor Metropolis Street Racer), the title is absurdly polished, and worthy of a place in any arcade-racing enthusiast’s collection.
Beyond a masterful amalgamation of techniques, Blur‘s vehicular load-outs are one of the key contributors to the title’s success. Each of the five offensive power-ups offers a satisfying wallop – from the long-range impact of needler-esque bolts to the upending intensity of a homing shunt attack. Better still, when other racers strike the player the results rarely feel unfair; the attacks typically slow gamers down instead of punitively removing them from the competition. Additionally, a number of defensive tactics are available to players, ranging from the deployment of a shield to firing weaponry rearward to counteract an incoming strike. Since racers can carry three-power-ups (cleverly shown as translucent icons on your back bumper) many of Blur‘s competitions rarely contain an idle moment.
Yet weapon-fueled street skirmishes are only one element in Blur‘s arsenal. Checkpoint runs feature tracks littered with purposefully placed nitros and clock-pausing icons. Target contests limit the loadouts to bolts, offering valuable second for each downed opponent. Style is each mode rewards players with fans which are used to unlock new vehicles , while a podium finish bestows Lights- the game’s currency to unlock new stages. Overall, there’s plenty of racing embedded in the game’s nine challenge tiers – regrettably, about three-quarters through the Blur‘s excursion, players will encounter a choke point forcing them to replay stages to glean every last Light.
As robust as Blur‘s campaign mode is, the game’s multiplayer components are even more substantial. Four-player split-screen matches can become surprisingly lively thanks to the game’s efforts to preserve a solid framerate. Online competitions were refreshingly lag-free, despite hosting up to twenty racers lighting the screen up with armaments as they jockey for position. Nearly every race rewards participants with some type of perk, mod, or level promotion, ensuring players interest remains unwavering.
While some titles attempt to shoehorn a stylish graphical motif into their game in an effort to foster a distinctive personality, Blur‘s visuals rarely feel forced. Swirling streaks of neon permeate the game, seeping into every load screen and weapon discharge. Yet, the effect is remarkable restrained and rarely draws attention to itself. The game’s sound effects skillfully elevate each sputtering strike and thundering collision, while the game’s electronic soundtrack discreetly articulate the tempo of each competition.
Although Blur doesn’t have the spectacular destruction of Split/Second, nor the course creation of ModNation Racers, (or even a new Geometry Wars appendage) the title presents players with masterfully refined single and multiplayer elements. Players whom appreciate a driving title which cultivates controller clutching intensity owe it to themselves to give Blur a trial.