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Score: 86%
ESRB: Everyone 10+
Publisher: Activision
Developer: Bizarre Creations
Media: DVD/1
Players: 1 - 4; 2 - 20 (Online)
Genre: Racing (Kart)/ Arcade/ Online

Graphics & Sound:

I've always wanted to play a game like Blur. I've always wanted to see a game that took the kart racing genre and made it into something hardcore and competitive. Blur does exactly that, and on that merit alone, it's at least worth a look.

You're not going to find the superlative visuals of DiRT 2, Forza Motorsport 3, or Split/Second here. Blur isn't the most beautiful racer out there, but the neon aesthetic makes up for that in several ways. It almost looks borrowed from another Bizarre Creation, Geometry Wars. Power-ups light up and send shockwaves along each track, and every bit of smoldering residue will have you second-guessing your own judgment.

Blur's sound design is on the scant side. There's simply not much content here. What's here is good, however. When you're going fast, it sounds like you're going fast. The wind whips at your ears and drowns most everything out, especially when you're using Nitro. The approach to the music is minimalist from nearly every perspective, but the subtle use of a few licensed tracks gives it a bit of an edge.


Blur is Project Gotham Racing meets Mario Kart. You choose from a number of real-life vehicles and race in one of several real-life cities. During the race, you can pick up and use power-ups. These pick-ups allow you to either attack other racers or simply defend yourself. Racing skill certainly helps, but strategizing with power-ups is really the only way to get the gold.

Blur's single player Career Mode has you on a mission to take down nine rivals. By ranking high and passing through a series of lighted gates, you will earn Lights, which unlock new events. By driving aggressively and stylishly, you will earn Fans, which unlock new cars and mods.

When Blur shifts the focus away from the actual racing, things suffer a little bit. The other events aren't bad, by any means; they simply can't measure up to the racing. You'll find these other events in the single player Career Mode, and they are more objective-based. For example, Destruction strips away the use of all power-ups with the sole exception of Bolt. The object is to destroy as many vehicles as you can before time runs out. Checkpoint plays out like a game of OutRun. It's you against the clock; Nitro power-ups and time bonuses are your friends. Use them well.

Blur's online multiplayer component is the best part of the entire experience... by a long shot. Picture Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare's robust persistence system layered on top of Blur's core gameplay, and you'll have a good idea of what Bizarre Creations has cooked up. Being constantly rewarded for every little thing you do gives every game that addictive quality, and Blur is certainly no exception to the rule.

There are eight online multiplayer modes, and most of them involve racing with power-ups. Powered-up Racing is currently the most popular of the modes; it's the standard twenty-player race. Motor Mash is there for those who want to wax nostalgic about Mario Kart's Battle Mode. You can also play Hardcore Racing, which turns power-ups off. Most of these modes also offer a team variant, as well.


Blur has a two-sided difficulty level; the online side is simply "Hard." The offline side is "OMGWTFBBQ." The rubber band system smarts (especially towards the end), but I don't find it as punishing or as inescapable as the one in Split/Second. Overall though, I would argue that the game does not suffer from Blue Shell Syndrome. Players who perform poorly will remain at the end of the pack until they learn to race and fight more skillfully. Power-ups are not selected at random; each one has a special color and icon. If you want it, you must get it yourself. All of this makes the game quite challenging, and it makes the thrill of victory that much sweeter.

Cutting right to the chase, Blur's A.I. is difficult, to say the very least. The action on the track is always chaotic and unpredictable. Online, things are different. By "different," I mean "well-balanced." Luck factors into each race, but not quite enough to the point where absolutely anyone can win.

Game Mechanics:

One of Blur's greatest strengths lies in its treatment of power-ups. There are eight of these, and each of them serves at least one vital purpose. Some of them are self-explanatory: Mine, Shield, Nitro, and Repair do exactly what you would expect them to do. Barge unleashes a localized shockwave on whoever is in close proximity to your vehicle. Shunt is the homing "Red Shell" power-up. Bolt is a three-shot weapon that destablizes and slows down vehicles. Shock is essentially Blur's version of the infamous Blue Shell, but unlike the Mario Kart power-up, it doesn't break the difficulty level. Shock sends three pools of lightning near the leader of the pack. They are fairly easy to avoid, but they slow down anyone unfortunate enough to drive through them.

Blur's power-ups are well-designed and balanced. First off, all of the offensive power-ups (save for the Barge, for obvious reasons) can be fired backwards. The rear-view mirror at the top of the screen does a fantastic job of letting you know when someone's in your rear line of fire. Power-ups also have interesting defensive applications. If you see a Shunt barreling towards your vehicle, deploy a Mine behind it. No Mine? No problem. Shunts, Bolts, Barges, and Shields work just fine too. You can also outrun most power-ups with Nitro. When you're playing defensively, it's important to get the timing right.

As I mentioned earlier, power-ups are not randomized. Furthermore, their locations on the track never change. You'll be able to identify each of them well before you actually reach them. This adds yet another layer of strategy to the gameplay.

Mod loadouts make the multiplayer experience even deeper. You can equip mods that give your cars special abilities. For example, Adaptive Shielding allows your Shield to convert an absorbed enemy power-up into a power-up of your own. Some mods affect how much damage you take from certain attacks, while others make certain attacks easier to avoid. And, of course, what Dodge Viper would be complete without a laser sight?

Bizarre Creations has found a way to integrate social networking into Blur. You can share your accomplishments via Facebook and Twitter if you want. If you pull off something spectacular, you can dare your friends to beat you at your own game with Friend Challenges. I don't see many people actually getting into this stuff, but it's there for anyone who's interested.

Blur is a balls-to-the-wall experience that will absolutely please online competitive gamers. It fills a void that has existed in the kart racing space for far too long. However, it doesn't offer quite enough for the offline crowd. I hope Bizarre Creations learns from its mistakes and delivers a more well-rounded package the next time around, but this is still a very good start.

-FenixDown, GameVortex Communications
AKA Jon Carlos

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