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Score: 81%
ESRB: Everyone 10+
Publisher: Activision
Developer: Bizarre Creations
Media: DVD/1
Players: 1, 2 - 20
Genre: Racing/ Racing (Kart)

Graphics & Sound:

In the gaming world, it is becoming increasingly common for games to cross the traditional boundaries in which they have so long existed. This not only affects games that jump genres, but also games that meld sub-genres. Enter Blur, the recently released racing title from Bizarre Creations. Blur is two parts Forza and three parts Mario Kart, blurring (if you'll excuse the pun) the lines between a serious racing simulation and an arcady racing platform.

Graphically, Blur is quite nice. The 55 licensed cars look outstanding and damage modeling is well handled during races. The illusion of speed, which all racing games strive for, but which few seldom achieve, is nicely expressed, giving the player that little adrenaline rush when the pedal is on the floor and an extra burst of nitro hits the fuel stream. Lighting and elemental effects, especially those associated with the various boosts, are also beautifully rendered. The environments through which the races take place are a little lackluster, but this is easy overlooked when assessing the overall offering. Unfortunately, the audio aspects of Blur do not quite live up to their graphical brethren. The sounds of the cars are passable, but generic. The music soundtrack, which should be rocking for this type of game, is uninspired at best. Even the use of the boosts is missing the extra "oomph" players will likely expect.


Blur is, first and foremost, a racing game. The idea is to race drivers in other cars, either in Single Player Mode or against live opponents via Online Competitive and Team racing, speeding around various tracks in an effort to be the first to cross the finish line. The tracks, of which there are more than 30, are set in various real-world cities, adding a glimpse of identifiable landmarks (for those drivers bored enough to take in the sights). Do not be fooled by the glossy exteriors however, for under the covers of realism lurk the arcady aspects upon which Blur is rooted. For players familiar with the Mario Kart concept, actual gameplay will seem familiar. Unlike standard simulation racing games, skill only counts for so much. Scattered around the tracks are various power-ups that can be picked up by the passing over them. These power-ups offer the driver various beneficial effects, such as dropping mines, repairing damage, shields and nitro boosts. Proper use of this arsenal of gadgetry is essential for those wanting to finish ahead of the pack.


Many racing games are known to have brutal learning curves, as handling, physics and new tracks all require some amount of test runs before a feel for the game can be developed. Blur ratchets this up a notch, because while the player is learning how to drift around the corners or what amount of pressure equates proper feathering of the gas and brake pedals, enemy drivers are constantly barraging the player with a litany of offensive weapons; a true trial-by-fire as it were. However, as with most games, the learning curve only lasts so long and players will quickly become familiar with the cars, tracks and various weapons at their disposal. Once this state of nirvana is achieved, the real challenge begins. In discussing the Single Player campaign, one of the biggest issues with Blur is the Artificial Intelligence (A.I.). On the Easy setting, winning the races will come without much challenge to most players. Moving up to Medium causes an abrupt transformation; where before the A.I. was lazy and stupid, now it is brutal and efficient in its use of power-ups and sees a drastic improvement to its driving skills. This lack of a middle ground will certainly frustrate many players.

In Multiplayer Mode, the challenges are a bit different. As skilled as a driver may be, one must never forget that skill behind the wheel will only take you so far in Blur. The ever-present threat of a timely Shock or Bolt or the randomly dropped mine in the road can ruin the leader's day in a hurry. It is not always the power-ups that cause the chaos though. In the larger races (20 drivers), expect a huge jam-up at the start and any time that there are a significant number of cars attempting to make a tight turn. Of course, if the player happens to have a Barge power-up, then a simple push of the button will clear a path in a hurry. Just don't get upset when it happens to you (because it will).

Game Mechanics:

Driving the cars in Blur is a pretty easy affair, even for the die-hard mouse and keyboard player. Accelerating and braking are handled with the "Q" and "A" keys respectively, while steering is controlled by the arrow keys. Learning to cycle through the available power-ups and how to fire them forward or backwards will take a little time to learn, but it quickly becomes fairly easy to deal with. In an interesting twist to the game, players earn experience (in the form of fans) through various activities in the game. Finishing a race highly placed, avoiding an enemy attack and successfully landing an attack on an enemy are all examples of ways to earn more fans. Earning fans opens up new cars, new modifications and new areas to race. For those drivers that like experience grinding or tackling all of the various challenges a game has to offer, Blur certainly will not disappoint. That being said, the Single Player Mode becomes a bit repetitive after a short time, either being too easy or hard depending on the difficulty setting chosen. The Multiplayer Mode offers a bit more incentive for long-term play, with online competition alleviating some of the monotony that the Single Player campaign suffers from.

At the end of the race, Blur is an interesting melding of racing game paradigms. It is pretty and stylish while holding on to a bit of arcady flash and offers a lot of collection activities as well as some great Multiplayer action for those that enjoy competing across the internet. It is probably not a game that will see sustained playtime by a large group of players, but it is certainly a good distraction from time to time.

-The Mung Bard, GameVortex Communications
AKA Buddy Ethridge

Minimum System Requirements:

OS: Windows XP, Vista or 7, Processor: Intel Pentium D Dual Core 3.4 Ghz or AMD Athlon 64X2 3800+, Memory: 1.0 GB RAM for XP, 2.0 GB RAM for Vista or Windows 7, Video Card: 256 MB NVIDIA GeForce 6600GT or ATI Radeon 1600XT with Shader 3.0 capabilities

Test System:

OS: XP, Processor: Intel Core 2 Duo CPU 3.06 GHz, Memory: 2.0 GB of RAM, Video Card: NVIDIA GeForce 8800 GTS 512

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