mercurius's Blur (PlayStation 3) review

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An easy way to describe Blur would be to call it a simple homage to Mario Kart; while that is an apt description, the essence of Blur is much more. Scattered around each track are an array of differing power-ups (of which there are about eight), such as Nitro, which gives you a short burst of speed, and Bolt, which contains a set of three pink lightning bolts that can be shot at other cars. Power-ups can be shot backwards, and even negate the effect of others if they collide. The game also includes races with up to twenty cars, which make for a frantic experience, with power-ups whizzing past you and hitting other cars up into the air. Akin to many other racing games, the singleplayer of Blur is segmented by different racers, whose races must be completed to move on down the line, and to the next racer. However, in Blur, to unlock cars, you must accumulate a certain amount of “fans,” which you get for doing almost anything during a race, such as obtaining first place, hitting other cars with power-ups, et cetera.

Barge power-up
Barge power-up


Blur contains three main types of races: Race, Checkpoint, and Destruction. Race is exactly as it sounds: a simple race around the track with power-ups sprinkled here and there. Checkpoint is a race in which you are alone on the track, and must get to different checkpoints before time runs out. Along the track are Nitro power-ups, and stopwatches, which increase your time remaining by a few seconds. In Destruction, the only power-up on the track is Bolt. The object of destruction is to gain seconds onto your time by wrecking opponents with bolts, while getting wrecked yourself will end the race.

On top of each race, Bizarre Creations has incorporated special things you can attempt during each race to gain more fans. Both are activated by driving through specific markers on the tracks. The first, called “Fan Runs,” are a series of rings that, if you drive through them all in the allotted time, grant you a couple hundred more fans. The second, called “Fan Demands,” are essentially mini challenges involving power-ups, such as “Reach 175 mph with Nitro” or “Drift Bolt Hit,” et cetera. While there is only one Fan Run per track, there are about three Fan Demands per race. I found these added a lot to the races, and give you something fun to do at every turn.

Each race in Blur has seven “lights” to be obtained, and although all of them are not needed to advance down the singleplayer, if you want to get them all, they should lengthen how long you play it by quite a bit. The first five lights are related to how well you do in the respective race, the sixth is a Fan Target - a set amount of fans to accumulate during the race, and the final is obtained by completing the specific race’s Fan Run.
Bolt power-up
Bolt power-up

As I said above, the singleplayer is separated by a set of nine racers, who each have a set of races. However, apart from that, each racer has a set of “demands” for you to complete, after which you’ll be able to face them one-on-one and win their car for use, and a mod for your loadout that will improve certain power-ups. For example, Shannon’s (the first racer) demands are to:

> Land 80 offensive Power-ups
> Earn 7,000 Fans
> Finish 4 Events in 4 different cars
> Pass 5 events.

As I neared the later half of the singleplayer, I noticed myself having to attempt each race multiple times to get all seven lights on it. As the opponent A.I. got tougher, it became harder for me to complete the Fan Run, and get enough fans for the Fan Target whilst still trying to stay in front of nineteen other drivers. I would have to, on the first time, simply ignore the offensive power-ups and win the race, while focusing on the Fan Run, et cetera on consecutive attempts. Eventually, though, towards the end, I would only do the bare minimum for each race to progress to the next.

Graphically, Blur is very good looking. Particularly the lighting, which is very stylized, and looks like an amalgamation of neon with a very gritty overlay, which is very apparent when looking at the lens flare-esque effect used on the lights on the cars, to the explosions of red and black during some power-up effects. Overall, a very crisp looking game.
 Fantastic lighting
 Fantastic lighting

Sound-wise, Blur is fantastic. The sound effects for the different power-ups are incredible, and sound like they were pulled directly from a high-budget science fiction film. I especially love the little things here and there, like the softening of the sounds around you while you have a shield activated, to the fantastic sound of a bolt flying past you. The collision sounds are also great, and include nice attentions to detail such as the sound of headlights falling apart when you smash the side of your car into the wall. The game also features an electronic sounding soundtrack, that goes very well with the overall graphical and stylistic feel of the game.

Now, while Blur’s singleplayer is nice, and is fun to play for a few plus hours, the main thing people will come back to Blur for is its multiplayer. Blur contains an extensive multiplayer, with a collection of nine different multiplayer modes, ranging from a Hardcore variant, to a Skirmish. On top of that, to keep people playing, Bizarre Creations have implemented an enormous challenge system, for both using each car, all the different power-ups, and many other things. As you progress in levels, you also unlock different mods, which do things such as making you deal more damage in collisions, to increasing the strength of your offensive power-ups, et cetera. These can be combined in any way into a loadout of three different mods, or you can decide on an pre-made loadouts, based on a certain person’s play style.

I found multiplayer to be very enjoyable, as I didn’t have to focus on Fan Demands, or Fan Runs, and I could focus on getting the right power-ups and winning the race. There’s an immense amount of fun to be had with Blur’s power-ups; for instance, seeing the player ahead of you get Bolts, so you find yourself driving in an S shape to dodge them, because you know he’s going to shoot them backwards at you, or seeing a Shunt homing in on you from behind, and having to deploy another power-up to collide with it and negate it. This is especially apparent in full twenty player races, which are a flurry of chaos.

Overall, if I had to describe Blur in one word, it would be fast. Everything about Blur seems to have been designed to be very streamlined, and to keep you going without stopping; from the menu, to how each race starts before the starting line with each car already moving, to the fact that if you run into something and your car stops, you will reset automatically. Blur is a fun arcade game, and fans of many different genres should be able to have a good time with it.

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