The racing pedigree in Blur is apparent, and the indomitable DNA of the Project Gotham Racing series is unmistakable.Blur is the swansong for developer Bizarre Creations. Formerly a Xbox-exclusive developer, Blur is Bizarre Creations first multiplatform racer under publisher Activision. Though they went on to develop a tepid James Bond game before their untimely closure, Bizarre Creations was able to cement their racing legacy with one last gem. The racing pedigree in Blur is apparent, and the indomitable DNA of the Project Gotham Racing series is unmistakable. The slick user interface, the superb audio design, the arcadey, yet demanding vehicle handling, are all key facets to Bizarre Creations’ signature titles, and Blur is no different.
Blur is a different beast than most driving games, combining Mario Kart-style attack and defense power-ups, with sophisticated driving mechanics and a selection of real-world vehicles. Pairing weighty, unforgiving driving physics with the bedlam of heat-seeking rockets, laser bolts, and EMP blasts is infectiously fun, both solo or online.
The vehicles, which range from heavy off-roaders to lithe Japanese imports, all handle differently. It takes time to not only learn the driving mechanics, but to find out what vehicles suit each particular tracks and challenges. Through the career (or multiplayer) you unlock modifications that give you prolonged of invulnerability, or extra laser bolts. These earned modifications can be equipped on any vehicle pre-race. Most of your strategy comes into play during races, as powerups are clearly designated, as opposed to being purely random. You can plan your route around nabbing a health power-up your second lap, and in final lap, go for the nearby lighting storm powerup to clinch the win.
The track selection is a dazzling selection of international circuits. Though no real-world tracks are present, the globetrotting events take you to locations like Tokyo, San Francisco, Barcelona, Brighton Beach, New York, and LA. You’ll weave through the Hollywood Hills, catch air on the hills of San Francisco, and devastate your competitors under the neon glow of downtown Tokyo.
Blur eschews the genre-standard supercars for a selection of highly charismatic turbo-charged clunkers.The vehicle selection is also distinct for the racing genre, as Blur eschews the genre-standard Ferraris, Lamborghinis, and Porches for a selection of highly charismatic turbo-charged clunkers, supercars, and other oddballs. There are Mustangs, Chargers, and Challengers aplenty, both old and new models. European hot-hatches from Renault, Audi, and VW are also well represented. Even trucks and SUVs, like Land Rovers, Ford F-100s, and Bowler Nemesis are hulking fun. The highlight of the top-tier A-class of vehicles is, arguably, not the Audi R8, the Mustang GT-R concept or the vintage Camaro C3 drag racer, but the feisty, hyper-fast Ford Transit Supervan. Old beaters and modern-day sports cars, alike, are fun to drive and bang around in Blur.
Blur is a difficult game, perhaps one of the more difficult racing games to grace consoles. Although all vehicles are automatic transmission, balancing car combat in addition to the deceptively deep driving mechanics makes for a challenge, even for experienced gear-heads. Luckily, Blur rewards you for everything, as you gain fans (read: experience points) that unlock events and vehicles. Winning races, losing races, and wrecking rival racers will net you fans regardless, which definitely helps ease the relentless challenges in Blur.
Similar to Bizarre Creation’s Project Gotham series, the audio design in Blur is stellar.Similar to Bizarre Creation’s Project Gotham series, the audio design in Blur is stellar. A licensed soundtrack mostly features drum and bass, and house tunes from the likes of The Qemists, The Herbaliser, Two Fingers (for Amon Tobin fans), and Cold Cut. It’s refreshing to see Blur have such a strong commitment to the awesome Ninja Tunes record label, whose thumping beats do a great job in escalating the excitement during already-hectic races.
The car engine sounds are all distinct, from the junkers sputtering in their old age, to the high revving whir of modern day performance tuners. Another subtle addition to Blur’s superior audio design is that powerups produce cool distortions or audio stutters that affect the soundtrack in neat ways. Driving through an enemy’s lighting storm will mess with the music’s equalizer levels, while being hit with a rocket shot will cause the song to distort and crackle.
Blur is a memorable racer that pairs a fantastic arcade-style driving engine—which is plenty fun and nuanced on its own—with deep car combat mechanics. Battling real cars and trucks with a range of offensive and defensive weapons is as fun as it sounds. Bizarre Creations delivers another compelling racing title certainly deserves a permanent spot in your gaming library.