Over the past year, Activision has sent us enough video about Blur that we probably could have made a pretty exciting movie out of it. Each video seemed exciting, badass and something we should feel cool about playing.
Sometimes videos lie about such things.
These didn't prepare us enough for such things.
Blur reminds me a lot of the Dreamcast game Speed Devils. It doesn't go to the serious extent of a Gran Turismo, but it's serious enough to be fun.
The game revolves around races on exotic tracks that feature varies spots of power-ups. These power-ups include:
Shock - three well place electric spots on the track that will debilitate a vehicle causing it to slow down. Not my favorite of the bunch, but still useful. The problem with the shock is that it's unpredictable where it's going to end up and if it's even yours. The power-ups regenerate so quickly on the track that the person behind you might have had their shock off faster. Out of all the power-ups this is my least favorite and I feel doesn't provide an advantage.
Shunt - Probably the nastiest of the power-ups, this will cause your targeted car to explode into the air. It's like a homing missile that only is detoured if you swerve in front of someone (the poor bastard behind you gets the brunt) or if you quickly ram a wall and it explodes into the wall. Otherwise, this sucker could ruin your driving day really quick. By far my favorite.
Barge - One of the more cooler power-ups, the barge will push all cars out of your way that reside in a particular diameter of your car. So if you're in a pack of cars and you want to hurt them and disrupt them then you let this power-up go off and it will push a car out of your way. It's also versatile, as you can use it to block shunts or push down on the left analog stick to cause your vehicle to stop in its tracks (great for curves). This is one of my favorites as well, right behind the shunt.
Mine - In the vain of Mario Kart and ModNation Racers, the mine is what it is.... a mine. Online a-holes tend to lay the mine right behind the mine icon on the track, which is just an a-hole thing to do. You can also press up on the left analog stick to send the mine shooting in front of you, which is sort of like a shunt. It requires good aiming ability and it does a neat thing; if you don't hit your target it sticks to the track like a mine (shocker).
Bolt - The bolt is simply an annoyance to other drivers. You get three shots of 'bolt' when you acquire the icon and you can use it to disrupt the path of a vehicle; even slow it down a bit. If you hit one vehicle three consecutive times with the bolt power-up then the vehicle is temporarily debilitated. It's a great power-up to ruin someone's day quick, but it can be a waste of time if you're lagging behind the pack. It's basically like a shotgun in every action game that features one; it's best used up close and personal.
Nitro - The nitro is just what it is, a nitro. It speeds up your car for about 2-3 seconds and then that's it. It is possible to do a nitro ram into another car, but you won't use it much for that. I think it's more exciting than the shock, but not by much.
Shield - Pick plenty of these bad boys up on your way through a race. The shield provides you with a temporary relief from any attack. It's great to use when you're being chased by a shunt and even better when you want someone to waste their power-ups.
Repair - You're only given a certain amount of health for your vehicle and it's easy to lose that health, especially online. There is a repair power-up that resets your health back to normal. Always have one handy if you can.
The power-ups are what make this game special. They were the big seller for Bizarre Creations and they work well. They add a new dimension to gameplay for racing and they add a new element of 'screw you!' when it comes to online racing. In short, they are everything Bizarre Creations and Activision promised they would be.
They make racing outrageously fun in Blur. You get to find different ways and different methods/strategies to take down the cars in front of you. They also provide another chance for players that don't live their life in a racecar to win in the game. For example, I ruined a guy's chance at second place online by unleashing three shunts at him right before he crossed the finish line. It was wonderful as he went flying in the air multiple times and I was gaining points as he went. Obsidian_SteveJ thank you for allowing me to abuse you over and over again.
Speaking of points....
The single player game features real cars/trucks and gives you the option to 'mod' them to make them perform to the best of their ability. From Range Rovers to beat up Bugs, you'll find a variety of cars to modify to make them fast and furious (oh, look at that unintentional quip). Each mod can be obtained by obtaining Fan points and lights.
The fan points come from two places: Fan Demands and Fan Runs.
The fan demands, which are scattered in different places on the track, require you to perform a given, specific feat in a short amount of time to please fans. The faster you perform it, the more fan points you obtain. For example, you might run into a fan demands icon on the track that requires you to perform a long-range 'bolt' shot. If you succeed quickly then you get a maximum amount of fan points. If you take too long then the points decrease. If you fail completely then you get no points, but you do get another shot when you go around the track again.
The fan runs require you to go through a series of glowing gates as you speed along the track. If you successfully go through each gate then you get a shiat load of points. If you miss one gate then you lose all of them. It seems tough, but it just takes full concentration.
As for the lights, you can obtain lights by winning races, challenges and one-on-one races with bosses. As you win races, the lights vary depending on your placement; 5 lights = first place, 4 lights = second place, 3 lights = third place. The combination of lights and fan points brings you more levels, more cars and more abilities to mod. The entire points/lights system is rewarding, encouraging and most of all addictive.
Shifting gears (ha, I'm on a roll), the game offers different types of racing. You can do your standard racing, which puts you against other cars. You can race to cause destruction, which allows you to fire the 'bolt' at various vehicles to score a certain amount of points that equal a certain amount of lights. You can do a timed racing event that requires you to get to certain areas of a racetrack in a certain amount of time (with the help of extra time power-ups and nitro power-ups). You also run into one-on-one racing, which can be considered a 'boss' battle if you will.
To unlock the one-on-one racing you have to complete certain amount of goals in the particular racing league that you're in. For example, in the third round you're asked to complete four fan demands. It doesn't matter if you do it through different races within that round; just as long as you do it. This provides yet another element of depth to an already deep game. All of this seems to grow and grow as the game progresses, which makes the game positively addicting.
This is the only game that would keep me from Red Dead Redemption.
Now one of the best features of the game, one that I had a hard time stopping when it came to writing this review, is the online feature.
The online portion of this game is just as addictive as the single player. Granted, the bread and butter for this game had always been the online carnage that it seems to offer. While the mods don't come as fast, you still get a nice leveling up system with online play that unlocks cars and mods (and features/races) as you progress. The fan points are a bit less defined, but still intact. The importance of point gathering stems from the placement and racing achievements as you progress online. For example, if you complete the highest jump or block the most shunts during a game you're rewarded.
The game wants you to keep playing and begs you to between rounds. Hell, this is the first game that naturally assumes you want to keep playing as it automatically loads the next round for you. You can play up to 20 people at a time, but I haven't been able to yet. The most I played online is 10 and that was just a massive amount of carnage; I cannot imagine 20.
So is the game fun? God yes. The game is so simple that you can pick it up and go (you don't have to go through that 'press this button to move forward -- GREAT JOB!' crap that typical racing games put you through). The reward system and endless amount of cars and races will keep you interested for a very long time; and it causes some very high replay value, as you'll want to get better. The added bonus, and the reason you'll want to play, is the online feature. It's fast and fun and it just constantly moves forward.
So is it worth $59.99? It's worth $79.99, but only if it's on cartridge. The game will suck up your time and force you to spend at least 15 hours playing the single player mode while an undetermined amount of time playing online. There's so much depth to the game that you'll be in awe of it.
With all of this said, is there a flaw in the game? Outside of that one power-up issue, no not really. The game is addictive and it's fun. What more do you want?! I'm not going to find an issue with the game for the sake of finding an issue. It looks good, it plays good and there's so much variety that you can't argue about the depth. Sure it's simple when you're staring at it from far away, but it's really damn good up close.
You need this game.