Let’s face it, we have all been intrigued by the thought of an adult Mario Kart, right? I can’t be the only one dreaming about racing down my friends with something more powerful than a red turtle shell. For many gamers, especially those in their twenties and thirties, Mario Kart was nothing short of multiplayer bliss. And a gamer that fits such a profile should be welcoming Blur with open arms.
Bizarre Creations has made an attempt to provide gamers with an addictive racer that feeds off one of our favorite pastimes. However, within one week, we have received three racing games: Modnation Racers, Split/Second, and now Blur. Each game offers a different type of racer, but Blur holds its own despite some shortcomings.
Blur, put simply, is a power-up arcade racer. Each power-up provides both offensive and defensive uses. Take the Barge power-up, for example: in a pack of cars it provides a close-range radial attack that blasts nearby vehicles away from you. However, should a Shunt (powerful homing missile) be on your tail, a Barge can act as a defensive blast causing it to blow up prior to hitting you.
Utilizing each of these power-ups, in a plethora of different situations in each race, is what provides an immense amount of strategy and, most importantly, an overwhelming amount of fun. Simple yet addictive are two qualities that help make great games. Then again, they are also qualities that can get old faster than most would like.
When first starting up Blur, one can’t help but notice the absolutely fantastic presentation. From the menus, to Facebook and Twitter integration, to the recap of progress made during the previous playthrough, Blur is easily one of the most enjoyable experiences off the race track. However, it is the thrill of the ride on the racetrack that is most important.
Blur provides both an online/local multiplayer experience as well as a single-player campaign. As you may expect, the single-player campaign is a series of races and challenges. Blur sets out to ease players into understanding the ins and outs of the game and succeeds in just the right amount of time – thus allowing players to jump right in and enjoy the fun immediately. And with 63 events and nine bosses to overcome, the fun is designed to last.
Of these 63 events, three unique event types are reused throughout the campaign: racing, destruction, and checkpoint. Racing requires a top three finish against 19 other racers with eight power-ups scattered throughout the racetrack. Destruction thrives on one of the most enjoyable parts of Blur – wrecks – as you set out to destroy as many racers as you can before time runs out. Finally, checkpoint is a race against time as you fight to make it to each checkpoint before time runs out, grabbing every nitro and time increase power-up along the way.
While each of these event types are addictive and fun, the fire goes out rather quickly. Simple yet addictive, as mentioned previously, has its downfalls. Blur is best played in chunks, but will most certainly keep you coming back for more – even with the overflow of great games this quarter. Let’s be honest though, this is the same for any Mario Kart game. While it shouldn’t be excused and may be a disappointment for some, replayability over the long-term still remains intact.
As much as Blur is addictive though, it can also be frustratingly difficult. Most racing games, in order to reduce difficulty, rely on rubber-band AI. However, Blur does not rely on such cheap tricks and instead concentrates on the balance of power-ups. In turn, challenges in the campaign can get increasingly frustrating when you are just out of reach of the top three, or struggling to beat a friend’s high score.
The addiction is first sparked by overcoming this difficulty, quickly followed by exploring the immense amount of new car unlocks and mods. Just like Modern Warfare 2‘s multiplayer, Blur is capable of the same “just one more” element through unlocks and loadouts, which are called mods. With these unlocks, the cars and mods at your disposal create another element of strategy, as choosing one’s mods can help improve leveling or even create an offense or defensive loadout by improving the effects of power-ups, offensively or defensively.
If that isn’t your source of addiction, it will most certainly lie in the friendly challenges. The completion of any challenge in single-player allow you to create a challenge that can then be sent out to friends. And in order to create the same feeling of competition in games such as Geometry Wars 2, friends’ high scores will taunt you every time you boot up the game.
Taking that challenge online is just as difficult and just as rewarding. However, throwing a player into a multiplayer race of 20 people with power-ups, health, and some difficult drifting is quite overwhelming. In all honesty, multiplayer online can be at times a bit too much chaos, as managing three power-ups, 19 other racers, preventing depletion of health (aka wrecking) through Repair power-ups, and trying to perfect those intense turns with some difficult drifting are more than enough for one to handle.
Despite its difficulties and overwhelming game mechanics, Blur successfully blends a realistic arcade racer with what has made Mario Kart so successful. The intense moments and fantastic feelings of achievement that bleed through in almost every race make Blur an easy recommendation for those who are willing to put in the time and accept to learn from defeat. Of the three racing games recently released, Blur is where most of my time on the racetrack will be spent.
I haven't been this impressed with presentation in a game since NCAA Basketball 10. Menus, Twitter and Facebook integration, friend challenge system, etc make Blur a pleasure to play. Graphics are not as impressive as Split/Second but are more than enough to enjoy.
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Project Gotham Racing meets Mario Kart is pulled off with a great amount of balance, challenge, and intensity. At times, though, the challenge can be a bit frustrating. But remember, bumping down to easy isn't always a bad thing.
The music isn't anything that improves the experience, and the power-ups aren't anything special, but the sound is more than enough to make you feel like you are behind the wheel and surrounded by absolute chaos and intensity at all times.
The sources of addiction are most certainly there and will keep you coming back for more. It is the frustrating losses and chaotic multiplayer that will prevent marathons of Blur.
Blur is a great power-up racer that is at times held back by difficult game mechanics. But ultimately, it is an addictive, exhilarating experience that will keep that carrot on a stick at an unreachable distance for a long time.