Despite the lack of originality, though, the game still does well to keep things interesting. I just spoke about weapons and power-ups, but I didn’t mention that you could hold up to three at a time, which in itself also keeps things interesting and forces you to have some sort of strategy… one that undoubtedly will change on a regular basis.
For event-types, there are three in total. The most common is a straight-out race, so there’s not much that can be said there. Another is called Destruction, where it’s only you and countless opponents ahead on the road. The goal is to collect Bolt icons on the track and shoot them at cars ahead of you. Each kill adds seconds to the timer, and fans to your total. Once your timer runs out, the event ends.
Checkpoint is the third and final event type (not counting one-on-one) and it’s the most straight-forward of them all. This event is also on a timer, and to keep it from running out, you must pick up timer icons along the track, and use Nitro’s as often, and as effectively as possible. It’s a simple, and again non-original, premise, but still very challenging at times.
Progressing through most any game that lacks a reward system isn’t much fun, so with Blur, as you gain fans, increase your light count, and also meet certain demands, you’ll unlock new events, cars and power-up mods (you can’t customize your car). You also complete “Stickers” (think Trophies or Achievements) by completing certain tasks, although I’m not sure if there’s a point rather than to appease the completist.
Though the single-player campaign has a good level of depth, or rather, content to explore, a game like this wouldn’t be complete without an online aspect. There’s one full-force here, and in some regards, it’s even more fun than the offline campaign. Both modes have something in common… there are achievements to reach and cars /power-up mods to unlock. Don’t think you can go racing anywhere online just by logging in, either. Like the offline campaign, you’ll need to level up to unlock the later levels and cars.
I only spent about two hours online with Blur so far, but in that time, I enjoyed it. The lag was minimal for the most part, and the races even more intense than in the career mode on Easy or Medium. I even enjoy the ability to work towards unlocking items and other things, since it gives goals and something to do.
One thing that did concern me though was the number of players that were found online anytime I checked. On the weekend, it’s not unusual to see 150 – 200, but during the week, those numbers halve. While right now it’s not difficult to level up and accomplish what you need to, if the online numbers are like that mere weeks after the game’s launch, then it’s a little disheartening. I’m sure that the console versions have far more players online than the PC version, and it’s unfortunate because there’s a ton of potential here.
This minor niggle even stood out to me in offline mode. I decided to check out the leaderboards feature as I was writing this review, and I noticed that for the last level of the game, I somehow ranked 14 in the world… out of 666. The latter number represents the total number of players who signed up with an in-game account and beat the final stage. As most people would create these accounts, the actual number of PC gamers to complete the game fully is low, so it became clear why few seem to be online at any given time. For interest’s sake, the total number of entries for the first level is close to 9,000.
Aside from all that, there is one thing Blur does right that many racing games do not… LAN play. Even further, for those with huge displays, you can even do a split-screen mode for up to four players. Seriously. How often do you see support like that in a game?
To help wrap things up, I’ll quickly tackle a couple of other minute details I haven’t up to now. First and foremost, the control and overall gameplay is quite fluid and fun. Cars react as you’d expect them to (on a per model basis) and engine sounds realistically reflect their real-world counterparts. Sound effects are good, but not great. Although, I do admit I love the distorted slow-time sound when getting barged by someone.
The graphics are not top-rate as far as PC games go, and this is technically a console port, but unless you’re truly fussy, you’ll like all the eye candy that Blur offers. I’m not sure of the number of cars available, but all are real, and sometimes modded out with after-market kits. The top Grade D car for example is a Foose Design Stallion Ford Mustang, and course, no racing title would be complete without a Shelby GT500. There are still many “normal” cars to be had as well though, with Chevrolet’s, BMW’s, Ford’s and even an old-school Volkswagon Beetle. Overall, car selection isn’t unparalleled, but it’s a lot better than I expected it to be.
One area where I feel the game excels is with its music. It’s a mix of electronic and drum-and-bass, with an absolute lack of vocals. I admit that most times, vocals are fine, but for me, nothing beats just straight-out adreniline-pumping electronic music for racing. If you want a sample of what’s here, look no further than Starting Line, by The Chemical Brothers. Blur’s menu screen music begins at the 0:16s of that video. For a full sampling, an ambitious YouTube user uploaded the entire track list. Note that some tracks there do feature vocals, but I don’t remember ever hearing them in-game.
There’s not much to be said about Blur that hasn’t been said already, but there is just one more tidbit I have to “drive” home. This game is hard. Not at first, but as you progress, there will come some challenges that are just mind-blowing. I am saying this from the experience of playing most of the game on “Medium”. “Easy” seems to be a easier – actually, a lot easier – while “Hard” is of course, well, hard, and sometimes seemingly impossible. But while that’s the case, there is at least the option to throttle the difficulty down, which is nice.
Blur is far from being one of the best racing games I’ve ever played, but it has certainly provided me a lot of enjoyment up to this point, and it’s a well-designed package overall. It’s not without faults, but it’s still one that should be considered, especially if you enjoy games that can at times keep you at the edge of your seat. I said “up to this point” a moment ago because I don’t plan on turning the game off for a while, despite already beating it. That should say something.
As always, you can flip to the next page to see a random selection of other screenshots from the game.
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