Before I started playing Blur, I was having mixed impressions. I had just finished playing Split Second and the demo of Modnation Racers, which each have their own unique feel and style (huge destruction, colorful kart racer) and from watching gameplay of Blur, nothing struck me as "must play". And after finishing my first race in Blur, I still had the same feeling. The game isn't very new and creative. Sure, Blur might be a hardcore mario kart, but is that we really want?
One thing I think Blur has going for it is its presentation. Right when you pop in the disc you feel the techno vibe and every menu is clean and slick. Blur's single player experience is based around a series of competitions from one specific challenger (Boss). In each series of events is 6 races (either destruction, checkpoint, or standard races) culminating in a boss race with said challenger, after you complete not only the events but 4 different tasks (i.e. evading 10 shunts, gaining 1000 fans). Boss races aren't as exciting as regular races (with up to 20 competitors), and don't leave you satisfied. Luckily there are goals to complete in every other event and you receive lights for getting 1st, 2nd, and so on as well as a fan target and fan run. Lights help you advance through the career, while fans help bump up your driver level. What are fans you say? Well, you will gain fans from competing hard, completing challenges, and coming 1st place. I enjoy gaining fans instead of xp or money, and I think this is something more racers should adopt.
When a game like Blur combines mario kart and Need for Speed like qualities, graphics are something that immediately come to mind, and I was not a fan. While menus have an electronic neon look, tracks keep to an almost gray color palette and the only things that pop off the screen are power ups and cars. Even though there is great track variety, letting you race from the streets of downtown LA to the pebbled sidewalks of Barcelona, they all have the same look and feel, and I almost forget sometimes just where I'm racing. Blur has an amazing collection of licensed cars to unlock, and even though they are as detailed as a Need for Speed or Burnout, they don't stand out and I found myself not caring very much about what color I wanted my car to be.
Gameplay, though, is the central problem of Blur's mistakes, as racing is a complete ripoff of Mario Kart and Need for Speed. As you race in Ford GTs in the mountain tops of the Hollywood Hills, you collect power ups that float in the middle of the road, just like mario kart, but you know what power up it is, which is useful, as well as the fact that you can collect up to three at a time and send them backwards. The power ups, though, are most you know and love, just in a sleeker form, like the shunt ( a homing missile), bolt ( 3 basic "red shells"), and nitrous (please tell me you know what that is). They are all fun to use, for 5 minutes, and then it becomes standard fare. Which is the problem- we've all seen it before, unlike a Split Second, where buildings are crashing at you with sheer force (don't tell me you've seen that before). This is why I was so disappointed in Blur, because there are some places where Blur stands out, and in the most important area, it falters.
While I was way down on Blur while playing the single player career, I fell in love with Blur's online component. It features a Call of Duty style online system, complete with hundreds of challenges to complete, cars and perks to unlock, and levels to rank (of course, by gaining fans). Playing with up to 20 of your friends in many different online modes never gets old. Playing with real people is not frustrating like the AI opponents and the action is always frantic and chaotic. Although some things need to be fixed, like glitching and occasional lag, the fun factor is turned way up online and I wish single player was built more like this.
That's not to say Blur doesn't have any faults, because as far as I can tell there were many more misses in relation to hits. It's gameplay might feel like an unimaginative cross between mario kart and Need for Speed, and the graphics might be a slight gray area in the face of the colorful techno vibe of menu screens, but this does not take away from Blur's online mayhem, where I can guarantee you'll have a great time.
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"Blur is a quality product and is completely out of place in its bargain bin. Its merging of street and kart racer is almost seamless and it manages to occupy the middle ground between the two without ever feeling awkward"