Power Hour: Blur (Xbox 360)
Not that it helps much, but I was a firm supporter of Bizarre Creations, owning their last two home releases in Blood Stone and Blur. Sadly, and this may have been an issue for them, I’ve owned Blur for about 6 months and never got around to opening it until this past week. What can you do? Anyhow, how does Blur stack up nearly a year after release? Let’s find out!
If one were ask to describe what Blur was like in a single sentence, it would be Mario Kart meets Need for Speed. I know some people dislike the blatant comparisons between other games/franchises, but at the end of the day it is what it is. The game uses real cars and real-world locations as the basis for its visuals, but adds in all sorts of crazy mods and power-ups. In terms of the Mario Kart franchise, you get your green and red shells, your banana peels and your mushroom speed bursts. Oddly, the game does not feature a blue shell equivalent, which comes into play as I will explain in just a little bit.
Visually, the game is rather nice looking. Granted, its a racing game you don’t usually slow down long enough to admire the visual details, but it is nice on the eyes. The locations vary, but don’t really offer anything too spectacular or different. You get some nice touches such as the hot dog cart you can drive through in one of the New York stages or driving behind the Hollywood sign in Hollywood, but that’s about it. In a minor visual touch, but one I always appreciate, there are also drivers in the car, ghost cars always felt like cheating to me!
The music in the game… is unremarkable. I honestly couldn’t tell you anything I heard in the game if you were to play it for me right now.
Now that those two departments are out of the way, you want to know the real meat and potatoes. How does it all work? Well the game is divided into an offline career mode and an online system. The offline career mode is quite interesting for a racing game. Sure, it has your standard progression where you win races to advance in the career mode. But there are secondary tasks to achieve in every race. Usually Fan Points, which are achieved by pulling off various tasks during a race like damaging your opponents, overtaking another racer, and staying in first place for a certain amount of time. Then there are the Fan Status tasks, which thus far has been to find a fan power-up during the race and make it through all of the gates before time expires. In the heat of a race, this is a lot tougher than you would imagine. The possibility exists to get all of these tasks independent of each other, but the real points is in getting all 3 at once. As you accumulate points, you will unlock new cars and mods for use.
There however exists some variety, so far in my playtime, I’ve only come across one other mode, but hoping for more. In this mode, you are basically targeting other cars on the road, and trying to take out as many as you can in a short time period. You can gain more time with each wreck you cause. It is a fun diversion, but it can also be a pain such it is hard to aim at times.
Finally, at the end of each block of missions, there is a boss battle which is a one on one race. You can either defeat the opposing driver in a race or do enough damage to their car that you wreck it for an automatic win.
On the multiplayer side, there are a mixture of race types to engage in. You have your free-for-all races which can feature anywhere between 10 and 20 racers. You have a destruction derby-esque mode in which you try and rack up the most amount of points in a set period of time, and finally you have team racing, which is based on the individual placement of your squad mates. All in all, a nice variety of modes, which also allows you to gain XP and unlock new cars and mods for use on- and off-line.
As I noted before, this game doesn’t feature a blue shell equivalent. While most of you may celebrate because you know just how infuriating the blue shell can be in Mario Kart, it does serve a necessary evil in keeping the game somewhat close most of the time. Blur does not have such an item. What I find tends to happen is a person gets so far out in first place due to everyone else jockeying for position, that there is no way to close the gap since everyone is able to pick up the same power-ups on the map. While it does reward skilled drivers, it is also more frustrating for people trying to gain some positioning when a good 5 second lead could turn into a game ender in the first lap.
Ironically, there doesn’t seem to be that problem in single player as the game makes sure that once you are in first place, every computer player seems to pick up the lightning power-up and you have to do some fancy driving to avoid.
I’m sure I’m missing something here, but you get the jist of it. The game can generally be found for 20 bucks or so these days, and for that price, I honestly can recommend you checking it out. If nothing else, to remember Bizarre Creation!