Blur Updated Hands-On

We go hands-on with the latest game from the folks who brought you Project Gotham Racing.

In many racing games, "more power" might refer to installing a more efficient exhaust system or a beefier engine for your favorite ride. In developer Bizarre Creations (best known for its Project Gotham Racing series) and Activision's upcoming Blur, "more power" takes on an entirely different meaning--from force fields that can knock your opponents off a cliff to nitro boosts that will blast your car to supersonic speeds. It's just one of the ways Blur is set to differentiate itself from the always-crowded racing genre when it's released this November. Earlier this week, Activision brought by a build of the game and gave us some hands-on time with this arcade racer.

As Activision producers pointed out to us numerous times, the goal with Blur is to make racing games accessible to everyone. As a result, you won't find menus loaded up with gear head jargon for adjusting spoiler angle or setting gear ratios. In short, if that's your thing, then Blur might not be your thing. For those who don't get caught up in the minutiae of mechanics, you can expect an approachable arcade racer that puts a premium on track mayhem rather than ideal racing lines.

You'll play as an up-and-coming racer in Blur who is looking to make a name for himself in the underground racing scene. Along the way, you'll meet a bunch of recurring characters; some of whom will be rivals, others who will act as mentors. Early on in the game, one character named Rhymer will take you through a tutorial. If you've spent any time at all on a console racing game, you'll feel right at home with the basics--right trigger for gas, left trigger for brake (though you won't need that much), and left stick to steer.

Driving is a simple affair, but it's the power-ups that add the spice. In the early goings, you'll only have a few to choose from--the nitro boost and the shunt--which you can use to blast the car ahead of you. There's no aiming involved with the shunt power-up; instead, you just need to wait until an icon appears over the car ahead of you and press the A button to fire. As you progress a bit deeper into the game, you'll find races with additional power-ups-- one will fire a long-range electrical blast that will temporarily slow down opponents while another will drop mines directly behind you (and is ideal to use in corners or just ahead of power-ups).

The power-ups are effective from the get-go, but as you progress through the game, they'll become more powerful. You can use the money you earn from race events to purchase upgrades to your power-ups, as well as the number of power-up slots you have available to you during a race (you start off with two slots). If you have banked two power-ups of the same type, you can also fire them in quick succession--known in-game as a double tap--for a boosted effect. For instance, using a double tap nitro will give you a much more dramatic and extended boost than your typical boost. In addition to the offensive-minded power-ups, you'll have shields you can temporarily engage by pressing the X button. If you've been locked on by an opposing driver when racing, an icon will appear onscreen and you'll have a small window of time to activate your shield.

Collect the power-ups, then blast, boost, and bash your way across the finish line.

Although racing to cross the finish line first will be your goal in most races, it won't be the only way to progress. By performing daring moves in races and using your power-ups liberally, you'll earn fans during a race. These fans will give you money you can use for upgrades and to purchase new cars. Fans will also unlock new content throughout the game. During a race, you can earn chain multipliers by stringing together several power-ups in a row and reaping the fan rewards in the process. Certain races will also have "fan demands" pick-ups, which essentially act as midrace objectives, such as finding a hidden power-up or performing a nitro jump. If you manage to nail a fan demand objective, you'll get a boost to your fan totals at the end of the game.

Most of the cars in Blur are officially licensed models, and the game features a mixture of cars from all over the world. You'll have your American muscle cars, imports from Europe and Japan, and a few specialty vehicles that look to be a lot of fun to drive, as well as some concept models that were specifically designed by the folks at Bizarre. It won't just be cars either--we saw trucks, hot rods, and even a van that was said to be outfitted with an F1 engine available for purchase in the game. Cars are defined by several characteristics: acceleration, speed, strength, drift, grip, and stability.

You'll take all of these cars through varied locales, such as Los Angeles (including the opening races that take place in the LA Basin), the hills of San Francisco, London, Japan, and elsewhere. By the looks of things, track design is fairly open to begin with and only gets into tight, curvy sections once you're used to the extremely forgiving handling in the game. That said, there is the occasional surprise thrown your way. Early on, you'll be racing in the Hollywood Hills, and your opponents will be able to knock you off the track to send you barrel-rolling down the hills if you make a mistake. All cars in a race--yours included--will have an associated health meter, and if the meter goes down to zero, your race will be over. However, you'll find repair power-ups strewn throughout a level that will return your car to full health.

Cars show damage but your most important concern is your ride's health meter.

In addition to the single-player game, we got a peek at Blur's multiplayer aspect, specifically a look at the four-player split-screen. It's been a while since we've played a split-screen racing game, and while the frame rate seems to take a bit of hit, the trash-talking is amped up considerably when the cars are zipping along and the power-ups are flying. You can choose to set your multiplayer options along a large variety of criteria--locale, car class, number of AI racers, and the like--or play in World Tour mode, which will set random races up in sequence for as long as you and your friends wish to race. One cool thing about multiplayer is that fans earned by all players in the game go to a central pool and can be used to unlock content, such as new race modes.

Yes, Blur represents a change in focus for the Bizarre team. That said, it's worth noting that even the Project Gotham Racing series had an element of approachability that set it apart from the more serious console sim racers out there. Nonetheless, the studio is throwing its hat fully into the arcade racing scene this time around with the hope of expanding the genre to an audience that might not otherwise even look at this type of game. We'll find out if this new direction pays dividends in fun factor and sales when the game is released on November 3.

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48 comments
plightstar
plightstar

They should remake Carmageddon, those powerups bring back memories from that game, all is missing are the humans in the street and insane cars.

SamMcK1664
SamMcK1664

This looks interesting, with people comparing it to Mario kart and Wipeout and the fact that its made by the same people who brought us PGR I'll definently be keeping an eye out for this.

Quinzark
Quinzark

"all the way back to mario kart 64" ... if it goes to mario kart 64 wouldn't it go further back to the older mario cart games? anyway this looks alright, but more like something i'd rent for a week rater than buy. hope it proves me wrong.

MegaWang
MegaWang

DeanCorleone - What the hell are you talking about? Death race borrowed it's ideas from an age old prevalence of racing games with power ups and weapons, all the way back to mario kart 64 you idiot. Additionally these cars don't have weapons, just power ups, which death race didn't. Your comparison is completely null.

smp13
smp13

Finally, a game with 4 player split screen. All to rare nowadays.

DeanCorleone
DeanCorleone

Someone saw Death Race and wanted to make a video game. Not for me. I'd suggest renting it because it looks like it will get old, just my two cents.

Wookiemonster12
Wookiemonster12

it actually doesnt sound that bad... i mean sure i like to supe up my cars but buying better ones is better because u dont waste heaps of time and the idea of fans actually sounds pretty sweet

j1m5s73
j1m5s73

Yes mystwade it is wipeout on wheels, but that might not be a bad thing

NightAngeI
NightAngeI

Seems interesting from what I read. Maybe they'll deliver...

mystwade
mystwade

errr... wipeout anyone???

krystians
krystians

Finally! Someone smart has listened to me when I have explicetly told them not to make games anymore where I have to soup up cars!!!

da_evilman666
da_evilman666

[This message was deleted at the request of a moderator or administrator]

Keiner
Keiner

It kinda reminds me of Mario kart but with realistic cars rather than go carts. Still looks fun though

quijeros
quijeros

It does look like it has a Geometry War-esque style. Four-player splitscreen excites me too, but I'm still not sure about this one.

grunt_destroyer
grunt_destroyer

Reminds me of Midnight Club 3, but looks alot better and as though more thought was put into the powerups.

un3xpectedfate
un3xpectedfate

Oh goodie, another racing game! Will have to try it out. ;)

k9bdog
k9bdog

the tracks better be huge

Vasot
Vasot

Seems like a well designed game...

Jbentkowski2
Jbentkowski2

Rent the game when it comes before making an assumption like a retard Blame80.

inwill12
inwill12

I meant dirt 2's controls are not as good as on forza 3. not that im comparing the two types.the controls suck in dirt2 but graphics are 10/10

q64silver
q64silver

too much money for marketing campaigns (watch NFS Shif, Blur latest videos)

blame80
blame80

so it's wipeout with cars in a different environment... big deal... especially after watching some gameplay movies this seems mediocre at best.

shani_boy101
shani_boy101

it looks pretty cool. its like those arcade kart racing games of the Playstation and N64 days, except with real, beautiful cars and realistic physics. i'll get this, it looks fun.

alex19589
alex19589

Sounds great in theory but lets actually see someone actually playing the game and not some movies!

newb16
newb16

I thought this kind of racing genre died along with the N64?

d3emondav3
d3emondav3

Combines the awesome combat of Wipeout and stellar driving of PGR. Looks interesting at the very least!

gauty
gauty

omale this is where the real fun lies! who needs a tuner when blowing up cars is wat gives you all the satisfaction you need... :D

xki11youx
xki11youx

so its mario kart, without mario, but with real cars, i dont know about this one

Skwerls
Skwerls

They're talking as if power-ups are something new...

twztid13
twztid13

....WHY bizzare creations, WHY?

punkdsk8erdude
punkdsk8erdude

looks interesting. the powerups in midnight club LA certainly made things interesting. but im betting this games going to drive a helluva lot easier than LA. But it's not like this hasn't been done before...racing with powerups. It's been done plenty of times, but it's still fun. What I'd rather see instead of racing games with powerups, i'd rather see straight forward car combat games like the old Twisted Metal from PS1 (TM2 was the best!!) No racing involved. Straight forward car combat.

Sellwin
Sellwin

inwill12 Posted Sep 3, 2009 3:55 pm PT "It's good but it's not Forza 3 or NFS SHIFT !!!!!!!" Yes, that is true. It's also not Cooking Mama or Shenmue 5.

DJtoKen
DJtoKen

Did I hear someone say "Wipeout Rip-off!"?

AlmightyMax
AlmightyMax

I wonder if Damon and the crew are going to sue over this logo. Game looks pretty good, I have to admit.

beel-kun
beel-kun

although the game won't be as good as PGR! We may only could see PGR5 in 2011 since Bizzare was working on blur at this time but hopefully soon. Still this game loooks so promising

inwill12
inwill12

It's good but it's not Forza 3 or NFS SHIFT !!!!!!!