Blur Hands-On

We race around LA and Barcelona in Bizarre Creations' upcoming vehicular combat game.

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Bizarre Creations is best known for the Project Gotham racing series and, before that, for the innovative Metropolis Street Racer. Now, in a somewhat surprising move, the developer has turned its attentions to vehicular combat with Blur--a racer that places more importance on weapons than it does on driving. We had an opportunity to get in on some 16- and 20-player races at Activision's E3 booth today, and we came away entertained though not necessarily excited.

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Blur is still in a pre-alpha state right now, and there's no doubt that there's fun to be had in rolling-start races that incorporate power-ups like mines (drop them behind you), electric shocks (target the car in front), shunts (hit car immediately in front), barges (hit cars on both sides), and nitro boosts. The arcade-style handling of the vehicles is forgiving, the weapons keep things interesting even when you're at the back of the field, and the courses are cleverly designed to incorporate alternate routes and shortcuts. What's a little disappointing, though, is that--at least based on our time with the game today--Blur doesn't appear to do anything that numerous other games haven't done before it.

Even at this early stage of development, dozens of different vehicles appeared to be used, and each exhibited passable damage modeling. Panels were deforming, doors were swinging open, bumpers were hanging off, and black smoke was pouring out from under the hoods--at least until those of us playing realized that there were repair stations dotted around each circuit that, more often than not, could only be driven through if we chose to ignore power-ups or shorter routes to aim for them.

Power-ups were in plentiful supply in the E3 Xbox 360 demo and respawned so quickly that even if the opponent we were tailgating picked one up, there was a great chance that we'd get it too. You'll be able to store up to three power-ups at any one time, and in the finished game, we're told that there will almost certainly be an option to purchase an upgrade that lets you carry even more. Switching between power-ups is as easy as tapping a shoulder button, and though we didn't experiment with it today, we're told that it's possible to "stack" some power-ups by using two or three of them in quick succession. For example, hitting three nitros in quick succession will purportedly boost you to a much greater speed than if you use them each individually.

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Currently scheduled for release later this year, Blur will support a maximum of 20 players online and via system link. It will also offer split-screen support for up to four racers. The four events that we had an opportunity to check out were taken from more than 100 events that will appear in the finished game, which will be set in 14 different locations that include London, San Francisco, Barcelona, and Los Angeles. Blur was fun for the 15 minutes or so that we spent with it today, but it remains to be seen if there are enough interesting features here to keep the game compelling across more than 100 different events. We look forward to bringing you more information on this one as soon as it becomes available.

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