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Blur GamesCom 2009 Preview

British based developer Bizarre Creations, creators of the highly successful Project Gotham Racing, make a move away from its roots with a less realistic but more accessible arcade racer. Blur takes a few tried and tested fundamentals, adds several new ideas to the mix and then fuses them into something which is hopefully original and creative. Ben Ward, Studio Communications Manager of Bizarre Creations, started the presentation of the game by stating that their goal is to create a fun, exciting racing game, focusing on instant fun instead of simulation. Blur is also designed to address the frustrating areas of a racing game.

This arcade racer features up to 20 opponents on the track at the same time, which provides a genuinely fast-paced and electrifying experience. One of the unique gameplay components are the power-ups, such as nitro, mines and shock, all of which add inter-car combat and thus a veneer of strategy to each race. Vehicles have a health bar, meaning that a number of cars may not even finish a race, particularly if things get personal. A protective shield is on hand to help defend against such attacks and a repair power-up is also available. This repair power-up has an instant effect, whereas offensive powers can be stored in a three-way slot on the HUD and then used one-by-one on demand or all at once for various effects.


The cars - split into A, B, C and D categories - are all specially modified real-world cars such as BMW's and Dodge Vipers, complete with damage effects to boot. The cars are also varied by way of six different stats, ranging from acceleration to strength to drift. Locations are real world and include Barcelona and London, though each location has been tweaked to make them a little more vibrant and interesting to race through. There tracks also possess small parts of interactive scenery and multi-route sections.

The handling of the car I drove felt drift like, almost loose, and at first I found myself spinning around helplessly. I got used to the controls soon after a minute and I began to enjoy flinging the car around corners, at which point I was able to starting thinking about what strategy I was going to advance up the ranks. A nice flow started to emerge as I began to learn the track, overtaking cars by use of racing flair and also good use of power-ups, though being on the other end of these moves is obviously going to be a tad annoying.


Looking through the stylish menus we essentially have a number of single and multiplayer modes. The career mode is designed such that the player is given a reason to continue playing-on, with the story and characters delivered through a modern approach including in-game fictional social networks and texting. Power-ups and hints on how to use them are introduced gradually to ensure they are used to their maximum potential, whilst ‘fan points', gained in various ways such as racing competitively, are used to progress through the game - effectively the equivalent to PGR's Kudos points.

The online element of Blur will also boast 20 cars on a track while a social network interface is also promised, with online features including messaging and custom groups. Multiplayer can also be played out locally with up to four players on split-screen. While gathering around the same TV with mates on a title like Blur has the potential to be a riot of fun, trying to make out a track at high speed on a smaller 4-way split TV screen could, as usually is the case, be difficult. To make Blur accessible on demand, Bizarre Creations will have to be careful not to make it so that veterans of the game can spoil the game by thrashing new players on arrival; with any luck the power-ups will even help things up.


There is also plenty of customisation to be had when setting up a race - power-ups can be disabled individually or removed altogether to create a purer racer. A god-send to some players will be the World Tour mode, whereby every setting is set to random and you can just keep on racing through different tracks in a random set list, making life that little bit easier.

As this Xbox 360, PS3 and PC racer cruises ever closer to its November 6th release date, Blur is on course to become a focal point in the racing calendar, and not solely becasue of the big name developer and publisher. There is an interesting blend of different gameplay ideas and social networking elements, which could all come together for a modern off- and online game. A play of an inevitable demo in the near future should help decide whether Blur can meet expectations and if the actual gameplay meets your tastes. To summerise in one line: this may just become one of those games which makes you want to come back again and again until you're blurry-eyed.

POBmaestro | 25th August, 2009

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