Preview: Blur

March 18, 2010

Snackbar’s Andrew Passafiume and Graham Russell spent time with the beta for Blur, the upcoming arcade racer from Bizarre Creations and Activision, so that they could bring you their impressions. Okay, they might have had some fun with it too.

Andrew Passafiume: Based on the previews I had seen before playing this beta, Blur seemed like a combination between Burnout and Mario Kart. It was taking a more “realistic” approach to the concept of Mario Kart or similar racers, but with the same arcade racing aesthetic as a Burnout or early Need for Speed title. What I did play in the beta, however, exceeded any expectations I had set for the game.

I feel like to compare Blur to any racer similar to it would do it a disservice. It not only takes the concept present in a series like Mario Kart, but it manages to improve upon it in every way. The power ups all seem a lot more balanced than the ones found in Mario Kart, and being in last place is no longer a boring, frustrating affair. Blur is fun no matter what place you are in (although some may argue that being in first is not as fun as being in last).

What I really love is the fact that, no matter where you are in the race, you can still catch up and make it to first. There is a never a feeling of uncertainty of being in last the majority of the race, because there is still a chance you could always catch up with the right combination of timing and unique power-ups. Racing game enthusiasts may scoff at this, but this game isn’t made for them, it’s made for the casual player in mind.

Also, online has a “leveling up” system in which you earn experience based on your races and how well you did in those races. It adds another layer of depth to the multiplayer, which seems to be something that people will continue to play months after its initial release.

Blur seems to be a surprisingly good time. Whether or not the single player will hold up is yet to be determined, but based solely on the multiplayer beta, this seems to be a must own for any racing game fans, even if you are just a casual player.

Graham Russell: I don’t know if I’d gush quite as much as Andrew, but I can’t deny that Blur exceeded my expectations as well. It takes the Mario Kart formula, gives it a few twists to keep it fresh, and slaps a heavy coating of eye candy on it all. (It’s especially gorgeous in HD if you can experience it that way.)

Depth is hard to judge in a beta, so I won’t do it. There are some nice details I’ll point out. Races are limited by car class, so even those who don’t like switching up cars will have to get used to four or five different vehicles. The paint jobs may not seem like much, but it’s a small way of customization without getting too overwhelming, and the post-race awards are oh-so-fun. (I was even excited to get the ones for falling off the track the most or getting blown up most frequently.)

An interesting twist to the racing strategy is the fact that items are static. That means you’re jostling for position for that boost or repair that you need, and different points in the race have different ideal paths. You can counter the to your benefit.

I’m not sure if the gameplay will hold up as well in split-screen (my preferred setup), but I’m holding out hope.