Another Bizarre Creation

Blur doesn't deviate too far from the developers' previous games, but when it does... well, that's when things get interesting.
Author: Sam Bishop
Published: July 2, 2010
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When Activision scooped up UK-based Bizarre Creations, it was seen as something of a coup for multi-platform (or perhaps just PlayStation) owners. Previously, the company had enjoyed lengthy swathes of mostly-exclusive runs with SEGA and Microsoft. Their racing games, starting with Metropolis Street Racer on the Dreamcast and maturing into Project Gotham Racing in later years on both Xboxes came to define a very particular mix of simulation handling and arcade risk/reward setups. Yes, you were meant to drive like a fairly straightforward racer, but if you did hot dog it a little with powerslides and overtakes, you were given some great rewards.

It's not hard to see the PGR legacy in Blur. Despite all the talk of it being a kart racer all grown up, there's really more straight racing here than any Mario Kart or ModNation Racers would ever allow. Technique, proper braking and choosing the right car for the terrain are given equal footing with a myriad of power-ups that zap, fry, spin out and shove around the cars on the road, and in that respect Blur is no kart racer -- at least not one that we've really seen before.

Before I get to the single-player portion, though, it's important to point out what Blur does when it goes online before anything else. Being an Activision studio, it seems, has a few benefits in being able to crib from other in-house properties, namely Modern Warfare's RPG-like progression. Every weapon, every vehicle class and every track seems to have multiple ways to earn XP (sorry, "fans" in Blur parlance). Avoid getting hit a few times and suddenly you have a big boost to your fans. Use an item well enough times, and ditto. More fans mean more (but not necessarily better) rides, and as you level up, different race types are unlocked.

It's an unashamedly brazen aping of those concepts that made the modern Call of Duty games so addictive, but even in the context of a racer, it works. You're given so many different things to go for -- and often stumble upon many more just by playing -- that there's that constant carrot dangling there, egging you on.

What's truly remarkable about Blur's handling of its social aspects, though, extends much further than any levels or XP or progress bars. Nearly every single screen in the game allows you to pull up a menu and submit your progress to sites like Facebook and Twitter. Early on, you're given a chance to pick a one-time Rival from your friends list where you'll constantly compare results from your single-player progress. And, after finishing any race, you can take your results, wrap them up as a neat little package (and add another, specific bonus objective that can be less than, equal to or greater than some other criteria you choose), then send that off to up to three friends on your friends list.

It's not exaggerating to say that Blur offers more ways to pull your friends into friendly competition with just a few button taps, and by making very obvious challenges for them based on your performance you've already laid down, there's a hankering for a kind of one-upsmanship that's never been seen before. This game does indeed break entirely new ground in finding ways for you to set the bar and then encourage friends to top it -- all without ever having to go into a multiplayer mode to do it.
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