Activision had high hopes for arcade racer Blur. The game had a decent advertising campaign including TV spots that ridiculed Mario Kart, an extravagant launch party with a performance from Plan B and, crucially, a good review score which sits at 81 on Metacritic.[drop]Nick Davies of Bizarre Creations said that Blur was the start of a new franchise and that “that the strong multiplayer component would give the game staying power.” Everything was set for the birth of great new racing series, the game hit the shelves and… stayed there.
Why Blur failed to meet Activisions expectations, hitting one million sales in the end, and become a hit is somewhat of a mystery. Some blamed the release of Split/Second: Velocity and ModNation Racers at around the same time, eating up valuable market share.
Others felt that mash up of licensed vehicles and fictional weapons confused gamers. The lead designer of Blur, Gareth Wilson, said
Licensing is a good way to go, but you have to be careful because licensing costs money. You have to balance it. With Project Gotham Racing 3 we spent millions getting Ferrari but it worked. People saw that on the cover. But with Blur, the licensing maybe worked against us: real cars and weapons. Bacon with cornflakes.
Here at TSA we scored Blur a healthy 7/10 with our reviewer saying “This is the Michael Bay of racing games – it’s simple, it’s stupid, it’s fast, it’s colourful, it’s wonderfully noisy and it’s not to be taken seriously.”
The reviewer of Blur was yours truly and as reports came in of the game failing to meet expectations and the subsequent closure of industry veterans Bizarre Creations I couldn’t help but question if I had given Blur the correct score. Had I been too critical? Had my review hastened the demise of Bizarre and helped a hundred people on to the dole queue?
Well the simple answer is no. For a full price game Blur is lacking in features and you will zip through the 63 events that make up the single player campaign in a few hours. It doesn’t help that there are only three types of events – racing, checkpoint, and destruction – and only nine ‘boss’ races to beat.
You can count the number of power ups on one hand and the course list is also rather short so it’s a shame Activision closed down Bizarre Creations before any DLC could be released.
However almost two years from release my copy of Blur still finds its way in to my PS3 thanks to its fantastic multiplayer. There are a healthy number of racers still online at any time of day but it’s the split screen multiplayer that I use the most.
Whilst the game looks and plays like something Sega would have put in an arcade cabinet ten years ago, you cannot just put your foot down and hope for the best. The power-ups are balanced extremely well and can be used to counter an attack from an enemy.[videoyoutube]For example, the ‘Barge’ emits a powerful (and neon blue) shockwave from your vehicle which can be used to push opponents in to the side of the track but if timed correctly. If you’d rather blow things up, it can also be used to detonate the giant red homing balls which attack from behind (saucy!)
If power-ups weren’t enough you can mod your car with extra power. Generally these have a good tactical use, for example one such perk transforms any hits to an activated shield power up in to new power ups for you to use. Another will give you a nitro boost for every lap you can complete and even these blasts of speed can be used as weapons.
Blur’s visits to my PlayStation 3 are never for long though, it’s a game you play for a few minutes now and then when you have friends over – or in my case Blur is used as tool on Sunday mornings to decide who is going to pay for breakfast. Best of three, loser pays for the Full English!
For a game that is almost two years old, Blur seems to holding its value quite well and can be found online for £15-£20 and at that price I can heartily recommend it. Give it a whirl, you never know you might win some breakfast.