Playback: Blur

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.

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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.

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25 Comments

  1. I loved Blur. Bought it at the same time as RDR and it got more playtime than it. Extremely fun in multilayer and like you said, the game is fantastic in split screen.
    As for the single player, it got boring fast and the rubber banding was horrendous. Also the class B vehicles were completely outbalanced. I traded it in not so long ago though…

  2. I loved the multiplayer side of Blur, probably the best multiplayer racing game that I have played. The only real problem being that it was a bit too easy to defend a lead if you could get some space between you and the chasing pack.

    Definitely an underrated game though and a shame that more people didn’t play it.

  3. Played this way back when it was released. It was and is a really good game but I will admit to it being kind of an acquired taste.
    Just the elements that were brought together did seem weird but without focusing on that too much, the game was a lot of fun and in comparison to the games it launched alongside, to me it was way better than Modnation Racers but a bit lacking compared to Split/Second which even now is one of my favourite racers on PS3. Still, it’s far more closely related to Modnation Racers and could sit quite happily on the same shelf as S/S without competing.

    Seems a daft way to classify it but as far as “kart” racers go, you definitely can’t go wrong with it at all.

    Awesome ad too. Never seen that before today and it actually works, I want to play Blur right now! :D

  4. Loved Blur but I was one to buy Split/Second first. I think if anything Blur has a load of great options and tracks and its because of the options why it just about remains with me whilst S/S was sold on mid last year.

  5. Loved it! And Split/Second too!

  6. This one was killed off by releasing the same day as RDR – Split second & modnation both suffered from the same fate. I thought everyone in the industry knew not to release a game the same day as Rockstar now??

    That aside, this had a great Multiplayer, but the singleplayer just feels like a bit of a chore after that (i did mp first) – Especially on a brighton track that is basically no more than a circle, as if you get anywhere near the front, you are consistently bombarded by powerups from behind you & due to the tight course, there is nothing that you can do about it. Sure, you can deflect the odd one or two with a powerup of your own, but that means nothing when you have 11 other racers all firing at you!

    I haven’t been back to it since that race, which is a shame as it has sullied the rest of the game for me. :(

    It was good, but Split Second was in another league as far as i am concerned.

    • Couldn’t care less about RDR but then i couldn’t care less about Blur either, just not my thing. :) I don’t generally like weapons in car games either.

      • I hate weapons in car games too. Just about to win, get hit by a weapon, roll in in fourth. Super frustrated.

  7. Might have to pick this up.

  8. Never really taken the time for racers these days, but this online was actually superb I spent many hours on this late at night, gameplay was great tracks were great and the soundtrack was great.

    Would be nice for this to release a sequel and become abit more mainstream and popular

    • Would be quite hard considering Bizarre went under!

      Unless Activision own the rights of course…

    • Shows how much I’m clued up lol

  9. weird, i was thinking about this game last night… my favourite driving game ever!

  10. Great game i remeber buying it the same day as split/Second 2 awesome games hated the Blur single player but the Multiplayer was awesome

    • Agreed, the multiplayer on this game was superb. Never had such frantic fun in a driving game before.
      I’ll definitely be playing this again very soon, Loved it.

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