There are two basic ways a racing game can go – arcade or realistic. Activision's new Blur, from the moment you first pop it in to your console, is most definitely the former not the latter. Everything about the game says "arcade racing," and if you enjoy arcade-style racing, you're going to like Blur.
The easiest way to describe the game is actually to call it kart-style racing with real vehicles. The heart of the title lies within its power-ups. These take the form of both offensive and defensive items, eight in total, that are strewn all over each course. Cars are allowed to hold any three items at one time and can cycle through the one they want to have active. None of the power-ups is particularly new or different – there is a mine, lightning strike, energy bolt, homing missile, speed burst, shield, barge (shoves nearby vehicles away from you), and an automatic repair – but they look great and everything in the game occurs at such fantastic speed that trying to figure it all out and use everything to your best advantage definitely takes time to figure out.
Yes, it's absolutely true – levels of Blur go by in a blur. If you take the time to slowdown and look at the scenery and tracks you'll be pleased with the graphics, but you'll also get yourself blown up real good. There are a lot of different vehicles which can be unlocked as you gain more fans in the game, and some are able to withstand more damage. Watching the world go by is a little easier in those cars, but you'll have a harder time catching up to other racers once you're ready to get back on the course because those cars tend to be slower as well.
As for unlocking those cars, and this bit about gaining fans, that all unfolds within the single player mode. There are nine different groups of races within the single player mode and each of those groups leads up to a boss battle (a one-on-one race). Come in first, second, or third in a race and you earn lights (three for third, four for second, and five for first). Two other lights are available during each race as well – one for gaining enough fans, and the other for passing through certain gates on the course. It is by earning more lights that you open more races.
But, that doesn't tell you how to get those fans, does it? Well, to do that you need to protect yourself from enemy attacks, attack enemies yourself, and do it all back-to-back as there are bonus fans earned for chaining attacks. You can also gain fans by being in first, drifting, and doing other generally cool things during the race. Gaining more fans not only gets you the fan light in each race, but it also ups for Fan Status (the total number of fans you have) and earns you new cars.
Although it's still technically within the single player game you can also participate in challenges with friends, online leaderboards, and upload your successes to places like Facebook automatically. Multiplayer play also exists – both split-screen with up to four local players and via LAN or PSN with 20 total racers. Fans can still be earned in online multiplayer which is a great way to boost your level (and the level cap is higher in multiplayer).
With a ton of courses, good graphics and sounds, and a great deal of speed, Blur is a truly fun arcade racing title. Although cars can't really be customized (some upgrades do exist, but don't think you'll be tweaking every little bit of your car), there are enough of them available (and earning them does go relatively quickly), and they're all different from one another that you won't feel stuck with a poor performing vehicle. Plus, the cars are based upon real vehicles. The courses are incredibly varied, so you will find yourself wanting to use many different types of vehicles including those with a great deal of grip, those that drift better, and the all-important off-roaders.
The game also incorporates an excellent tutorial. Rather than having you play through an entire tutorial section that really dumbs things down and sucks the fun out before you even begin or throwing you into the middle of the action and having you fail several times before you work it all out, early on in the game a nice voiceover lady comes on just before some (but not all) of the races and gives you a quick little hint on how to do x, y, or z. You may have worked out whatever she's said already, but she talks while you watch a clip of whatever is being discussed so you still end up with a better handle on it all.
Blur delivers a great deal of fun in a fast-paced environment. Whether it's happening behind you and only visible in your rearview, off to your side, or right in front of you, there's someone right there trying to knock you out of the race (which can be done if your damage is too great). But, even a semi-skilled driver can strike back very successfully. Perhaps though the best thing that can be said about the game is not only that each individual level passes by in a blur, by that when you sit down to play time will as well.
Blur is rated E10+ (Everyone 10 and older) by the ESRB for Mild Violence. This game can also be found on: PC and Xbox 360.