It’s like Wipeout ****ed Burnout and had a kid, although if you’re an authentically old skool DOS troll like me, it’s kinda like Deathtrack for the current gen. Since that works out to substantially less than 400 words, however, here’s a bunch of otherwise mostly superfluous paragraphs.
Blur is 100% pure arcade. There’s no mucking about with torque and tyres and all that other esoteric rubbish other so-called “realistic” racers are so caught up with at the expense of, you know, fun. Instead, the cars in the lineup are simply “Grippy”, “Drifty”, and “Balanced”, and the big idea is to finish in first place and mess stuff up on the way over. Messing stuff up mostly involves deploying track pickups – Nitro boosts, Shunts, Bolts, Shocks, Mines, Shields, Barges, and Repairs – at all the opportune times to bully your way around. The very definition of simple, classic elegance slopped over with a big bucket of chaos.
The game’s career mode is the usual drive-your-way-to-the-top business, comprising a number of mixed events in a sort of around-the-world tour, each with certain completion criteria and objectives. This includes a “Fan” system, rewarding skilfully thuggish play and bonus mid-race mini-events with invisible people cash or something that basically just unlocks additional vehicles.
It’s also fiendishly – even frustratingly – difficult. While you’re still getting your Bolt targeting on in the warmups, the AI is already hurling blitzkrieg at your stupid, useless (neon pink) Ford Focus with all the pitiless contempt of deputy dark wizards. When you’re forced, while nobody’s looking, to secretly bump the difficulty down to Easy something below Normal during the opening events, you know you’re in for a bumpy ride.
But where Blur really works is the pick-up-and-play multiplayer. The console versions of the game support 4-way splitscreen, while all versions include up to 20-player online matchmaking. The meaningless on-track rivalries from the career mode are something else entirely when you can chuck your controller at somebody on the couch for daring to Shunt you into the barriers just in front of the finish line.
The arguably unreasonable difficulty of the campaign notwithstanding, Blur mostly makes up for its few faults with loads of gratuitous, exhilarating good fun. After a weekend jamming this with some pals, I just about had to murder my way out of the apartment to get the thing back home for review.