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Blur Hands-On Preview

Blur Hands-On Preview

Publisher: Activision Blizzard
Platform: Xbox 360, PS3, PC
Release date: 28th May 2010

There are two types of people in this world: those that like their driving games to be as close to really driving a car as possible, and those that want games to be everything driving in real life isn't: a dangerously fast pursuit where traffic, pedestrians and the forces of law and order can be dealt with as destructively as possible.

Just as Gran Turismo and its many imitators have defined driving simulation for the past few years, the more violent end of the driving game spectrum has been most influenced by Grand Theft Auto. Which is fine if you like hooning around a massive city in an SUV and keeping track of what mission you're trying to complete, but not so great if you want a game that's more race focussed. Even the Burnout series eventually fell in step with this open-world approach.

Blur Hands-On Preview
Power-ups can do a lot to alter the outcome of a race. Like blowing up your enemies.

Blur is definitely a chaotic and destructive driving game, but it takes it cues from games such as WipEout: weapons are important, but they're all vehicle mounted: there's no getting out of the car, and while combat is important, it doesn't overpower the racing element of the game. Given the pedigree of the developer, this isn't surprising - Bizarre Creations is the studio behind Metropolis Street Racer on the Dreamcast and the Project Gotham series on the Xbox.

Diving straight into Blur is strange; its full of licensed cars (more than 55 apparently), running from battered muscle cars to ordinary A-to-B mobiles such as the Ford Focus and far quicker Corvettes and even the Koenigsegg CCXR. The circuits are set in real life earth cities such as Tokyo, LA and Hackney, and yet dotted around the courses are power-ups, including mines, electric shocks and missiles.

Blur Hands-On Preview
Blur focuses on racing and vehicle-to-vehicle combat.

The developers have made no attempt to anchor the power-ups in reality - the nitro isn't charging up an actual nitro on your car, it's just as wicked blast of plasma which hurls you down the race track. The missiles - called bolts - aren't little rockets of metal, they're mean little gobs of energy, to all intents and purposes, photon torpedoes. There's no attempt to be gritty or sensible. All of the power-ups fizz with energy and they're all colour-coded, from the gooey green of the nitro to the sharp red of the bolts.

It's a strange world, but to be honest, you don't exactly get a lot of time to sit around the think about things. Blur is very focussed on getting you on the track. The cars might be real, but from what we saw there's not much scope for tinkering or tuning. All power-ups are picked up on the track, so it's simply a case of selecting a car from the relevant class for the race (they're split roughly in terms of speed, from slow Ds to the rapid As) and then you're off.

Once you're on track, things go even quicker. Blur is fast. Even in the early races, the cars really shift, and there's a lot of use of blur and light trails and twinkles to give you a sense of pace. During the time we had with the game, we found the AI a consistently entertaining and tough opponent. The enemies - sorry, rival racers - weave around and are aggressive in their pursuit and use of power-ups.