Posted on 17 July 2010 by Fahad Majidi

While the first person shooter may have introduced elaborate new cover systems, and other sports titles the ability to play as just one athlete, the racing game is arguably this generation’s biggest innovator. After all, just this year the genre will have offered gamers a landscape the size of Northern Ireland; concussion effects upon crashing; an airport crumbling to rubble around them; and of course, power-ups in a gritty setting. Whether or not any of this represents actual progress generally depends upon how bitter and twisted you are, but for the moment we stand by our slight cantankerousness.

The fact that pure racing fans only have Forza Motorsport 3 to look forward to makes us just a little bit sad. After all, how many hours must little Timmy and Tommy spend hooked on energy drinks to make the thought of tearing down famous circuits in the world’s most powerful cars not sufficiently exciting? Nevertheless, we remain open-minded enough to realize that this is criticism partially based upon what we would like Blur to be and not what it actually is – and in truth there are some successes here.

Oval racing seems as good a place to start as any. Featured here amid the dust and drought of Southern Spain, it makes more sense in videogame from than perhaps ever before, and that includes NASCAR outings. The really quite obsessive, inch perfect nature of competition is given a much-needed facelift by Blur’s suite of power-ups potent enough to provide windows of opportunity without assuming Blue Shell infamy. Especially with 19 other racers weaving between the barriers. And if you are into the kind of music that might be played by those people with car stereo speakers larger than their engines, boy, are you in for a treat.

Vehicle handling lies somewhere between that of Need For Speed Underground and Race Driver: Grid, with vehicle often turning far swifter than our regrettably green fingers could accommodate. As far as we’re concerned, however, that’s perfectly acceptable, allowing players to concentrate on the important business of not slamming into London buses that Hackney Council has allowed to close off roads… for some reason.

As for the negative criticism, well, after Bizarre Creations’ former focus or urban environments, realistic to the point of structural surveying, Blur isn’t exactly a stunner in the looks department. There’s a distinctly washed-out, desolate quality to the environments, perhaps necessitated by all that neon flying between the pack. We still have some reservations about both the scope of Bizarre’s power-ups system and its uses in the kind of tight, claustrophobic environments the developer is used to.

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