Published on May 29th, 2010 | by Bryant Kazmerzak, Contributor
I hate this game.
I’m just going to get that right out the door. I truly, with every fiber of my being, hate this game. Not because I suck at it and I can’t win the races, oh no.
You see, Blur isn’t the only game that makes me want to swear off racing games forever. In fact, Blur’s creators, Bizzare, have a knack for inducing rage on my part. Project Gotham Racing pissed me off so bad that whenever my little sister, who had no experience with realistic racing games, would beat my ever-loving ass at said game, I swore off videogames entirely for a month. Seriously. It’s not like I suck at games. It’s more like these games, namely the ones by Bizarre, conspire against me and take me hostage, their chattel, a dark vessel of profanity and tears.
The game is beatiful though, as are all of Bizarre’s games. The visuals are very pleasing, with photorealistic cars, real-time reflections on the car exteriors and windshields, and an equally pleasing color pallette. This is not Gears Of War: The Racing Game. The power-up icons have an extremely pleasing neon spectrum to them, almost to the point of being eye-candy. And then when the aforementioned power-ups are used (Usually agianst me), the effects are some of the coolest I’ve seen in a long time. I dont know what sort of super-tech or god-damned magic these drivers wield, but being able to summon forth lightning storms, balls of fire, and magic missiles on a whim is like something out of Mario Kart. Which is not something I necessarily condone. The Dark Arts are not something to be toyed with.
The sound is a creation unto it’s own. I was very pleased to start up the game, and hear one of my all-time favorite techno songs on the main menu. For the life of me, I cannot remember the name of the song, but it’s on my Pandora list, so I know I’ll hear it again. The sound effects are pretty good, with a nice oomph when an explosion occurs, and a variety of engine sounds for the different cars.
The gameplay, as accursed as it is, is rather fun for the first couple dozen races in single player. Then when the shit gets real in multiplayer, that’s when the novelty of shooting people with magic becomes an adventure in psychotic tendencies.
First of all, drifting is impossible. It’s THERE, but you need a certain car to achieve the phenomenon. Cars are broken down into categories of “Grippy”, “Drifty”, and “Balanced”. I was hoping they had a “Slippy” car, modeled after the frog from Starfox, but he was nowhere to be found. But in order to achieve a truly phat drift, one must mash down the E-Brake (Like how it’s done in real-life) to do it. I’ve never had such an un-responsive drifting mechanic though, as you simply cannot control your damned drifts. Too many times, I’ve executed a drift that would have been possible in any Kart game, Split/Second, or even PGR’s 1-3, but in this game it friggin’ defies you by turning you around in the opposite direction and then forcing the self-correction feature, which I can only describe as “God-Awful”, to kick in and teleport you a couple feet in the right direction. By that point though, the damage is done. Split/Second is the king of drifting, with the right controls. But that’s comparing two different studios, and two different publishers. Project Gotham Racing, the game that made Bizarre a household name even has better drifting, and you’re not driving cars specially made for racing, you’re racing with Lamborghinis and vintage cars, cars that were not designed specifically for street racing like the custom jobs Blur uses. The least I can say is at least they got the steering right, with different responses with different cars.
The aforementioned use of demonic energy, AKA “magic”, is kind of fun at first. When you pull a big red fireball out of your ass that homes in on the car ahead of you and tosses it up in the air, an item known as “Shunt”, you kinda get this childish little grin on your face and clap your hands in glee – That is, until you realize you’ve seen it before. Gee, a big red object, that homes in on it’s target and tosses it up in the air/wipes it out…
Maybe I was dreaming of it. Maybe this is a new concept, totally original in every way. I just dont know.
The other abilities, like shooting purple magic missiles and calling down electrical storms on the ground, and even some defensive stuff like a bubble shield and a 360 degree pulse that knocks back other cars called “Barge” are fun to use when given the right opportunity, however, there is no fun in being bounced between a dozen cars a dozen times with Barge like a damned pinball.
See, a lot of you are probably saying to yourself, “This game sounds fun! Why are you picking on it??!”, to which I will give my reasoning:
The weapons are too plentiful. Speed boosts, offensive crap, defensive stuff, etc., are way too plentiful. Plentiful to the point of being oh so exploitable by the myriad players out there (Total current count on the PSN: <500) in the middle of a race. There is nothing more infuriating than fighting tooth and nail to get to first place, and then getting bombarded by Shunts until your car explodes. Or trying to get to first, but being Barged backward constantly, or being peppered by 3 different cars with the magic missiles. I mean Jesus.
No. Not even He has the patience for this game.
And before you say that I am being unfair, I defy you to do better. I am a veteran of the racing genre, beating AI and players alike since the days of Super Mario Kart on the SNES. I have had my ass handed to me by pros, and I have done my fair share of dishing out other people’s slow-roasted asses. Sometimes even char-broiled, a la Full Auto and Twisted Metal. But this game is the aborted result of Mario Kart and Midnight Club 3: DUB Edition’s dubious love making. It takes no skill whatsoever, and anyone who DOES have skill has to be the luckiest sonuvabitch in the world to be able to dodge all of the shit flying around the otherwise gorgeous tracks.
My suggestion? Ditch Blur, and buy Split/Second.
A 2… out of 5.
And while the folks at Penny Arcade might have kind words to say about it, this newfangled comic right here explains my exact sentiments toward the power-ups.
(BLUR, a racing title for the Xbox 360 and the Playstation 3, is created by Bizarre Creations and published by Activision. It is available now for $59.99. The comic strip is by (C) Penny-Arcade(www.penny-arcade.com) 2010.