Blur Beta – First Impressions

A still from the Blur website.

Blur is a racing game being developed by Bizarre Creations; it will be published by Activision this spring. They gave away beta codes so they could test the multiplayer and see if there are any balancing issues. I received a code and have played through to the level cap in the beta. For an easy summary, the game can be described as Mario Kart plus Project Gotham Racing with Call of Duty influences in the online play.

From the start there are only two modes and a handful of cars to choose from. As you progress, you’ll unlock two additional modes, more cars and modifiers which act like perks from the Call of Duty games. I found little differentiating three of the modes; they were normal races with one for 2-10 players, one for 4-20 players and the third one limited to the fastest class of car. The fourth mode was a battle royale which played like a game of Twisted Metal or a battle in Mario Kart.

The races were fun and there was always a lot going on. I rarely finished in the top three, but even when coming in a lower position the game was exciting just battling it out with the different power ups. The power-ups are creative and not as derivative of Mario Kart as I initially expected. There are around six power ups and most can be used in offensive and defensive ways. You can hold three power ups at a time and cycle through them which allows for unique strategies; I tried to always have a shield on hand just in case. There were a few tracks in the beta and they all had alternate paths which helped in splitting up the sometimes twenty car group. The battle royale mode was nuts; throwing you into an arena left carnage as the only objective. You are ranked according to your points which are received from attacking foes; you are also assigned a rival which will net you bonus points if you attack them.

There were a handful of modifiers available in the beta and there appears to be three sets. One set seemed to net you more fans for your actions, one seemed to affect your defense and the third set seemed offensive. Similar to leveling up weapons in Modern Warfare 2, as you use your power ups in different ways; they’ll level up and unlock rewards. Say you have a shunt which is essentially a homing missile. You could shoot that in front of you and attack someone, or you could save it and when someone shoots one at you, fire it backwards and destroy them both. You also gain fans for using power ups effectively, drifting and finishing. Fans represent your overall level which allows you access to different modes and more. Regardless there will be plenty of unlockables to keep playing the game a long time after you’ve reached the level cap.

People looking to Blur for a straight up racing game might be disappointed. There are a few good ways to progress in the game and strictly trying to finish in top positions looks to be the hardest and least fun. There will be modes that don’t have power ups in the retail game but those won’t be the draw I presume. The element of luck in the game is heavy and will provide for a fun online racing experience. Frankly, I could see getting this game and never touching the single player.

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