Few companies can claim such domination of the Xbox driving landscape. In pole position at the birth of Xbox Live and responsible for one of the few games to demonstrate the power of the 360 at launch, Bizarre Creations are synonymous with being there first and doing things right.
Having ended their close relationship with Microsoft Game Studios following 2007s meticulously comprehensive Project Gotham Racing 4, their subsequent acquisition by publishing giant Activision has given the Liverpool-based studio some well-earned reflection time as they prepare to take their dominance multi-format.
Ged Talbot, co-Lead Designer on Blur, explains: “After PGR we had a very open map. Activision basically said ‘What do you want to make?’ so we pitched them a few ideas and the action power-up racer seemed to float to the top”. Action here is the operative word – during our time with Bizarre Creations it became clear that they weren’t billing Blur as a racing game, but as an action game.
When broken down to simple video game mathematics, Blur takes everything Bizarre have learned about the grounded arcade racers over the last decade and adds a touch of violent abstract futurism, not unlike the Wipeout series created by Bizarre’s Merseyside neighbours at Sony. Throw in a bewildering set of modification options and some inventive approaches to online networking and you have an intriguing package that has more in common with a multiplayer-focused action title than simply a race for first place.
The successful combination of exotic real-world surroundings and desirable sports cars is once again at the heart of the experience, offering upwards of 30 locations and over 50 vehicles each with their own distinct handling and endurance levels, but it’s the introduction of weapons that changes the entire dynamic. Appearing across the tracks as unmistakable orbs of light, Blur’s eight power-ups present a number of offensive or defensive options. Shunt, barge, bolt and mine provide self-explanatory aggressive options, while shock, nitro, shield, and repair help out the less antagonistic player. Expert knowledge of their application grants players secondary functions such as nitro’s cunningly deceptive air brake, or skilfully firing a bolt backwards to deal with incoming fire.