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Hands-On: The best things come to those who...

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But it'd be na´ve to believe that the studio responsible for five acclaimed racing games would simply kick out a Mario Kart clone.

Blur handles similarly to Project Gotham - if slightly more down the arcade route - and there's plenty of variety between its BMW's, drift cars and Range Rover-alikes.

The most impressive aspect of its controls, though, are the many physics systems going on in the background. The driver count is now up to 20 and PGR's iconic barriers have been removed for that extra destruction factor.

The result is quite simply one of the most intense racing games we've ever played. That first corner pile-up from PGR remains tradition in Blur, only with more cars on the road, firing electricity and black holes at each other while smashing phone boxes ten feet into the air. It's mental.


The boosted driver count also means that in the majority of contests you're always in the thick of the action, getting abused by 19 other drivers who enjoy nothing but Force Pushing you into the side of a building.

Rubber banding is one element of Mario Kart that doesn't seem to have made the transition; drop too far behind and you're going to find it difficult to catch up. Similarly, a skilled player with plenty of defensive power-ups is going to be very difficult to catch.

Blur does a fantastic job of constantly rewarding the player, giving you a virtual pat on the back every time you take out a rival or pull off a skilful backwards Shunt shot into an opponent's windscreen.

This is one of many wise influences seemingly borrowed from the current king of first-person shooters, which we shall not name. In fact Bizarre Creations has clearly been quite inspired by this nameless shooter in the last year, as Blur now includes familiar vehicle perks (called 'Mods'), Challenges and experience points for levelling up and unlocking said goodies.

So yes, for all intents and purposes Blur's multiplayer mode is Call of Duty: Modern Carfare, but the RPG customisation elements work well and we're certainly not complaining.

Between races online players are given 30 seconds in which to customise their motors and Mods. You can use a total of three Mods at once ranging from the defensive (less damage from collisions), offensive (receive a free Nitro for performing a super drift) and all-round useful (a Predator Cloak for your car - excellent in the destruction derby-esque Motor Mash mode).

Though we didn't get to try many of these out in our hands-on, one Mod that proved to be particularly useful was a laser sight for your rear-view mirror - perfect for backwards Shunt blasts. The ability to drop decoy power-ups and convert weapon impacts into health are equally useful.


At this stage Bizarre's attempt at "making racing games fun again" is finally living up to its mission in-game then, and off the racetrack - in community, rewards and customisation - it's looking even better.

But these are just the biggest of Blur's promising changes and cuts. We haven't even mentioned the excellent four-player split screen mode, ability to send solo challenges to other players via Xbox Live, PSN or even social networks, and more.

2009's Blur lived up to its name; a confused, unclear mashing together of disparate elements.

By contrast, 2010's version is slick, focused and smartly edited. Oh, and a huge amount of fun.

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