You Could Argue that for many, driving games are speeding off in the wrong direction, becoming weighty simulations that leave casual racing fans coughing in their exhaust fumes. Certainly it's true that, for the uninitiated, the likes of GTR are nigh-on impossible to approach, but Blur promises, at the least, accessibility. And not that rubbish sort that translates to "giant arrows on everything, and only three tracks", but the good sort.
Blur's not alone, of course. There are games like Burnout Paradise on PC right now that prove pick-up-and-play arcade racers can be deep, complex and contentrich. Further afield, and far from the GRIDs and DiRTs of the world, you'll find what appears to be Blur's primary influence: bloody Mario Kart.
Bizarre Creations are best known for the Project Gotham Racing series, starting with Metropolis Street Racer on the Sega Dreamcast (incidentally, the only game in the series I've played) and now residing with Project Gotham Racing 4 on the Xbox 360. They're all excellent games, which is why Blur will have a lot of warranted attention paid to it over coming months.
The Mario Kart influence sees Bizarre Creations adding power-ups to their racing formula, along with their trademark detailed tracks set in real cities on authentic roads. Where PGR4 had you racing through a spectacularly realised Westminster, around the filthy box of arsehole fraudsters that is the House of Commons, Blur will instead give us Hackney, the loveable-if-ragged borough of London.
What we saw of it was warmly familiar, and at times recognisable, but instead of the unflinchingly accurate routes of previous games, Bizarre have decided to tweak some roads simply to make the track flow better. Nothing major - a lowered kerb here, a roundabout removed there - but just enough to ensure you're not hamstrung by reality. Hackney, it seems, inflicts enough despair as it is.
The power-ups include abilities like Shunt, a forward firing blast of energy; Barge, a sideways firing blast of energy; Shock, a jolt of lightning on a chosen nearby opponent; Nitro, a temporary speed boost; and Mines, which are mines. They're down to earth enough to keep Blur k from feeling like Wacky I Races, and they seem I complementary to the racing mechanic rather than being at the core of it but they'll be what folks notice most considering Bizarre's grounding in realistic racers.
The developers are also working hard on the game's front-end, implementing a hugely customisable social networking system. Inspired by how fans played online with PGR4 - in particular an entirely unsupported, player-invented game mode called Cat and Mouse - Bizarre now allow players to create playlists of tracks, each track with its own rules. These playlists, called groups, are publicly available, with the best floating to the top of Blur's front page and becoming super mega popular. That means the PGR fans who'll baulk at the idea of power-ups, can turn the things off. There'll be groups that take the car count down from the bustling default of 20 on track to the sixes and sevens of reality, strip out the ridiculous power-ups and choose only urban tracks from real locations. They could, in theory, turn Blur back into PGR.
Clearly, Bizarre would rather those people be sold on the basic idea of Blur in the first place. That of a game dropping out of the realism race and concentrating on what makes a racer fun to play. This isn't a game where spinning out on the first corner has you spending 10 laps stealing seconds back, it's a game where you'll constantly be battered from all sides by magical shockwaves, arcs of lightning and pixie road mines.
In Bizarre's words it's a halfway-point between PGR and Mario Kart. We can only hope Blur's not lost in that gulf.
Processor: PC compatible,
OS: Windows 9x, Windows 2000 Windows XP, Vista, Win 7, Win 8, Win 10.
Game Features:Single game mode