Blur Preview: Disco SceneS

When Activision purchased Bizarre Creations, all eyes were on the former Project Gotham Racing developer was going to do next.

While it's no surprise that Bizarre is sticking to racing games, you may be surprised what direction they're taking the genre in.

What Is It?
Bizarre Creations' 2009 arcade racer will be the first game published from the developer by Activision. Developers say they took all of the things that are fun about racing titles and put them into their highly stylized, vehicular combat game. The development team say the game is like Project Gotham Racing, but with all of the elements they like Mario Kart.

What We Saw
I ran two races on two courses of the game in single player

How Far Along Is It?
I played a pre-alpha build of the game.

What Needs Improvement?
Damage Modeling: The damage modeling for the vehicles doesn't really match the aesthetic for the rest of the game. It needs to be in there, but maybe there's another way to present damage.

Courses: The game comes with a ton of courses, but both of the ones I raced on were ovals. I'm sure there will be plenty of non-oval tracks, but since I haven't seen them yet it's worth pointing out that there really needs to be.

What Should Stay The Same?
New Look: When I saw the game last month it looked pretty bland. I liked the ideas behind the game, and I liked the pedigree of the developers, but visually there was very little for the game.

Since then the team has been hard at work trying to fix that problem. They added filters to make the game pop, giving the game a bit more sizzle. They also shifted the away from daylight runs. Now drivers race only at night, dusk and dawn. Finally, they've added a bunch of light effects and lights to highlight the dark settings. The result is like racing in a disco... in a good way.

Weapons: Lately, I've lost interest in the racers that lean more toward simulation over, well, over fun. Bizarre Creations gets that and decided the best way to win these gamers back is to add weapons and shields, essentially making the game a more realistic Mario Kart.

When I played the game there were about five weapons available, one that knocked cars aside, pushed them out of your way, stunned them and blew them up with mines. The team said they'll be adding three more or so down the line., but no blue shells.You can hold three weapons at a time and, after you pick them up, you can cycle through them to decide what order to use them in.

Shields: Because they didn't want the weapons to overpower the racing element of the game, Bizarre Creations also added rechargeable shields. Right before getting hit with a weapon the car sounds an alarm giving you a second or so to activate a shield.

You start with four shields. Once you use them you get earn more by attacking other players.

Projected Light Graffiti: The game's user interface is mostly displayed in lights either projected onto the screen, forming a lit heads-up display, or with projected light graffiti. The real world technique applies digital graffiti to buildings until the lights are turned off.

Final Thoughts
Blur's weakest link were it's bland visuals. The new look of the game goes a long way toward solving the problem. At issue now is whether Blur can stand out in an increasingly crowded field of arcade-like racers with a twist.