When you've rinsed SEGA and Sonic All-Stars Racing to death and Burnout Paradise DLC support has dried up where do you, the fan of arcade racing, go next? When you've mastered each and every racing line in Forza 3 to the point that it's gotten boring, what's next on your racing horizon? Bizarre Creations and Activision are hoping your destination will be Blur, the Project Gotham developer's mash-up of real world vehicles and physics with balls-to-the-wall power-up action.
Gareth Wilson, lead designer on Blur
, told me when I visited Bizarre in Liverpool that the studio looked at the racing landscape and concluded that there's only so much room for simulations in the market – especially five years into this generation's development cycle. What they wanted to do was bring the fun back to racing, with a look back to racers of old, before stellar realism was possible, such as Outrun
. He stressed that the realism in terms of vehicle performance found in Bizarre's past racers hasn't been thrown out – it's just had crazy extras layered on top.
Plenty has been said about Blur
's online multiplayer aspect, so I won't bang on about it. I did, however, get to be among the first to see and experience the game's single-player campaign mode in operation.
So, I'm going to get straight to the good stuff. While I was over at Bizarre, Gareth let us in on a previously-secret little treat called 'Friend Challenges'. It sounds a little bit like a multiplayer mode, but it's not. At least not quite
. In a nutshell, once you've completed a race in the campaign, you can challenge a friend to better your performance. You can do this not only through your online gaming platform of choice, but through social media – we were shown Twitter.
It's not quite so straightforward as simply goading someone into attempting to best your time, either. You've got a wide range of options at your disposal. You could, for example, challenge someone to beat your time using less nitro (speed-up) power-ups than you.
You can also throw in a message for good measure. Cuss words are filtered out in the name of keeping the age rating down, but a little creativity should go a long way in upping the ante of your challenge. The aim, of course, is to ramp up the social aspect of the game beyond the usual online multiplayer. I can see how a well-worded challenge could have me furiously hammering away at the pad...
The campaign is structured into chapters, with each containing a number of races and challenges, with a one-on-one boss race to top it off. That boss will have particular skills, possibly using a particular power-up.