A little off-topic but isn't it quite a trend lately to release closed multiplayer betas? I think it shows a little sign that the developers lack in confidence.
JourneyThroughHell's impressions on
Blur Multiplayer Beta
Let me start by saying that I don't play Mario Kart. I have never played Mario Kart and, honestly, it doesn't look that fun. I don't even like arcade racers. That's why I am shocked, absolutely and completely, at how much I liked this beta.
Blur is a game in development by the good people at Bizzare Creations, the guys you might know by their excellent Project Gotham Racing title. It is published by Activison and is scheduled to be released in the end of May.
First of all, the specifics. It's a multiplayer-only beta and the worst thing I can say about it is that it can be quite difficult to join a game. There are always around 5-7 hundred people online but it may take you a minute or two to join a game.
The gameplay is very similar to the Mario Kart series - there are a lot of cars, rows of power-ups that you can either use to boost your speed, repair or protect your car or, of course, annoy other players. It's a simple concept but it works. It works really well considering how the game has a decent physics engine. The cars control in a way similar to the PGR series. It is extremely easy to drift and even easier to handle the cars at fast speeds.
But let's talk about the really interesting stuff - the power-ups. As of now, there are eight and I guess that number isn't going to change. Among them is a quite usual Nitro power-up which gives your car a short insanely fast boost, a Shield power-up which protects you from attacks and a Repair power-up which restores your health meter. Yes, in Blur all the cars have a health meter which can be deplenished pretty fast. If you lose all your health, it'll tak,e quite a while to respawn, and in a game like Blur every second matters.
Apart from those three, there are attack power-ups. This is where the absolute genius of the game shines through. The list itself is not exactly revolutinary - there is the Shunt (which is a heavy self-navigation type) missile, the Barge (an area effect type of attack that stuns the enemies around you), the Bolts (an array of three projectiles you can use one at a time which slow down other racers), the Shock (a wonderful powerup which creates electricity obstacles in front of the leader!!!) and our usual Mine (no explanation needed, I guess).
I'm quite sure that most of these have their counterparts in Mario Kart but they're perfectly balanced and never give an unfair advantage to the player using them. The fact that you can hold three power-ups at a time and cycle through them makes for a surprsingly deep racer with a lot of tactics involved. Should you use your Shield now and pick up a Repair? Should you drop the Bolts in order to pick up a Shunt? These are the questions you'll have to answer constantly and these are the questions you'll have to answer fast.
Here's another fun part. The game is really fluent with its power-ups. Even if you're currently at the first place, you can direct your Shunt or Bolt rockets backwards. If you're being followed by a Shunt, you can dodge it, which is really fun, or you can blast it by sending your Bolts backwards. Again, I admire the fact that the developers came up with a great control scheme which is easy to learn but (reviewer cliche) hard to master.
As far as I've been playing (Rank 8), there are two game modes. One of them is 2-10 players and the second one is 4-20. As you understand, the 10 player one is more about tactics while its counterpart is absolute fucking mayhem! That mayhem is never overwhelming, though, and makes for a pulse-pounding, adrenaline-filled experience.
The biggest surprise came to me in the way the multiplayer was set up. You level-up by gaining Fans (usual XP) which you get by participating in races, using power-ups successfully and... completing challenges. Yes, the game has a challenge system which is an absolute copy of the one in Call Of Duty (same publisher, I guess). This adds tons of replay value (I assume) and encourages you to experiment with different power-ups. By earning Fans, you unlock new cars and
perks aaah I mean, mods. The multiplayer setup is very reminiscent of CoD in general and it is definitely a plus.
As for the graphics, they're very Need For Speed-like. They're stylish and, while not my cup of tea, look really really great. The tracks are nicely both in the driving style and in the looks which is really nice for an NFS-style racer.
So, that's the Blur beta, one of the rare cases when I can say just by playing the demo that this is going to be a fantastic game. It already is. If you have the beta key and haven't redeemed it yet, do it. Now. I'll wait.
JourneyThroughHell is a Russian gamer and amateur video game reviewer who totally didn't still this thing from the site he's currently on.
He's really angry about the layoffs at Infinity Ward. Just thought you should know.