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Blur's combat racing is reminiscent of Wipeout with a lot more bite. The ever-present unsettling moment of collision turns what could have been a lightweight kart racer into something much more gnawing and gnarly.
I've been in a car accident and there is a very particular sensation attached to the moments before impact, the realisation that the next few seconds could be the end. Strangely, the sensation was not one of panic. My mind was clear and making a cold calculated assessment of the situation and what it could mean, a very real game over.
It is this moment of clarity followed by a sudden rush of adrenaline, excitement and fear that Blur reawakening in me.
Cruising around Blur's real world induces a constant sense of tension. It's nervousness that stems from the knowledge that at any moment I could be wiped from the track in a sea of explosions and sparks.
Every car I see approaching feels not dissimilar to the moment of my accident - a calm calculated realisation that it has a weapon that could destroy me. Moments later, I'll be either spinning through the air or I will have successfully evaded my attacker.
It's a strange mix of real racing and combat. In a normal arcade racer jockeying for position in a tiny Lotus would be worrying enough against the hulking mass of a Land Rover, but the addition of power ups adds a very different pressure, and the need to incorporate a variety of alternate strategies.
I've been in a car accident and there is a very particular sensation attached to the moments before impact.
Hurtling around the track constantly managing not only my speed and line, but also my supply of weapons and health is an intense experience. Power-ups zip past at alarming speed as I force my car, sliding sideways, into a corner with no regard for the other traffic that litters the track.
Gripping the controller, with more power than is strictly necessary, my hands begin to moisten as the adrenaline raises my pulse. Slowly, as I put some distance between my own car and second place, I begin to relax. Looking at the clock I realise I have spent the last four minutes in this heightened state and inching ever closer to the screen.
The race ends and, exhausted, I lower myself back on to the sofa. I realise that the three companions I have been playing split-screen with are in the same position, leant towards the television with our arms unnaturally out stretched in front of us. It is a peculiar sight.
Our choice of car leads to a variety of tactics. My own, a Lotus, was tuned for racing and had me focusing on the best line through corners, avoiding collisions and shunning aggressive collectibles in favour of shields and energy. Other more burly machines encouraged routes over rougher terrain, barging and amassing offensive weaponry. Tracks reflect these possible strategies, with each playing to different cars strengths, allowing players to suggest the best vehicle to support their play style in a give scenario.
Even without combat Blur would be a challenging racer, but the power-up system adds a whole new level to the tension. Strangely though, like my car-crash moment, it's a tension that brings with it clarity.
The balance between racing and fighting is spacious enough for players to win by their natural tactics.
The balance between racing and fighting is spacious enough for players to win by their natural tactics. In fact, it's only as they progress and tailor their abilities - Call of Duty style - that the multiplayer experience really takes shape.
Blur brings a level of real racing and consistency to combat racing, and by doing so quietly creates something unique and intriguing.
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