Hands-on at E3 / Blur

I hate to take sides between large corporate companies, but I have to agree with EA: Blur isn’t looking so hot. At E3 I got time with the Mario Kart-style racer and was, well… what exactly is the opposite of blown away? The game was evidently pre-alpha and, next to Tony Hawk Ride, was one of only two playable games at their booth. The entire thing lacked any sort of luster or interest which begs the question why Activision would even show it off.

So, aside from apparently not being ready to be shown yet, how does it fair? Well, it needs a crap ton of improvement if it’s going to be interesting because right now its like a bunch of race cars flailing around a track like people having a seizure.

The premise of the game seems to be that real cars should be able to do what karts do in kart racing games. You can drive around a track that looked dull in color and life and sort of resembled the LA sewer system things. Boring doesn’t begin to describe it as I was pretty sure i was in the same place no matter what point on the track I was on. When a bridge showed up I became very excited. That’s a bad track as strike one.

But even a circular track can be a blast as Luigi’s tracks constantly show in Mario Kart where it’s all about how the game races and knocking off your enemy with a red shell. However, the power-ups in Blur don’t seem to make much sense. You’ve got some fireballs and electricity, some of which work close range while others work long range. There are also bananas landmines that cars can drop, but you could never really tell if you’d be hit by something or what the actual penalty for it was. Blur might be a decent game name, but it should not be how everything in the game looks when you need to know what is going on. Strike two is crappy weapon systems.

Finally the driving in the game felt very wrong. If you’re going to make an arcade-type racer then go that way. I don’t want to think about power sliding properly when I need to concentrate on whether I’m going to be hit by some crappy weapon by another confused driver who isn’t really sure about what is going on either. There’s a reason kart racers are kart racers and not real racers, it’s because you don’t want to really race in a serious sense. I applaud the attempt to combine the two, but where it stands now it just hasn’t been executed in a way that would make the result fun to play.

Maybe that’s a bit harsh since I did only see one pre-alpha course, but if they’re going to show off a game on the show floor then they’ve got to give us something. Blur is made by the PGR devs, after all. My suggestion would be to take the game back to the drawing board and revamp everything, or show off the courses that don’t suck, weapons that work well and cars that steer in a fun way. Because right now, the game’s just not fun to play.