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REVIEW / BlazeRush (PS3)

Think back to the classic top-down racing games of yesteryear, like Super Sprint.  Now imagine it hat bullets flying around everywhere, and make the cars a lot faster.  What you end up with is BlazeRush, a new racing game from developer Targem.

 

BlazeRush   

 

BlazeRush is a frantic game, more so than it might seem.  At the core, it’s a racing game with small courses and a semi-top down view.  Even with just that premise, though, the game is a bit unusual.  You control your car entirely with the joystick, and you can’t brake.  If you want to make tight turns, you need to make them carefully.  During your race to the finish line, though, you will find power-ups. Turbos rather cleverly drop behind the player in 1st place, giving the others a chance to catch up.  Weapons are strewn around everywhere, and while they can’t destroy your opponent’s vehicle, they can blast it off the road.

With the cars skidding around, power-ups all over the place, combat, and small courses, you might think it’s hard to follow the action in BlazeRush. Somehow, though, I never had trouble telling my vehicle apart from the others.  It could be the camera angle, but I can’t say for sure.  Regardless, it is an impressive feat.  It also introduces you to the chaotic elements of the game one by one, through tutorial races that felt more fun than restrictive. The game also has a lot of options.  There are 16 vehicles, and they’re split into three types: normal, flying, and heavy. Each vehicle has slightly different stats, but those three types give the best idea of how a vehicle will drive.  This is an important decision to make, because there’s no time (or way) to be all that careful during a race.  And while there are only three main environments, there are more than enough tracks to keep you happy.

 

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Whatever you choose to do in BlazeRush, you’ll find that it works very well.  The graphics are excellent, especially for the price; the alien landscapes come to life and interact well with the race tracks.  Even when things get frantic, the game runs smoothly, which is no small feat either.  Not that your mind will be on these technical achievements when you’re playing, though.  The races are so fast and so frantic that they really draw you in.  Everything else is just the backdrop for a unique and entertaining racing game.

With BlazeRush, Targem put fun first, and it shows.  That’s mostly a good thing, but there are a few areas that need some polish. The main menu doesn’t clearly spell out “Single Player” and “Multiplayer” which was a bit confusing at first. The map of the career mode is a bit confusing as well; it doesn’t properly illustrate the progression.  It seems too that they went through the trouble of including characters in the game to go with the vehicles, but the characters are almost never used.

 

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Ultimately, while it is a very fun game, BlazeRush can’t hold up to the likes of heavy hitters like Mario Kart or Need for Speed. But for $10 it’s competing against other indie games.  BlazeRush stands out among that competition, then, as a game designed first to be fun.  It’s small, but the developers got a lot into such a miniscule package.

 

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