First Shot: Blur
Fresh off my review for Split/Second, it's time to look at Blur from Bizarre Creations. Honestly, in my first few hours I can't add too much to what I said in my preview of the game. The powerups, which I covered extensively in the preview, are more or less entirely unchanged from the beta. The multiplayer still feels intense and, now that the level cap is removed, feels rewarding to sink tons of hours into. New to me, though, is the single player.
Blur's single player spans nine events, each based around a different "boss" character. Each event has different races to play along with some new modes. Checkpoint is your standard dart-from-checkpoint-to-checkpoint-to-extend-time game mode with the addition of nitro powerups and time extension icons to collect on the road. Destruction is a ton of fun; like Checkpoint there's a persistent countdown timer, but here your goal is to blow up rival cars with bolt powerups (non-lock on forward or backward projectiles). There's a lot to balance here: you only get three shots per powerup, so ammo conservation is important. Manually aiming is always tricky, even more so with the time limit rushing you to get extensions from destroying cars. While it only takes one or two shots to take down a car, they'll often leave a trap as they explode in the form of a mine or a backwards bolt; trying to avoid those without having repair powerups adds even more challenge.
Finally, there's one-on-one races, the boss fights of the game. To access them you must complete the boss' "demands", which are objectives that must be completed in races from that event. They range from straightforward, like wrecking a certain number of vehicles, to flat out arbitrary, like completing "fan requests" during a race or absorbing a certain number of attacks with shields. The latter of these demands can be frustrating; I'm on event 5 and I still haven't unlocked the boss from event 3, since I haven't grinded the number of fan requests I need to unlock the race. The fights themselves are simply a race against the boss where you can either try to beat them to the finish line or wreck their car (no respawns here!); the battles aren't easy, but the rewards are great: you get the boss's car and a unique mod that's basically a "powerup" for a powerup. For example, the first mod buffs the bolt powerup so you get 4 shots instead of 3.
Single player nitpicks aside, Blur's been a blast so far - look for the review later this week!