(Activision for Xbox 360)
By Mike Delano
There’s nothing quite like the first lap in a kart racer. A complete clusterfuck of grinding, bumping, and jockeying while a gaggle of cars blast each other into oblivion, only the grittiest emerge from the moving wreckage to see the open pavement ahead. It’s been a satisfying recipe for chaos since the days of Super Mario Kart, and Blur ably brings the experience to the current generation, minus the karts. This time around, you’re racing and chasing power-ups with real licensed cars and wrestling with a racing game-like weight to the driving (anyone familiar with the developer’s Project Gotham series should have a shorter learning curve). The on-track action is wild, punctuated by the careful selection of power-ups that all feel useful as well as a very stylish overall presentation, including memorable track moments like racing through a moonlit beach as fireworks go off above a neon-drenched carnival in the distance. The single-player is incredibly solid (if also unnecessarily punishing), but Blur really shines online with a polished multiplayer experience that will have you jumping online for upgrades and unlocks with a breathlessness that feels like the first few weeks of Modern Warfare 2 all over again.