The realistic visuals and accurately modeled cars may lead you to believe that Blur is an action racing game in the Burnout mould, but this title from Bizarre Creations actually has more in common with Nintendo's iconic Mario Kart series.

I was a bit of a latecomer to the Mario Kart series, having skipped the original Super Nintendo release, but I played the N64 version with friends and family for what must have amounted to hundreds of hours. The venerable franchise is, without a doubt, the preeminent cart-racing entity, and over the years many companies have attempted to duplicate Nintendo’s success with middling results.

None of these copycat games managed to capture the magic and fun of the original, but of the ones I’ve played so far, Blur, created by Bizarre Creations (the racing veterens behind the Project Gotham Racing series), has come the closest. It offers a more realistic visual style as well as well balanced vehicle combat and an online multiplayer system that’s strangely analogous to the experience offered by Modern Warfare.

It might not steal the “powered-up racing” throne from Mario Kart, but Blur’s considerable multiplayer potential makes it an entertaining title that offers its own brand of competitive racing.

Blur relies heavily on Mario Kart-style power ups to fuel its racing. Five unique weapons, a shield, a repair tool, and a nitro boost pickup are placed at specific spots along the race tracks; all you have to do is drive over the appropriate icon. What makes these items interesting is their flexibility; most power ups can be used both offensively and defensively.

The bolt weapon — which looks and sounds oddly like needler shots from Halo — can be thrown ahead to damage opponents, but they can also be fired backwards to block incoming flak from enemies. Unleashing a nitro boost will shoot your car forward unless you hold back on the left stick; this modifies the boost to allow your car to slingshot around tight curves with ease.

Blur

You’re also given three inventory slots which add a nice layer of strategy to the races; a simple button press quickly switches the active power-up, so players can prepare to go on the offensive or defensive at a moment’s notice by collecting a variety of power-ups and managing them properly. Power-ups can be enhanced with mods, which are vehicle enhancements similar to Modern Warfare 2’s perk system.