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Ghost Canyon

Game Reviews
By: Bizarre Creations
(Xbox360 / ASIN: B002AQNT14 / Rated: E 10+ / $59.99)

Features: Power-up racer built on a platform using real licensed vehicles rather traditional cartoony carts. Get behind the wheel of more than 53 photo-realistic cars/trucks with an advanced damage system. Games features a unique point system called ďFansĒ rewarding players with access to more vehicles, paint customization, mods, and vehicle upgrades by completing several challenges that range from the really easy to the insanely tricky. Multiplayer features 4-player split-screen locally or up to 20 players online. Multiplayer offers team based racing experiences as well.

Description: An authentic car racing simulator mixed with the arcade action of kart racing power-ups. Race to the finish line while destroying your appoints at the same time. Battle your way across the planet in locations like New York, Barcelona, Tokyo, L.A. and beyond. Players must strategically find a way offensively and defensively to win each event. Utilize an arsenal of 8 unique power-ups like Nitro, speed boosts, Shock attacks, defensive Shields, and Mines to name a few. Choose from several game modes and mini games in single career mode and online multiplayer action.

Verdict: This is the first release for Bizarre Creations since falling under the Activision umbrella. Bizarre Creations is known for making quality racers from its previous 4 Gotham Racing games. Being a fan of their previous series I was really looking forward to what Bizarre had up its virtual sleeves for a new racing Intellectual Property.

It appears the studio was looking to create a new racing experience rather than just produce another Project Gotham sequel with a new name. The concept seems simple and can almost easily be described as Mario Kart on steroids. Add a large garage of HD graphically enhanced licensed vehicles, real life locations, and then create chaos on the race track with power-ups like Shock lightning, Shunt homing missiles, Barge bumper blasts, Mines, energy Bolts, Nitro boosts, Shields for protection, and Repair kits that can be used offensively or defensively to win each race. Even the marketing campaign that ran to promote this game would suggest the same.

While playing multiplayer I was pleased to find there was much more to it than this a simple mix-match of two types of games. There was a third concept thrown in the mix similar to another Activision property, Call of Duty that really creates that sort of incentive to play multiplayer a lot to unlock all the potential of this game. Blurís multiplayer has a ranking system to show player progression and unlock more vehicles, mods, and challenges similar to Call of Duty making it very addictive to play over and over again to unlock more stuff. Mods are powerful upgrades that can really change the users experience and give them an edge over their competition with the right combination.

Users are able to apply 3 mods to their vehicles with abilities like Ram Boost, Health Both, Free Power-Ups upon start of game to name a few. The Car Upgrades really add a new element I havenít seen before in a racing power-up game.

I enjoyed unlocking these perks as I progressed through the multiplayer ranks even though I didnít always have to win the race. Blur multiplayer also features Legend Mode (Prestige) where players that reach the rank o 50 can reset their rank down to 1 again and reset all the challenges and mod.

Unfortunately what makes the multiplayer experience fun doesnít completely translate as well into the single player experience. It almost feels through single player was an afterthought. In the single player career mode you must battle your way to the top through the gameís 9 bosses. There are three unique event types under each boss: racing, checkpoint, and destruction. Each boss has a series of challenges and race events that you must complete in order to face them one-on-one. Itís a nice training ground somewhat for the multiplayer experience but it falls a little short with some of the mini game challenges. To clear each event the game sets up a lights system rewarding players that place in the top 3 get so many lights.

Players also had the ability to earn more lights based on earning designated amount of fan points and completing a mini gate racing game would be thrown in the mix. To reach each boss players must complete a series of challenges that fit the play style of that particular boss. At time it really works to differentiate itself the from the multiplayer but more often felt overwhelming being fed that much action going on at one time.

Not surprising Blur is graphically stellar. The cars look slick, animations are smooth and colors pop in every direction. I was thoroughly impressed with the little details imbedded in all the maps featured in this game. Each map was realistic and engaging to the eye. I was particularly blown away by the background fireworks on the Brighton maps which are set at night along beach coastline one side and amusement park on the other. You could see the reflections of the fireworks in the water. These little details really separate Blur from the cartoon cart racing games it was inspired by.

Blur does not disappoint when it comes to sound quality and the gameís soundtrack. The effects and ambiance noises are spot on with this title. The game offers an excellent licensed sound track with a variety of music types that meld well with this game. From the beginning the game loads up with ďSmile?Ē by the Crystal Method. A haunting and bassy trance track to navigate the menu options through. Additionally select choice play in the background of races that give the game a real pulse. I would be pleased to find a release for this gameís soundtrack.

Overall I found this title to be a great game to pick up and play with a group of friends or for a quick solo run. It definitely works better in the multiplayer game modes. I like the large selections of vehicle to choose from, customizing mods, and various in-game challenges to rank up. Unlike in Mario Kart the power-ups are more balanced in blur and require some more strategy behind how a player uses them since you can hold up to 3 of them at a time and rop them if you donít want them. I admit Blur can get frustrating and seem almost like luck sometimes with the race outcomes but it really does not take away from the fun factor. The game is a blast and designed for all player levels.

Reviewed by: Ken Tebo