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He thought of cars.

Dark blue icons of video game controllers on a light blue background
Image credit: Eurogamer

Project Gotham Racing may have long since disappeared into Bizarre Creations' rear-view mirror, but from Blur's first brooding, synth-infused stabs of keyboard - played out as an ice-cool, predatory Audi R8 sits motionless among pulsing light beams - it's clear that while it's gone, it's far from forgotten. Good.

It's a feeling that grows as you learn how Blur works. Event victories earn "lights", with bonus lights handed out for special accomplishments. You earn "fans" for doing cool stuff on the track. Lights unlock new events; fans unlock new cars. You are Bizarre Creations and I claim my five pounds!

Handling is rich and dramatic. Acceleration and drifting are sympathetic enough to correct the rear if you're showing your inexperience, but the relationship between gas, brake, traction and apex remains complex. And it's fast.

Blur is not as supple in some areas as Forza Motorsport 3, mind you - a game where the only way to feel closer to the track surface is to get out of the car and rub your face on the ground - but terrain variation impacts performance and vehicle choice, and there's added novelty as you consider what might work best dancing through waves beneath the legs of the Golden Gate bridge.

Sometimes the world tour is like visiting old friends. Brighton Promenade echoes Project Gotham Racing's love of long, high-speed straights punctuated by awkward shimmies, and San Francisco's Russian Hill is a magnetic assortment of intersections stacked like shelves and tight, right-angle turns - a joy to bounce around in a Ford GT, assuming you can handle it.

Blur's Checkpoint mode. (By the way, I'm not sure who Danica Patrick is, but they can have her back.)

Elsewhere, nobody's saying "racification" any more (perhaps because it sounds like something that happens to fruit left in salt water), but the lines on the ground and scenery still guide your eyes to every apex, except this time it's just as likely to be in a cave or skirting a storm drain.

Some tracks are good for old reasons but enhanced by new ideas. The LA Docks level, for instance, punishes you if you line up your jumps incorrectly, a classic Gotham beat, but also needs you to judge speed and traction carefully or you end up in the water.

And sometimes, tracks are just good. Navigating some of the corner sequences in Barcelona Gracia at speed is heavenly.

At least, it's heavenly until you spot the red warning light at the foot of the screen and hear the matching sound effect, and then the fireball growing wide in your mirror arrives and sends you into an unwanted forward somersault.

Blur has power-ups, then, and there are eight - nitro, mine, shunt, bolt, shield, repair, shock and barge. Of the ones you might struggle to identify, barge emits a pulse that repels other racers, shunt is a red homing attack, and shock deploys a series of electrical vortexes near the race leaders, which sap speed if driven through but can also be avoided.