If I had to sum up Blur in one line, I'd call it Mario Kart for grownups. It has the offensive and defensive power-ups, but there's nary a cute big-headed character in sight. And instead of goofy little karts, these races are run with a variety of real-world licensed cars that, in a pleasant surprise, show all of the damage that they take during the race. It's pure high-speed arcade racing with weapons, and it's so much fun it makes you wonder why no one has done it before.
The game's single-player campaign features 63 events grouped into tiers each of which is presided over by a rival pro that you'll have to earn the right to face in a one-on-one, no holds barred race. Blur is very much a goal-oriented racer, and those goals are tied to more than simply being the first to cross the finish line. Each event has a number of "lights" to earn which are awarded for finishing in the top three, completing fan challenges, and earning a certain number of fans in each race. You gain fans during a race by taking out other racers, maintaining a lead, drifting, jumping, and similar race actions, so you can think of fans as style points awarded for your racing skills. Your total number of fans accumulates between races and this total is used to determine your overall racing level, and reaching a new level means new cars become available to you for the races. The total lights earned from the races determine which tiers of events are unlocked for play, and once a tier is unlocked you can compete in any event in it in any order, and you can revisit events at any time you'd like.
Earning the right to compete in one of the tiers' rival events is more than a matter of fans and lights, though. Each rival racer has a checklist of goals that you must accomplish before they'll face you, and these lists reflect each racer's personality. For example, one is a fan of aggressive racing so your goals will be tied to taking out other racers while another is a show-off, so the goals are tied to earning fans. If you manage to beat a rival you take their car and can use it in other races. There are also achievement-based goals that each have a number of requirements that must be met in order to earn them, and your progress towards all of them can be easily tracked within the game. And if all of that wasn't enough motivation to keep playing, you can name your friends that also own the game as rivals, and the person with the best performance in an event will "own" that event and have his or her gamer pic displayed alongside it. You're not going to just sit back and do nothing after your friend took an event away from you, are you?
The events themselves fall into three categories – race, checkpoint, and demolition events. Races are just that; races against nineteen other competitors with the goal of being the first to cross the finish line. Checkpoint events challenge you to complete a course within a set amount of time, and each time you pass through a checkpoint you're given a time extension. If you complete the course the number of lights you earn is based on how much remaining time you have left. Lastly demolition races have you trying to eliminate as many competitors as possible within the time limit using only bolt power-ups. The event types are pretty limited and you'll find yourself wishing there was more variety to them, but there's a good amount of variety to the tracks to keep things interesting.