If you're an obsessive trophy hunter then this may all sound like cherry pie, but it's hard to escape the feeling that career mode is now simply a training ground for the rampant frolics of multiplayer. We've already heard about Bizarre's quirks and innovations for the online game – the perks system, the hugely customisable rule sets, and the curious support from Twitter and other Web Socialite 2.0 gubbins. There's also the customisable Challenge system, the mechanic that lets you slap your mates about the face with a virtual gauntlet: if you've finished the Hackney checkpoint race in a particular time, why not ask Blind Murray if he can do it quicker, in a worse car, and without the aid of turbo power-ups? It won't even matter if Murray is a cheapskate with a Silver LIVE account – he'll still be able to take up your dare. And what's more, he'll probably lose. Because he has no eyes.
Blur's career mode may seem a bit straightforward when compared to these fresh ideas, but given how chaotic the multiplayer events can be, it may end up being the best place to learn the game's ropes. That's not to say that the AI will give you an easy ride of it: even on the lowest difficulty setting, there's still a clear need for solid racing skills. Make no mistake, you'll definitely need to master the game's flashy and highly destructive power-ups, too – but if you drive like your nan on her way to the bingo hall, you'll never get anywhere. By the time you've unlocked all the vehicles you'll have a choice of 20 different motors in any given race, from grippy little coupés to power-sliding beasts like the Dodge Challenger – a car that seems to have a suicidal mind of its own, like Herbie after too much Joy Division.
In short, this is still very much a racer at heart. And while each of the power-ups have the potential to send you crashing out of first place, all of them – from the black hole-like Mines to Shunt, a huge ball of energy that rolls tears down the track – have a way of being avoided or countered. This isn't Mario Kart, and there's no dreaded Blue Shell; even Shock, which dumps three blue pillars of static death in front of the leading driver, can be steered around if you have the skill and awareness.
And while these WipEout-like weapons may well be a far cry from the sobriety of Project Gotham, there's a similar air of stylish self-confidence in the game's presentation. Power-ups or no power-ups, a new Bizarre Creations title is a major event for any racing fan. Have the Scousers done enough to win over the nay-sayers? On May 28, we'll find out for sure.
Blur will be released on Xbox 360, PS3 and PC on May 28.