I recently stumbled on the topic of Car Game Interfaces, and two examples that particularly caught my eye were Blur and Split/Second. Both games use a ‘Bumper UI’, which was really attractive to me.
Placing the UI at the rear bumper seems like such an obvious solution, especially considering that the field of vision in a car racing game is so important. It’s a great use of the limited real estate, and it’s perfectly positioned where the player’s focus is. Not only that, it’s not essential to see the rear bumper anyway, particularly for Blur, which includes a rear view mirror in the game HUD.
Blur uses the Bumper UI for powerups, and displays them in a series of icons. The icons appear in a really attractive neon-like fluorescent colour, so when racing at blistering speeds you know what powerups you have just by knowing the colour coding, and not having to take your eyes off the road to read something. Interestingly, this icon based Bumper UI has inevitably become err… iconic to the brand itself.
Also I really want to mention how much I like the polish on the icons, they look like half eaten cough-lozenges and the ambient glow they leave on the environment is very sexy!
Split/Second on the other hand uses the Bumper UI in a more traditional way. The styling is a classic racing game approach from the radial meters to the classic race car typography. It’s actually good to see these two games side by side. Split/Second is very text heavy in comparison but then again it doesn’t have the peripheral UI that Blur has, all of the information is condensed into the Bumper UI.
Although the Split/Second UI is very attractive, functional and has it’s own merits, my personal preference is for the Blur UI. Racing games like these are often extremely fast paced, and the player is often reacting on instinct and adrenalin, so the text heavy UI that flashes and updates constantly feels slightly distracting. The last thing you want to do is take your eyes off the road even for a err… split second :)
I also love the use of colour as a way to recognise the UI in your peripheral vision rather than having to fully look at it. Such a brilliant way to keep the player’s eyes on the road.
Check out the videos below and see what you guys think…