Publisher: Disney Interactive
Developer: Black Rock Studios
Release Date: Q1 2010
Do you enjoy racing games but feel that there just aren't enough explosions and carnage to satisfy your primal bloodlust? Think that Burnout is a little too tame and could do with some massive set piece destruction that alters the very layout of the track? Well, Disney and Black Rock, the developers behind last year's Pure, have something for you. Meet Split/Second.
The title takes place in a completely fictional made-for-TV city in which racers compete in a series of reality TV races (or "episodes," as they're known in the game) in hopes of taking the season cup and winning the grand prize. The most impressive thing about the city is that since it was made just for the show, it's rigged to explode in all sorts of impressive and awe-inspiring ways. As players drive aggressively (near misses, drafting, drifting, etc.), they build up the "Power Play" meter, which, once unleashed, allows drivers to set off attacks and mess up their foes. Lower-level Power Plays set off minor attacks, like flipping cars and knocking over roadside hazards, while those who save up for big attacks will be able to bring down entire buildings and even reroute drivers onto entirely new portions of the track. Furthermore, each course has its own signature Power Play, and in the stage we saw (which took place at an airport), the big moment involved players dodging a giant jumbo jet as it made an emergency crash landing on the very runway where they were currently racing. The devs are promising moments like these throughout the experience, thus creating an extremely high-octane adventure.
Since the title is a purely arcade affair, gamers can expect some over-the-top vehicles and lots of cool crashes. While we didn't get to see any of the big moments, Black Rock is promising slow-motion, zoomed cameras and all the other bells and whistles whenever somebody bites it in a particularly big way. Unfortunately, all this carnage won't really be shown off in a gradual nature, as cars don't feature any sort of damage progression, and whenever you completely total your vehicle, it'll simply be replaced on the track with a brand new one.
The team is promising robust multiplayer offerings, but they aren't yet ready to talk specifics. The title lends itself to intense online competition, so here's hoping that option comes through in the final build. While the game promises thrills even when alone, a meaty multiplayer mode would really be what puts it over the top and allows it to compete with major players like Burnout and Need for Speed.
Above all, Split/Second is a full-on assault on the senses, with bright lights, big booms and massive fireballs filling the screen at nearly all times. It'll be impossible to accuse this game of being boring, so it's just a matter of making sure the difficulty is tuned and the Power Plays are balanced so that it manages to stay fun. If you want your racer turned up to 11, Split/Second is the title to watch.
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