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Split/Second PS3 Review - -

Gameplay 10
Graphics 9.5
Sound 9.0
Value 10
Distributor: THQ
Review Date:
June 2010
Andrew Bistak


Split/Second: Velocity

Wow! This is the breath of fresh air that I needed in 2010 and with so many car games being released and yet to be released this year, I wanted something like a popcorn movie experience... fast, fun and friggin' awesome! This was THAT game!

From the creators of PURE, probably one of the most underrated off-road games of 2008, Black Rock Studios bring us Split/Second, a high speed car game that uses environmental triggers to knock your racing competitors into millions of pieces as you whiz on by.

The game is reminiscent of a variety of titles that include Burnout, Mario Karts and more recently Blur but in my books, this game is far superior due to the uniqueness of environmental triggers as opposed to traditional powerups in kart games that include shields, missiles and the like.

These environmental triggers are called power plays that basically has the world that you race in linked to high explosives and other dangerous traps. In order to successfully use these power plays, some timing is involved because there's no point in pressing it when you opponent is just out of the way.  Although at its core, Split/Second is an apt racing game, the inclusion of using jumps, drifts and drafts to boost up your trigger meter makes for a thoroughly enjoyable racing experience that will definitely get your pulse pumping.

By building up your power-play meter and at certain points in the race, the game will prompt you to engage in one of your power plays which may include a bus exploding, a crane moving its giant ball on the road or my favourite, a Titanic like ship in the dry docks sliding its way onto the road, knocking out all your opponents.

I was quite amazed at how interactive the environment is but best of all, this works both ways and you need to pay attention to what you are racing by because these triggered events can also impede on your race position. Apart from making life hell to your racing opponents, they can also be used to activate shortcuts such as opening garage doors or lowering ramps for you to drive on. Pretty damn sweet if you ask me!

In terms of a solo experience, the game features a great single-player mode that allows the player to engage in a season of the "popular" reality TV series called Split/Second. Just imagine if you had an unlimited budget, you could create the most outrageous racing environments ever from 21st century utopian cities to airports and constructions sites, ensuring that the racer cannot rest on their laurels, not knowing what is around the corner. These episodes, 12 to be precise are presented as a TV series with slick introductions but the crux of the matter is the variety of different modes available to you, the racer.

These include traditional races to elimination or my two favourites, survival and detonation. For example in Survival, one race may require you to pass as many trucks as possible in order to become number one, however these trucks have explosive barrels falling from them. Sometimes it's easier said than done. Whereas Detonation has your racing environment blowing up around you as buildings topple and planes come crashing down. The goal is simple, avoid it all... HA! By ranking in the top 3 of your events, this unlocks new tracks, gameplays and vehicles. All in all, there are around 72 challenges to compete in.

Also, for competing each race, you are awarded credits which can then be used to unlock additional cars and decals. Each of the cars that you drive have their own pros and cons such as speed, drifting ability or strength and you need to experiment which vehicle will work in the particular gameplay mode that you have selected.

The control system works well on the DualShock controller with the shoulder buttons used to accelerate and drift/break, the left analog stick to steer and finally the d-pad used to activate the power plays, change views and most importantly look behind you because you really need to see who is challenging you.

I'm really trying to think of a flaw for this game but I just can't and even though it is frustrating to get knocked from spot 1 to spot 5 because of a stupid crash or failing to observe an upcoming environmental trigger, the game is just too enjoyable. Some may call this a negative but in my opinion, it is user error, rather than flawed gameplay.

If you do crash or become victim to one of the environmental triggers, depending on what position you are in or how many seconds ahead you are, you generally go back four or five cars that is still usually enough to make up some time, unless it's the final lap.

Apart from a very cool season mode, Split/Second supports a Quick Play option but you need to complete the Seasons mode to unlock new tracks and cars. My favourite is a great two player split screen option that had me reminiscing to Burnout but for me, I want more explosions and crashes and this game gave me just that. Lastly, we have an online mode that allows you to compete in all the gameplay modes from single-player but online with up to 8 players.

For me, this game reminds me of those classic arcade racing games that never took themselves too seriously such as Outrun or some other outrageous SEGA game. However, the graphics are truly a treat on the PS3 with some stunning attention to detail. The cars feature your traditional reflective surfaces and high polygon count but it's the environments with their big budget Hollywood blockbuster sets that had me shaking my head in amazement. The lighting in the game is first class as are the huge Hollywood style of explosions and animated triggered events that me wooing like a kid. Oh Damn... I'm a woo boy!

Audio plays a big part to the gameplay and I do suggest that you invest in a surround sound system to truly appreciate this title. The developers make use of this aspect, especially when the environmental triggers have been let loose as buildings fall down or you crash at ridiculously high speeds and then your vehicle smashes into a thousand pieces. The musical score is quite dynamic and does changes with the action in the game, just like you would expect from a Hollywood movie of a similar genre. The only thing this game does not have is actual crash damage while you race and your pretty much indestructible.

Final Thoughts

Just imagine every bad Hollywood car movie slammed into one game and that game is Split/Second. With thoroughly entertaining driving mechanics, the highlight of Split/Second are the power plays or environmental triggers that truly make this game bigger than Ben Herr when it comes to huge Hollywood style explosions and stunts. Enough yabbering... this game is AWESOME!


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