It’s been awhile since we’ve seen a breakout hit of arcade racers. Burnout Paradise was pretty much the last of it but we’re about to see that drought come to an end with Split/Second. Disney Interactive and the guys over at Black Rock Studios have come up with a game with enough destruction and chaos to make Burnout quiver in its boots. Does this mean we have a new king of arcade racers, or in the very least give a game like Burnout a run for its money? Yes and no.
Split/Second is essentially a racing game based around the premise of a TV reality show. Each car is marked as a contestant with the environment as the racers weapon of choice. Triggering the areas marked within the course will set off some form of destruction causing vehicles around it to lose control and possibly crash. These are called Power Plays and the more you build upon it, the bigger the amount of destruction that can be caused. Not all the modes allow you to destroy the environment however as Split/Second tries out new things.
Some of the modes consist of Race, Elimination, Air Strike and Survival. Besides the Power Play races, Air Strike and Survival are different modes we haven’t seen in the past. Air Strike will have a helicopter chase you around the track, launching missiles at marked areas, gain points while you try desperately to avoid them. Survival has you race around trying to overtake large trucks for points while it tosses explosive barrels toward you. Each mode offers a good amount of variety and always keeps the action feeling fresh. The game also offers three vehicle options as well that serve a different purpose in races. These cars consist of a muscle car (all rounder), super car (high top speeds but prone to power sliding and power plays) and Trucks (slower but better control and harder to knock out).
The destruction is where Split/Second shines the most. The graphics are gorgeous and actually look similar to early targeted screens of Burnout paradise. Their are no frame rate issues from destruction as it never skips a beat, giving off great effects of debris, sparks and explosions. Lighting is done extremely well and everything has a great amount of detail. Presentation is also a high point as it offers slick menus, stats and game progression. The HUD is placed directly being the car, leaving less clutter on screen to enjoy the atmosphere around you. Being very flashy while creating a clean feel is something that Black Rock has done well, but with all this it seemed to have come with a price.
The controls are actually not a strong suit and in fact can lead to quick frustration. Vehicles never feel like their on the track because of the drifting mechanic in the game. Drifting and power sliding help increase you Power Play bar for attacks but the drifting has issues. Either you vehicle over shoots into a wall every time or remains in a state of drift after a wall collision. Trucks don’t really suffer from this but cars without a level nine drift do. The rubberbanding (AI catch up system) seems to be some of the worst we’ve witnessed in racing games. Crashing after leading in a race with no one behind you can result in coming in 5th within two seconds? The game has plenty of little known issues and by the time you reach the 6-7 episode it becomes more of a chore. You will constantly be left in the dust at the start of a match and if not struggling to knock cars out with power plays just to keep a float. Even with these flaws it manages to be an easy pick up and play game.
Eight player multiplayer can also be found here. Most modes carry over and races start relatively fast. With the destruction that takes place the game keeps up very well as their were no known lag issues. The problem that plagues all arcade racers is that theirs no vehicle upgrading or leveling. This forces players to choose the best 2-3 cars in the line up essentially making all other vehicles made in the game useless.
So is this game better then Burnout? No but it doesn’t need to be. It delivers on the instant fun and new experience of what it brings to the table. Its hard to overlook some of the problems and things that could have been included. Upgrading vehicles, better optimization and for a game that bases itself as a TV Reality Show it would have been nice to see the inclusion of a actual replay system at the end of a race. For its first entry Split/Second does enough to keep us entertained with all its flash, sound effects and pretty explosions. If a sequel is derived of this (and we hope their will be), we can’t wait to see what would be in store next.
[starreviewmulti id=2 tpl=20]
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