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Split/Second Review

publisher: Disney Interactive
developer: Black Rock Studio
genre: Racing

ESRB rating: E10+

release date: May 18, 10
» All About Split/Second on ActionTrip

Disney Interactive and Black Rock Studio eagerly push forward with their new racing franchise, Split/Second. Gamers who expect traditional racing events, with typical challenges and circuits might be in for a bit of a surprise. The game adds a very special flavor to the genre of racing games. After so many years, we are excited about witnessing someone who's actually willing to shift the boundaries of a specific genre and move away from conventional gameplay concepts. We've spent plenty of time playing Split/Second on the Xbox 360, both in single-player and multiplayer modes.

There's no story or plot. The whole thing couldn't be any simpler really. Split/Second allows players to participate in a fictional reality TV program where contestants race in flashy cars for cash rewards (naturally). Each event consists of a high-speed chase usually through vast industrial environments such as construction sites, shipyards and such. As you race towards maximum velocity, you'll get a chance to charge the "powerplay" meter by pulling of a variety of stunts. These stunts are mostly stuff like drafting and drifting, jumping, etc. Once the meter is charged, all sorts of opportunities are presented to the driver, from creating obstacles for opposing racers to making handy shortcuts for shorter routes towards the finish line. Every contestant has a fair shot at gaining these racing perks, but to nab them depends greatly on one's driving skills.

Not to put too fine a point on it, Split/Second is, at its core, a classic arcade racing game. The best drivers still get the most points for finishing in the top three spots. However, the races themselves provide a unique twist on the traditional racing formula. Events triggered by gamers can result in massive explosions, huge structures collapsing all over the track and so on. Not only does this create a spectacular atmosphere, but also increases the tension during races, on top of making events a lot more challenging.

The obvious problem with this game is that it relies too much on arcadish style of play, accenting its racing mechanics perhaps a bit more than necessary, while other aspects of the game feel somewhat weak. All the explosions and crashes make for some truly exciting moments. What's also commendable is that in multiplayer each time players will use their skills differently, according to the circumstances naturally. That's all very well, but as soon as you've gone through several hours of play time, you begin to understand that there isn't much beyond these mechanics. It proves to be an enjoyable slice of fast and furious racing through completely chaotic surroundings. On the other hand, the nature of the game is somewhat repetitive, so don't count on spending too much time with it. It's really something to get into with friends, until the excitement wears off and you'll want to move on.

One of my biggest complaints is that Split/Second is basically a racing game keeps hurling you into a number of courses that are stretched across the same 4 environments, which, of course, ads to the games repetitiveness. True enough, as you progress things get more challenging and even more hectic, albeit the basic mechanics remain unchanged. There are also some balancing issues that will happen thanks to the somewhat unpolished AI. For example, a chain of events might cause your car to wind up last in the race and in many situations it's almost impossible to regain the lead. It gets frustrating for an arcade-style racing game, particularly because it occurs quite often. In contrast, it's possible to take the lead and watch opposing drivers suffer the same bad luck on the track, sending them all the way to the last spot.

There's nothing wrong with this game when it comes to sound or visual quality. In the audio department, everything is top-notch, from explosions, engine sounds, to the tires screeching and the intense movie-style music swelling in the background. Each track looks great, with plenty of detail in the background. Car models aren't as detailed in say DiRT 2, but all in all you'll like what you see in this game.

Apart from a few minor AI issues Split/Second is actually an enjoyable game. The hectic gameplay mechanics lead to some pretty engaging racing moments and things get even more exciting when you jump into online multiplayer in modes such as Elimination and Survival. Sometimes you may escape total wreckage by an inch, whether by skillful driving or out of sheer luck. Either way it can be an immensely fun ride.


7.3   Good

A decent arcade racer with flashy cars and high-speed chases through crumbling hazardous environments, cool atmosphere, a rather unique recipe resulting in some really exciting moments, especially in multiplayer;

The formula of Split/Second gets repetitive relatively quickly, so you may not want to stick around for long, minor AI issues.


6 post(s)
Reader Comments
Un Om Bun [STAFF] Jun 10 2010, 07:40 am EDT
All these post-NFSU racing games are essentially the same, except this one has only a handful of tracks + some explosions. I tried it and got bored after 1 race. Cars drive like sleighs, it's impossible to fuck up from lack of skill, only from having shit arbitrarily blown up in your face. It's just a NFS mod with a gimmick.
Vader [STAFF] Jun 10 2010, 07:50 am EDT
Something like that... maybe. I dunno. It's fun in multiplayer. Otherwise, not something you'd want to invest a lot of time in.
DylanDeVille Jun 10 2010, 10:31 am EDT
I hate racing games (except for ReVolt) but I am finding this much more fun the average wheeled wacer.
With friends it really is great for a short burst of swearing and stressing and laughing as you blow them up in weird and wonderful ways (drop a cliff on them, or maybe a building, or perhaps a jumbojet from the sky...)

I understand about the limiting factor too Vader, but I factor that into all racing games, so it is kind of a given.
Vodoo Jun 10 2010, 10:58 am EDT

free beer to whoever remembers.
  DylanDeVille: i will take that beer. That game is still on my HD..…
Ftmch: I'll have a beer aswell, great stuff. Made by Swedes …
izihbo: OH THANK YOU LORD! I've been trying to remember the n…
Vader [STAFF] Jun 10 2010, 11:52 am EDT
Sure man. Remember that one. Used to play that a lot. Especially in multiplayer. The yellow school bus was my favorite :)
  Vodoo: i think i can hear our bones creaking from the rust. …
Vader: Well, that's not too old. Recalling Maniac Mansion no…
Superastic Jun 10 2010, 01:25 pm EDT
Had a lot of fun whit this one in multiplayer. I agree with the score as it get old pretty fast. It's the kind of game where DLC is essential.


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