Would you watch a show where people risk their lives for money and image? A show that’s so filled with adrenaline that it urges you to act recklessly? A convincing “Yes” over here! The TV show Split/Second: Velocity puts the lives of a couple of drivers on the line during twelve seasons while they drive against each other in something that can only be seen as street racing on steroids.
Disney and the guys behind the 2008 racing game Pure, Black Rock Studio, have unleashed a new racer onto the market. Split/Second is an arcade game with an appetite for destruction. Expect the complete opposite of games like Gran Turismo and Forza Motorsport. By means of Power Plays you can blow other racers from the road, have choppers fire off rockets, explode gas tanks and have massive buildings collapse like an English pudding.
Before you can do a Power Play you need to fill one of the three bars. This can be done by drifting, drafting, getting airtime or evade Power Plays from your opponents. After filling a bar you can fire one yourself but if you keep filling until all three are full you get rewarded with an extra big Power Play which is capable of drastically changing the entire track. There are for instance races where an aircraft carrier gets blown up, a plane crashes on a landing strip, or a traffic tower explodes. Unfortunately this is immediately where we find the biggest problem of the game. Split/Second only has 11 tracks and after a couple of races you’ll have memorised the dangerous obstacles and will be able to finish the race almost with your eyes closed.
Each season contains a couple of different modes. In total there are six racing types going from a normal one over Eliminator and Air Strike to Air Revenge, Survival and Detonator. Especially Survival races where trucks drop red and blue tons which you need to avoid as long as possible is fun. also Air Strike and Air Revenge bring the necessary variety. In the first you need to avoid waves of rockets while the latter needs you to take down a chopper by means of the Power Plays. While the game varies enough with its modes, the opposite is true when it comes to the cars. Only two different kinds can be chosen: the standard racing car and the truck which is a bit stronger but also slower.
Next to your career as TV star you can also show off your skills online. Here things are quite the same as offline with as only different the human component. And that’s exactly what makes the game a bit more fun. People are less predictable and have better control over their vehicles which makes online racing quite a bit more spicy. The leaderboards are also fun and can be somewhat followed in-game by means of stickers on your ride. As starter you get number 99 and the more you win races, the lower that number becomes.
There’s a big struggle in the land of graphics as while the locations look awesome, one can hardly say the same about the cars. They look uninspired, all drive the same and crash horribly ugly! The tracks on the other hand are original, beautifully made and varied. For a game that is so centered around explosions sound is very important so it’s good to see the special effects are convincing, the crashes echo and explosions don’t sound like firecrackers. The soundtrack is so-so with typical adrenaline-pumping tunes.
Split/Second is a racing game but sadly enough the emphasis is too much on the big explosions and Power Plays instead of the real racing. Next to that the lack of tracks quickly results in a feeling of deja vu and the fun gimmick doesn’t remain impressive for long. The different modes are appreciated but the total package could use some filling. This certainly isn’t a bad game, but we would suggest to rent it instead of buying.