An explosive entry set to crush the opposition…with a power plant
Though they’ve granted us fresh and innovative driving experiences over the past couple of years, the feeling that the folks at Black Rock Studio are a group of subliminal Greenpeace terrorists has evolved from a slight niggle to a ‘Code Red’ in the back of my mind as of late. First the fresh vibrancy of lush forests and epic mountains featured in Pure brainwashed me into reflecting on my mundane city-going life as a bleak, routine governed, fag stained trek into inevitable suicide with a noose from Lidl. Now that it’s got me by the pearly tear stained eyeballs, in comes Split/Second: Velocity to fuel the hatred in my heart, to stick it to the industrial wasteland of suburbia, all in the name of sport.
Set in a year where economical turmoil can go screw itself and make way for brash entertainment, Split/Second: Velocity takes up the format of a reality TV show with a major difference. A tournament for only the bravest of drivers, each competitor in the games’ ‘Season’ must pick a car that’ll both guarantee victory in the upcoming events, and an effective shield for the concrete rain that’ll inevitably fall upon them. Though each racers primary goal is to pass the finish line first, courses are rigged with bombs that can be initiated by ‘Power plays’. If a rival pulls off a variety of impressive stunts, they can trigger a ‘Power play’ at certain points in the race, ranging from an aerial bomb, to an entire power plant, to a plane falling upon your precious bony head, leaving behind a mess that resembles a Jammie Dodger trampled by a mallet. Of course, with these powers at your disposal, landing in the back of the queue donates opportunities to get some deliciously diabolical revenge of those who have wronged you in the past.
Those who aren’t havoc hungry and store up their ‘Power Plays’ in their cheeks over time can even have the chance to demolish parts of the track, revealing entirely new sections to blitz with both speed and explosions. Though it’s Split/Second’s only major selling point in this era of high octane arcade racers, it’s one that constantly evolves your experience no matter how many times you play, presenting enough butt clenching moments to leave you with a iron clad rear end and leaving the Dualshocks’ vibration feature feeling more abused than the time whe… (Comment removed).
A much needed fresh entry into the world of destructive racing.
Though races, elimination events and time trials take up the majority of the demonic action, a couple of events turn the focus away from demolishing opponents and take a more evasive stand point. The ridiculous ‘Air Strike’ forces you to dodge missiles fired from a helicopter across the road, and the equally epic sequel ‘Air Revenge’ forces you to fire back said rockets at the helicopter. ‘Survival’ pitches you against a series of trucks flinging a bunch of highly explosive barrels in your direction. Although they don’t appear often, the shift from rapid attacks to swift evasion balances your career well as a whole, though more of these sorts of inventive uses of the core mechanic would have been all the more welcome.
Despite the fact that most of it will be lying in ruins upon your wheels, the scenery and locations look impressively spectacular, even when it’s halfway through imploding. Even with all that’s going on, the screen rarely, if ever tears and the framerate remains constant despite the impressive speed, lighting effects and explosions. The soundtrack is also credible for adding to the ‘TV Show’ atmosphere of the game, fitting so well it feels like it’s editing itself around the action.
Although everything looks great, it’s a shame that courses look very similar to each other. Occasionally sections of a certain course will merge with sections of another, and although it provides an interesting mix at times, they’re all repeated throughout the single player season. Some fresh tracks with new Power Plays would have contributed to keeping Split/Second’sheralded moments of surprise constant.
The level of control you have over your vehicles also wavers at times. No matter what car you pick, it’s capabilities of drifting never quite matches what it promises, leaving players skidding all over the place, even when there’s no chaos about to cause it. It’s like you’re an hour into a Herbie film where you have a major disagreement with your car, yet instead of the ending consisting of resolving differences and thrashing the opposition, it finishes with a mass orgy of jagged metal glued together with congealed flesh.
If a newcomer combines this with some unfair Power Play tactics used online, then it can prove to be a frustrating experience. Though online play is generally smooth, Power Plays can, at times, launch you into the air or smack you into an oncoming cloud, even when you’re no where near it.
Despite the few shortcomings which prevent it from knocking Burnout off its throne of vehicular velocity, Split/Second provides a much needed fresh entry into the world of destructive racing. Those looking for a challenging and rewarding title need to look into its in depth career and frantic racing that executives over at Sky could probably learn a thing or two from.
The Bad: Driving mechanics don’t feel refined enough at times, Power Plays can cause some unfair deaths online