At its core, Split/Second
is a racing game. What is unique about this racing game, however, is the action. By having the game based on a TV series, Black Rock Studios set themselves up to milk everything that is glamorous about Hollywood: fancy computer graphics and a ton of money to spoil your set with. It allows for just the kind of over-the-top danger and explosions that you would expect from a television show.
The set you play on is rigged with explosives of small to large variety. They can effect your track in a small magnitude - such as leaving rubble on the street - to a much larger one of a building smashing down and completely changing the course of the track. At every corner you turn on the tracks provided in Split/Second, there is the potential for major destruction and the threat of crashing violently. Better yet: drifting, drafting, jumping, and coming into close encounters will fill your power play bar allowing you to trigger these explosions on others and watch them crash violently in slow motion while you race past the flames.
Triggering a power play is not as simple as pressing the appropriate button. Well, technically it is as simple as that. Triggering one effectively, however, is another story. As you race around the tracks and get a hang for both the course and the placement of power plays, you'll learn which power plays conduct what kind of explosions and be able to use that knowledge to your advantage.
So, eventually you will recognize that a hovering helicopter can be triggered to have an explosive barrel drop down at the opportune moment. You'll discover that power plays located around corners are usually explosions that - if triggered at the appropriate time - can send an opponent slamming into the neighboring wall. Some power plays are short cuts, and others will completely destroy parts of the track to create a new pathway. Each track is littered with power plays like these, waiting to destruct or change the track even further. It makes every race a unique one.
This action is the main appeal to Split/Second. It's intense, and requires vigorous training from the gamer to hone their skills so that a slight waver of the thumb on the joystick can respond to the sudden swinging wrecking ball coming towards the windshield. Behind the scenes, however, Split/Second provides so much more. Multiplayer is obviously a given. Even my assumption that playing on the PlayStation 3 would provide lacking volumes of competition was debunked. What I found to be most intriguing and innovative on behalf of the developing team at Black Rock, however, was how versatile and equally addictive the other gameplay modes proved to be. They weren't just fillers for the $60 price tag; they were game modes I consistently wanted to play.
There are a series of episodes in each season that you must make progress through in order to qualify for the subsequent seasons. Each episode filters though a different game mode, maintaining the competitive feel in the racing aspect of the game. I love racing games, but I have to admit that the same song and dance gets boring after some time. Black Rock figured out an easy and yet innovative way to solve that issue: diverse gameplay. Each mode is just as appealing as the next.
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