Game developers have tried time and time again to replicate the cinematic scope of a big-budget testosterone-fueled car movie, some more successfully than others. Cynical gamers might even say the racing genre is over-saturated and declare that throwing money into detailed car models just doesn't cut it anymore. If a studio is going to break into the crowded space they must introduce a unique twist to make an otherwise forgettable IP stand out, and Split/Second aims to do just that.
Is Split/Second a big-budget junker or summer action movie phenomenon?
Split/Second (PlayStation 3 [reviewed], Xbox 360, Windows PC)
Since it was first revealed in March 2009, Black Rock Studio has been hard at work laying down the asphalt, raising sky scrapers and rigging explosives in their fantastic fictional world of Split/Second. Broadcasting in the massive sound studio that houses the metropolis of Split/Second, lives a reality TV show televising players behind the wheel of exotic cars racing in a collection of events all wired and ready to explode remotely by the player's actions, perfect timing and a bit of luck.
Split/Second has all the ingredients when creating the perfect recipe for disaster. The racing aspect takes a comfortable back seat as power-plays are the main focus and will be the deciding factor in triumphant victory or shameful defeat. Performing perfect drifts, drafting behind opponents and surviving near death collisions will boost your power-play meter, granting you the ability to turn the race track into a ticking time bomb where disaster and mayhem are rewarded.
Here's direct video capture of Ferry Warf in Episode 4
Dodging homing missiles raining down from a fully armed Apache helicopter or steering clear from barrels being projected from a big-rig trailer stand out from a collection of the usual time sensitive events and elimination races -- the loud and ridiculous are a welcome change to racing games as it prepares, bakes and cuts it's very own piece of the racing genre pie.
More direct video capture of Survival Mode
Spanning across 72 events in 12 episodes, each one opening and closing with the production quality and style of a reality-tv trailer, Split/Second is guilty of recycling the same handful of environments. Each event may begin and end in various parts of the track with a different toy chest of power-play moments to expose, but one can't help but feel like your beginning to do the same song and dance over and over again, walking the fine line of gimmick versus unique.
Split/Second's foundation may be at times a traditional broken racer, but built upon those layers of bad plumbing and faulty concrete, towers a unique and unbelievable experience that will conquer your visual and audio sensory. The reality-television fiction that is Split/Second delivers a brilliant first season, Disney Interactive Studios has published what is undoubtedly just the beginning of what is sure to be an outgoing series. If you hate racing games, you'll love Split/Second. Don't wait around for the season finale, tune in now.
Score: 9.0 -- Superb (9s are a hallmark of excellence. There may be flaws, but they are negligible and won't cause massive damage to what is a supreme title.)