Split/Second is everything you could want in an arcade racer plus EXPLOSIONS!!! Make sure you play some multi-player...
Split/Second is everything you could want in an arcade racer! Simple controls, excellent graphics, and fairly intelligent AI racers make this game a must have for adrenalin junkies and Mario Kart lovers over age 17. The premise is simple...A TV show called "Split/Second" is looking for new competitors, and you have been selected...advance through the ranks, win cars, unlock stickers, and gain achievements.
The tempo of the game is spot-on, with the entry levels bringing you painlessly up to speed. Experienced MKart and N4S players will have no problem with the first set of levels, but progression get tougher, making it more difficult to get 1st place in every stage/every level the further you get into the game. Online play works flawlessly, and playing against on-level players is a total blast.
Tactics for a majority of the game are simple...If players are in the lead, they have to keep the peddle-to-the-metal. If they are not in the lead, they should maintain as much speed as possible while drifting around corners or drafting other players cars in order to gain power; filling the power meter with a 'bar' allows one to trigger explosions. Players may carry up to three full bars at once, allowing them to either trigger an explosion for each, or execute a track-altering demolition event by using all three at once. Minor explosions are used to take out competitors allowing one to advance in the race, but the track-altering events reveal new roads, hidden explosions, and some rather surprising obstacles. On the first race players zip around a mock airport, should they detonate the Control Tower, it crashes down (sometimes on unsuspecting players) changing the course of the race..a side effect of this is that a large cargo plane careens into the taxiway you are racing on, forcing you to dodge it ant the debris trail in its wake. It is over the top, and PERFECT for the game.
The solid gameplay is marred by minor issues in the UI, lack of achievements, and graphics settings for nVidia 3D. While the game does support the XB360 controller, it does not tell you what button to push when navigating the menus...instead the keyboard equivalent is displayed leaving you to either memorize the corresponding key-maps, or use the keyboard. Achievement junkies should buy the XB360, since the PC version doesn't really track achievements, which is the only major flaw I observed in this version of the game; had this been a Games for Windows LIVE release it would have got a 5th star from me. nVidia 3D users will need to turn down some of the effects (SSAO, and shadows) because they are only showing up in the right eye. This flaw will give players headache after about 30 mins...I learned the hard way, so if you do it, ~1000mg of your favorite headache med should set your back on track.
All in all, Split/Second asks you to throw reality out the window, grab your gamepad and hang on...It is a wild ride, and definitely worth your time and money. Get out and race...and drop me a line if you want to take a spin around the track!