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PS3 Review – Split/Second

May 26, 2010 Written by Cameron Teague

Reality TV has been all the rage over the past few years and this year Black Rock Studio has brought that over to the video game side with Split/Second. Players will join in on one of the deadliest races ever created and do whatever it takes to stay alive and make it to the next episode. Will this reality show have what it takes to make it to the top of the charts or will it die at the pilot episode?

Split/Second is a racing game that is all about destructive environments and the way you will use them to make sure that you are the winner. The premise here is that you are part of a Reality TV show that puts players behind the wheel in a race to the death. Similar to many movies such as The Gamer and The Running Man, you are racing for the sole entertainment of those millions watching the show.

The season of Split/Second spans 12 episodes, with each episode presenting 4 challenges, 1 bonus and an elite race. The bonus race is unlocked after you wreck enough rivals during the episode and the elite race is unlocked after you gain enough credits. The elite race is the big deal here as when you place 3rd of higher, you unlock the next episode in the season. During the season gain credits for how well you place to unlock new cars and races. Each car has 4 categories to them; Speed, Drift, Strength , and Acceleration.

The challenges come in the form of elimination, race, detonator, air strike and survivor. Elimination puts you racing against the clock and when it reaches zero the last place driver is destroyed. Keep going until you are the last one racing to gain the most points. Detonator has you driving all alone on a single lap, trying to get the beat the best score. Air strike is where you try to finish a single lap while missiles are going off all around you and Survival is the same but instead of missiles it is barrels falling off a semi truck.

Split/Second has easily the most impressive destruction ever captured in a racing game. Whether its airplanes crash landing in the front of you or gigantic boats sliding down in your direction, there is always something trying to knock you off course. All of this is triggered by the player or AI which makes it even more crazy. As you drift through a race or draft behind a car, you will fill up a meter that allows you at the right time to trigger a powerplay. Powerplays can be plenty of different things from helicopters dropping exploding barrels to tankers exploding and rolling across the street. You will find yourself needing these PP’s at every corner considering its almost impossible to really pull away from the competition so make sure to drift and draft A LOT because you will need your gauge full as much as possible.

With all these explosions going on you might worry that too much will be going on with the screen and while this could have been an issue its not due to a very minimal HUD. Behind one tire is your place in the race and behind the other tire is your lap number. Your built up powerplay gauge is located directly behind the car, meaning you have the full screen to enjoy the destruction. Now with all this going on you might find a bit of dirt and car fly into your windshield but luckily all this disappears pretty quickly. All of these minimal features go a long way to making sure that you are able to enjoy the mayhem at every corner.

Now if you are looking for any kind of customization to your car this is not the game for you. As you win trophies in the game you will earn a decal of that specific trophy to put on your car. The problem is you have no ability to place these on your car, instead they are automatically added to random spots. Want to put a new spoiler or rims on your car? Too bad , the only thing you are actually able to change here is the car color. You will see changes to your car over time as you get farther into the season, but these again are all automatically generated. Would have been nice to have been able to add to your vehicle with credits earned during the game but it was not to be.

There is more to Split/Second then just the season though as you will find an online mode and split/screen offline. The offline mode is for 2 players only which is a bit of a let down but not a deal breaker. The online gives you the ability to join a public game or create a private game. The issue here is that you get no option to find a game from a lobby, instead you are automatically joined in the next available game. As you start the online you will notice you can only use the cars you have unlocked from the single player so make sure to go deep in your season before you try the online waters.

As you take to the online scene, you will earn credits and a car rating from competing in races, survival or elimination. One of the big drawbacks here is that since you cannot select a game from a lobby, you are often stuck with players who have a much better rating then you. What happens here is that they speed by you at the speed of light and then you are left to battle it out with a few bottom feeders at the bottom. So pretty much you are left racing to finish last and slowly build up your point totals. You will also find that while your cars may have been made of strong steel in the single player, they are made of cheap plastic in the online. Any little touch to the wall seems to do even more damage then before, so make sure to adjust.

This game looks pretty dang good for a racer with impressive looking cars and a very interactive environments. Though there are plenty of courses in the game, they are all set out in the same 3 or 4 environments, meaning it all looks the same after awhile. It would have been nice to see better variety in the type of locations and some that didn’t have so much of the gray affect. However none of this kills the fun as most of the time you will be too busy trying to dodge the explosions to look at the scenery.

Split/Second puts players right in that sweet spot between a kart racer and a racing game. Instead of shooting red shells at other drivers to knock them off their game, you will draft behind them and wait for the perfect chance to drop a building on them. You will have to pick just the right car for the driver as each car drives very different then the last. No matter what your dodging in this game, you are sure to be having fun doing it and if you hop online you can do it all while having people call you names. This is a great racing game for anyone out there ready to have a good time bringing destruction down onto those around them.

PlayStation LifeStyle’s Final Score


Explosive fun at every Corner

Deep season with plenty of challenges

Lacking in car customization

8 out of 10

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