|System: X360, PS3, PC||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: Black Rock Studio||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: Disney Interactive||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: Q1 2010||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1-2||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: Pending||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
by Amanda L. Kondolojy
May 13, 2009 - If this console generation has been good for one thing, it has been destruction physics. Last year's Battlefield: Bad Company showed us what it was like to play a shooter in a completely destructible environment, and next year, Split/Second will do the same for racing. Featuring an almost completely destructible racing environment, Split/Second looks to change the way we think about destruction in racing games.
Although it may seem to be a bit of a faux paux for a racing game, but Split/Second does in fact have a story behind its outrageous premise. The game puts you in the shoes of a contestant in a speed-focused reality game show. Although the premise sounds a little like Death Race, the competitors here just look like your average street-hardened racers.
In this fictional game, players are encouraged to drive very fast and very dangerously. Once they reach a certain speed, have had plenty of near-misses, and have pulled off other tricks, they can then engage in what are known as Powerplays. This is Split/Second's destruction element. Almost every single unit in the game's landscape is rigged with a trap switch, or better yet, explosives that destroy the environment around them. These powerplays are the cornerstone of the gameplay in Split/Second and will govern your interactions with other players.
One very interesting element to the powerplay system is that it will be tiered. You can do a regular powerplay or what is known as a super powerplay. The difference between these two is, of course, scope. While a normal powerplay might drop an unexpected environmental element onto a track, a super powerplay will cause multiple elements to explode, leading to a chain reaction which can immobilize even the most maneuverable players.
Speaking of powerplays, Split/Second will have plenty of destructible areas to work with; from exploding highway overpasses to city busses that veer into your opponents. The magnitude of powerplay largely determines the effect, but even the smallest powerplay can be used strategically in a race. Although blowing stuff up is nice, the goal will still be to cross the finish line first, so you'll have to keep the pyrotechnics limited to when your opponents are in range of an attack.
Even though there are plenty of strategic elements to this aspect, it doesn't look like you will be able to lay out any elaborate pre-game traps. From early gameplay footage, it seems that you will have to engage these powerplays on the fly by pressing a singular button when you want to engage them. This quick-reaction approach allows you to use a powerplay if an enemy unexpectedly takes you over, which is great for those who aren't as apt to strategy as others, and are more likely to play defensively. Of course, for hardcore junkies, you can time your acceleration and deceleration to optimize opponents' damage from powerplays and even lure them into a timed trap.
As far as the actual racing mechanics go, Split/Second looks like it will be solely focused on a high-octane arcade approach to the driving. You will be able to pound the accelerator, with little regard to braking or precision driving, which will probably be a boon to the featured destructive elements of the gameplay. Cornering and acceleration will be smooth and effortless, and they'll definitely appeal to the casual sect in this regard. Of course, the hardcore audience will probably appreciate the arcade feel of the game, as it will focus the gameplay more on strategic damage rather than drifting and precision cornering.
When this game releases early next year, comparisons to 2008's Burnout Paradise will surely follow. While both series focus heavily on crashes and destruction, Split/Second is definitely a different breed of racer. Instead of using your car as the primary weapon, as you would in Burnout, in Split/Second you use everything else. The strategic focus on environmental damage during a race has definitely got me excited, as the automotive genre seems to have been running out of ideas as of late. Although nothing has been said about multiplayer modes or whether there will be any car customization options, it looks like Split/Second will definitely be a title to watch for next year.
Amanda L. Kondolojy
CCC Staff Contributor