PopTards Games: Split Second or How I lost the feeling in my index finger.

Is there anything better then a nice relaxing drive through the city on a beautiful day?  Perhaps you prefer a leisurely jaunt around the airport or docks.  Who doesn’t enjoy the open road?  Wind whipping around the car, tunes blasting on the radio.  The space needle collapsing on to the convention center creating a ramp to rooftops cutting about 15 seconds off your lap time if you can just make the landing and crushing 6 cars in the process.  Enough about my last vacation, let’s discuss Split/Second.

Split/Second is the latest from Black Rock Studio.  You may remember them for there 2008 game Pure.  The super charged trick racer where you would drive a quad through impossible terrains, pulling off even more impossible jumps and surviving even more impossible (impossibler?) wrecks.  Now it’s with cars.

Split/Second is set to run as some sort of TV show, where drivers compete for riches and glory.  I’m assuming its riches and glory, other than wanting to be in first or qualify for the next episode; you’re really not given much motivation.  Perhaps at this point if you buy a race/destruction game (rastruction?) you don’t require more motivation than the age old wisdom of Charles De Mar. The action all takes place on a set, and features cars that must have the greatest side impact airbags known to man.

The game is split up into 12 episodes.  In each episode there are 4 standard events, a bonus event unlocked by wrecking a certain number of opponents and the elite race which is unlocked when you reach a certain number of credits.  The next episode is unlocked when you place 3rd or higher in the elite race.  Now lets get under the hood and explore some of those in detail (*groan* I apologize, that was an awful pun).

The game opens with some very nice and intense visuals, setting the mode nicely for the in game action.  You start off with the episode one intro where you are told if you like fast cars and explosive action, congratulations; you’ve arrived at your destination.  Now me personally, I prefer my cars loose and my women fast, but I decided to let it go this one time and press on.  After getting a brief run down of the premise and an onslaught of visual representation of what to expect, I pick my car and course.

The racing aspect is pretty standard, if you have ever played burnout, you should feel right at home.  You use at most four buttons, one of which is acceleration, which is rarely not jammed all the way down.  The control scheme is the index killer.  After about two hours of game play the tip of your index finger (used to keep the precious speed at maximum) is completely numb.  I don’t know if I’m alone in the other rastruction game ailment, but my back suffers greatly as I always hunch over during the races.  I feel that leaning forward gives me the slight edge over my opponents as I’ll reach the finish line slightly faster.  What?  Why are you looking at me like that?

Along with driving insanely fast, you are given power plays to use against fellow drivers.  As an advent hockey fan, I was super psyched about that.  Given the massive amount of destruction the game promised, I could only imagine that using a power play meant a giant 20 foot tall Niklas Kronwall was going to come out and start stepping on cars and knocking over buildings.  Sadly, yet again, my dreams go unanswered.  The power plays just meekly set off explosions, or in some cases if your meter is full, bring down entire structures that create short cuts.  Good, but not Kronwall good. Power plays are what make the game slightly unique.  When ever you draft, drift or jump a small amount is added to the power play meter.  Once full you can either set off small explosions at various points on the track, or large scale ones that may alter the track entirely if you fill all three levels.

There are seven different race modes in the game, standard and elite races where your goal is to blow up everyone and finish first, survival races where you don’t want to be last, best lap time races and 3 variations of nemesis mode.  The only key differences between the standard and elite races is that you must finish in the top three to advance to the next episode in the elite races.  Survival race involves a count down timer, when it reaches zero, the last place car explodes, the timer restarts and that repeats until you are quoting the Highlander.  The best lap time races are the most annoying IMHO.  You tear around the course as fast as possible as power plays are automatically triggered in front of you, beating the top time requires a perfect run.  Nemesis mode is rather interesting, rather than racing other drivers, you are either trying to chase down and pass death spewing trucks, dodge missiles from a helicopter, or taking down said helicopter. It’s very similar to Death Race, only the acting in Split/Second is better and has a better plot.

Unlike Pure, there is no vehicle customization.  Finishing a race earns you credits.  The higher you place the more credits you get.  Better cars are unlocked when certain credit milestones are reached.  This does take away from the game slightly.  Most gamers have a different approach to managing a track, so being able to control at least the standard stats would be nice.  Black Rock slightly compensated for this by given you a healthy array of cars with varying stats, but nothing beats homegrown.

The game offers solo, split screen and online racing.  I would assume the split screen was added in mostly to avoid the furor that went up when Burnout: Paradise failed to realize that gamers do occasional socialize in person.

Split/Second is not going to set the world on fire.  It’s a good, fun game.  It is the type of game you’ll play for a solid 10 to 15 hours, then move onto something else, revisiting it ever so often when your brain needs a break.  The visuals are excellent, but not mind blowing.  The tracks are well crafted, but lack a little in variety.  The music is good, very reminiscent of Mag Force Racing, but more modern.  Techno is always a good choice for racing games.  The controls are as simple as Forest Gump, as you mostly rely on three to four buttons at most.

All in all, a well made game that requires little thought and is heavy on action.  It’ll set you back about five and a half sawbucks on Amazon, but if you’re a Burnout fan, it should be justifiable.  The Forza and GT crowd will most likely want to avoid this title as the lack of car customization is none existent.  The biggest complaints I have, and this is not reserved for just Split/Second, are the unskippable credits at the end and the ridiculous sequel setup.  Now I’m sure if I managed to finish my degree and I’m one day developing video games, I guarantee I’ll feel different about the end credits.  Until then, I will bitch to high heaven about them.  The sequel setup is another animal all together.  First, Split/Second is a rastruction game.  There’s like a paper thin story.  More then some of the movies being released these days, but still paper thin.  Second, it’s a rastruction game, you don’t do story lines, you repackage and resell (I.E. Burnout or 85% of Nintendo games).  Without giving too much away, the sequel setup is so forced and stupid.  Its almost so bad it nearly screen wraps back to good.  Flames!  On the side of my face!

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5 Comments to “PopTards Games: Split Second or How I lost the feeling in my index finger.”

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  1. racing games says:

    Iv seen this somewhere before, typing to figure out where it was, nice blog.

  2. Y says:

    feel free!

  3. Thanks reminding me, I have a passion for playing this game.

  4. Spitze Design hat dieser Blog. Woher hast du die Vorlage ? War bestimmt sehr teuer.

  5. great, thanks for good post

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