Last year at the Electronic Entertainment Expo, there was a racing game that blew everyone away and had them excited to see the final product. That game was Black Rock Studio’s latest title, Split Second. For those unaware with the studio, they also made the game “Pure” a couple of years back. Split Second is set in the world of a reality television show that is being broadcasted to millions of homes. In this “show” you wreak as much havoc as you can while trying to accomplish the objective that has been placed in front of you.
The presentation for this game is amazing, with each season being broken down into twelve “episodes”. Each episode will contain six different events. These events will range from a standard race to an elimination mode, air attack and more. Not every event is open to you initially, so you will have to meet the requirements to advance. The requirements can vary from you simply winning a race to making sure you are the last man standing. The number of credits that you receive for an event will be dependent on what place you come in. You will need these credits to unlock new cars and advance in the season. You will also need to wreck as many as your rivals as you can. There will be events where the requirement to unlock it is to wreck a set number of your opponents. The number is cumulative, so you don’t have to wreck them all in the same event. Once you complete an episode, you will then get a choice of which episode you want to do next. You will be presented with two choices here on which path you want to follow. Keep in mind that certain episodes will contain different challenges as well. One episode might feature mainly races while the other one will have more of a variety. It is completely up to you the order in which to choose to complete the episodes.
Split Second features six different game modes which should keep you busy for quite a while: “Race,” “Eliminator,” “Air Attack,” “Revenge Air Attack,” “Survival” and “Detonator”. “Race” is your standard mode where you have to race against seven opponents and the first one across the finish line wins. During the race, you will try to use any power plays you possibly can to take out your opponents, and they will try and return the favor. As for “Eliminator”, the last man driving wins the contest. At the beginning, you have an initial sixty seconds to jockey for position. Once that time limit expires, a car is eliminated every twenty seconds until only one car remains. You will be eliminated if you are in last place when the timer hits zero. The race can become pretty intense as fewer and fewer cars are left on the track, eventually leaving you one on one with another car. That is if you make it that far. The next mode is “Air Attack” where you have a helicopter firing missiles at you. Your job is to try and dodge these missiles, racking up a huge score in the process. You will slowly build a combo if you can pass multiple waves of missiles without getting taken out, with the overall objective of accumulating the high score. You are given some indication where the missiles are going to land, so you can quickly prepare before the dust starts flying. You get three chances in this mode, but after that, game over.
The next mode is “Revenge Air Attack”, and it features one important twist on the “Air Attack” formula. In this mode, you now have the ability to deflect the missiles back at the helicopter. The objective here is to take out that helicopter in the shortest time possible. The next mode is “Survival”, and this one will test how quickly you can react to hazardous objects landing in front of your car. The main objective is to safely pass big trucks without getting hit by the barrels falling out of the back. If you hit a blue barrel, it will briefly slow you down, and if you hit a red barrel, it will take you out completely. The more trucks you pass, the tougher it is to dodge the barrels, so you have to be able think quick and react even quicker. Much like the “Air Attack” mode, you have three chances before it is game over. The final mode is “Detonator”. This is a beat the clock mode where you have to race around a track and try to beat the best time. In this mode, you are alone on the track with power plays automatically going off all around you. You need to survive whatever is thrown at you and make it across the finish line before the target time. In my opinion, these modes help to change the gameplay dynamics enough so you won’t get too bored with any one mode or event.
As fun as Split Second is to play solo, I think this title has amazing potential to be a great party game as well. As you progress in your season mode, you will unlock tracks and events that you can play at your leisure in the “quick play” menu. For gamers that want to play with family and friends, a split screen option is available where you can choose whether you want a vertical or horizontal slice on your screen. I wish all games that offered split screen support would give that option. Online multiplayer is also featured here, and, the entire time I raced online, it ran perfect with no lag at all. Please keep in mind that before you venture online, you will want to make some progress in your season, due to the fact that you can take cars you have unlocked in your season and race with them online. Once you jump online you will immediately be able to distinguish the higher ranked drivers from the people who might not have played the game much. The way that Black Rock Studios handled this is with the number that appears on your race car. Your number is a symbol to the world about where you are at in the online rankings. Everyone starts with number “99” on their car, and, as you begin to win races and accomplish other feats, your number will eventually go up. In my time online, I raced against a couple of people that had “75” on their car, while the majority of people were still in the 90s. There are even achievements that you can earn by hitting certain numbers online.
As I mentioned above, you need to cause as much havoc as you can in this game and hope the computer doesn’t return the favor. The way that you would do this is by utilizing Power Plays. There is a meter beneath your car that is broken up into three sections, along with two different levels of Power Plays at your disposal. The first two sections are blue, and if you activate them, they will trigger a small event to try and take out your opposition. This could range from a car exploding on the side of the street to a gas station coming down on top of your opponent and much more. If you manage to be patient and get all three sections completely full, then your meter will turn red, and you will then gain access to a level two power play. This is where you can really cause some damage as you can take down whole buildings or change the track itself. There was one race in particular where each lap was different, because either the A.I. or I kept destroying the track and changing the route. The power plays themselves are static, so if you play the game long enough you will know what to expect in terms of where the explosions might take place and things of that nature. I can see where some people might find this repetitive after a little while, but just because you know something is coming doesn’t mean you can avoid it. This is especially true if you are in first place, because the A.I. will try to take you out with their Power Plays, and you don’t know when it is going to happen.
Unfortunately, one of the few negatives about Split Second seems to be the rubber band A.I. You could have a pretty good lead on someone, and then, all of a sudden, it is a close race to the finish. That didn’t happen to me all the time, but there were a few instances where I was surprised that a car was following so close behind me. In fact, there is even an achievement for winning a race by less than a second. The achievements themselves tend to flow very nicely, as I was able to unlock them at a steady pace that would keep me trying to go for the next one. There are also a decent amount of extras in the game where you can check your leaderboard position, the decals you have unlocked, your statistics and more. The leaderboards work really well because it will rank you amongst your friends, and tell you what percentile you are in overall. An example of this would be that, at the time I am writing this review, I was in the top 20% on a particular track from all of the people who have played that track so far.
After sitting down with this game for awhile, it is clear that Black Rock Studios has another hit on their hands. Split Second is an adrenaline fueled racer, where you never quite know what is going to happen next or where the track is going to take you. The premise of this title is based around some of the best car chase scenes that you will find in a blockbuster action film. It’s a visually stunning title and the audio further helps to immerse you in the chaos that is taking place all around you. If you are a fan of arcade racers, then make sure you don’t miss out on this title. If you aren’t a fan of that type of racer, be sure to try out this title anyways as this might be the one that turns you into that fan.
Originally posted on Totally Gaming Network