Burnout with track destruction vs Mario Kart with real cars
Split/Second: Matchbox-like sports cars distinguished by speed and resilience. Handling owes a great deal to the likes of Burnout.
Blur: A mix of your typical kart racer and Project Gotham; licensed cars drift like caricatures of their real-life counterparts.
Split/Second: Drive like a loon and earn ‘powerplays’. Trigger them to drop ocean liners and aeroplanes on your foes, or open shortcuts.
Blur: Green Shells (sorry, Bolts) spin enemies, Mushrooms (excuse us, Nitro) provide a power boost and, well, you get the idea.
Split/Second: A pyrotechnic orgy with the “best damage model you’ll see in a racing game”, claim UK-based devs Black Rock.
Blur: Around 20 vehicles, all controlled by launching a variety of EMP blasts and homing balls of destruction.
Split/Second: A realtively meagre eight-player online, but Time Trial and Survival modes allow for leaderboard comparisons.
Blur: Up to 20 players online, with four-player split screen. Multi-player is Blur’s raison d’etre, with eight different modes.
Split/Second: Each circuit is a section of a huge city, almost all of which can be blown up with fire and reshaped each lap.
Blur: Many tracks are based on real locations, but the ones we’ve seen are simplistic. Presumably to allow for so many racers.
Winner: Split/Second. Blur thrills in multi-player, despite its familiarity. Split/Second is a technically impressive arcade racer that might add a great new twist to the genre.
The Little Big Planet of kart racers, but more DIY friendly
You only need to play ModNation Racers for a few hours to know it’s going to be huge. It’s the perfect storm of kart-racing fun: customisation, online matches, community support and – crucially – solid racing mechanics.
On their own, races are epic affairs that push your driving skills to the limit. Courses are strewn with nasty corners, last-minute obstacles and hidden shortcuts. Meanwhile, the AI is ferocious, requiring you to use tactics such as shielding and side-swiping to take pole. Brilliantly, if you collect power-ups instead of chucking them at a target straight away, you’ll level up your attacks. This way, a single rocket becomes a fleet of death.
However, it’s the full-on customisation features that bring ModNation to life. You can tweak your avatar and fine-tune your kart in micro detail, with the ability to customise eyes, shoes, hubcaps and engines. Want to race as Iron Man in Penelope Pitstop’s Compact Pussycat car? Quite possible. Better yet, you can build serious cars, or mad machines powered by hamster wheels and have armchairs for seats. Expect a stream of copyright-infringing racers accelerating away from lawyers.
Of course, LittleBigPlanet is a key influence – devs United Front Games claim to have a great relationship with Media Molecule – so it’s no surprise that the amazing, intuitive track creator offers such flexibility. You don’t lay out track pieces, but drive in real-time building the track as you go. Can’t be arsed to add scenery? The game will do it for you, with an amazing auto-fill option.
ModNation Racers is community focused, with full sharing of tracks and racers. In the central hub, you’ll find podiums dedicated to the top character designs, highly rated user-tracks and plenty of online racing options. Judging by the MNR beta test – where users built near-perfect versions of Charlie Brown, Sonic and Old Snake, among others – the only limit will be racer’s imagination.