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Split/Second review

AT A GLANCE
  • Madcap creativity
  • Huge explosions
  • Brilliantly chaotic and rapid racing
  • Made-up, non licensed cars
  • Limp crashes and impacts
  • Lacks that killer edge

Games are young and naive, so they hang out with older boys – movies – to be cool. They smoke and nod sagely at whatever movies do, aping their moves, desperate to be mistaken for one. And they’re just too star-struck to see their idols are mainly bloated, frantic and sad.

Black Rock are one of the few developers to see that games’ similarities to film are over-stressed – it’s the differences that make them more powerful than anything. For instance, in reality you can’t throw a battleship at a car. In films, you can throw battleships around, but it’ll cost a fortune. In games, however, it’s as easy as filling the screen with anything else. All you need is the imagination to make it happen, which is where Split/Second excels.

So in Split/Second, you’ll topple colossal towers and then career up the remains, raze office blocks and cooling towers, and race along sinking aircraft carriers. You can also cause helicopters to drop bombs and make cranes sweep earth-moving machinery across the road to crash the other racers, although it’s remarkably cheerful for such extreme violence. There are no human figures, so no ‘deaths’ here… After all, it’s published by Disney, a company with its primal lust for blood so firmly in check that it can televise Miley Cyrus.

Handling is like Burnout, only not as good. It’s close, but the steering is a little thick and the responses of even the most mental cars is too sluggish. More damningly, it’s often quicker not to drift, and impacts are curiously lifeless given the destruction all around. But then, while we lost a fair few times – usually right on the finish line, which is just annoying – we hardly ever crashed. It’s not catastrophic, just a little limp.

Shame, because Split/Second solves several thorny design problems in one go. It’s basically racing with weapons, but without the control nightmare of aiming a car and gun at the same time. It also moves on from the ‘drift to earn boost’ standard. Here, you drive madly to earn ‘power plays’. Press the button and something blows up or collapses. Time it right to wave sayonara to your esteemed competitors.

Get the gauge into the red and you can activate mega-events, such as the launch of a battleship, in a few designated spots on each track. But you must also save some power in order to activate the shortcuts that need opening on each lap. This should all add up to something quite tactical, but we rarely knew what we were about to blow up or where our rivals were in relation to it. We just blew up everything we could.

Inevitably, it works online if you think a child racist is what this needs, but there’s also a split-screen option for those old-fashioned enough to enjoy physically assaulting players acting like dicks ‘at source’, as it were. How quaint. The barrel dodging Survival minigame has all the score-chasing, ‘one more go’ hallmarks of Burnout’s infamous crash junctions.

There is one part of the game that steals the show: the Detonator round, where you surge past explosion after explosion, like a Hollywood stunt driver, barely sneaking through licks of flame and feeling like a total action hero. We wish there were more of these levels, as they really show how Split/Second can shine.

So. It’s messy fun that slightly under-delivers. The episodic, reality TV conceit feels tacked on (with the sound turned off, you’d mistake it for a standard racer), but thankfully it’s so flimsily attached that it’s irrelevant and spoils nothing. Consequently, Split/Second is better than Hollywood, less impressive than Burnout and more amusing than both of them.

May 17, 2010

More Info

Release date: May 18 2010 - Xbox 360, PS3, PC
Nov 16 2010 - PSP (US)
May 21 2010 - Xbox 360, PS3, PC
Nov 16 2010 - PSP (UK)
Available Platforms: Xbox 360, PS3, PC, iPad, PSP
Genre: Racing
Published by: Disney Interactive Studios
Developed by: Sumo Digital, Black Rock Studios
ESRB Rating:
Everyone 10+: Violence
PEGI Rating:
7+

17 comments

  • killboy97 - June 25, 2010 1:39 a.m.

    Does anyone know what the heck is the difference between Split/Second and blur, why don't they just put them both together.????
  • ATLAS - June 1, 2010 3:12 p.m.

    Split Second really is the most intense game I've ever played. I was on the edge of my seat saying "Holy Shit!" everytime something blew up. Blur just can't compare.
  • mastergamer87 - May 18, 2010 8:42 a.m.

    I've been playing the demo for this pretty frequently, and I've gotta say that I like the handling. I can't wait to get this game!
  • TJP75 - May 18, 2010 7:06 a.m.

    What the review fails to mention is that Split/Second is very short and lacks tracks. Gamerzine finished the entire game (as in earning all the achievements) in under 8 hours, finished the career mode in 6 and reported the game has just 11 tracks. And yet they still awarded a 93% score! Nice to see a few magazines and websites like GR not getting caught up in the hype.
  • GameManiac - May 18, 2010 2:13 a.m.

    This is one of those games that I've been looking forward to. If only I had a PS3...if this game is also available for PS3 that is.
  • SuperStingray - May 18, 2010 12:53 a.m.

    Why would I care whether or not the cars are made up or licensed?
  • FingeredPope - May 18, 2010 12:06 a.m.

    "So in Split/Second, you’ll topple colossal towers and then career up the remains..." Did you mean careen? Other than that I thought it was a good review, not exactly my cup of tea but good to know its not a total piece of crap.
  • CH3BURASHKA - May 18, 2010 12:05 a.m.

    I'll be damned if there's another racing game coming this year that's *better* than this. Pure gold. And GT5 doesn't count - it's not a game.
  • Amnesiac - May 17, 2010 8:36 p.m.

    @denyeverything "Racist" instead of "racer" is a GamesRadar inside joke.
  • MW3M - May 17, 2010 7 p.m.

    Aaaaaand I'll be getting Blur instead....
  • FreekinIdiot - May 17, 2010 3:54 p.m.

    OnyxOblivion ALL OF THEM!! MMMWWWOOHAHAHAHA!! Seriously though, I don't care, as long as they're good.
  • wrapdump - May 17, 2010 3:51 p.m.

    This is a lot better than blur. Also the handling is actually rather excellent. Pretty. too.
  • OnyxOblivion - May 17, 2010 3:04 p.m.

    Sonic & Sega? Split Second? Blur? Good time to be a racing fan, unless you like 'em realistic. But which to get...
  • denyeverything - May 17, 2010 2:57 p.m.

    "racist"? you mean "racer"?
  • shinigamiDude - May 17, 2010 2:41 p.m.

    This one is on my radar ever since I heard about the concept. This better be as good or as fun as Sonic & Sega All Stars racing.
  • bluscorp - May 17, 2010 1:13 p.m.

    Definitely getting this. I've played the demo loads and agree with you, there's no sign of impact damage, opponents get harder at the end and steering isn't as loose as i would of hoped. But the main thing that beats it all, is that's it's fun. Good review Steve :)
  • allthegoodnameswheretaken - May 17, 2010 1:07 p.m.

    How does it compare to Blur?

Showing 1-17 of 17 comments

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