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Split/Second - hands-on

We’ve just darted underneath a crashing jet while fiery sparks peppered our glasses, crushed a tailing car with a container and almost had our face smashed into sinewy chunks after foolishly detonating fifteen barrels of awesome at the base of a radar tower before pitting our vehicle against the combined power of thirty tons of concrete and gravity. We did win. But just barely. Phew.

Our second encounter with Split/Second – and our first extended hands-on – comes six months after the first, and in that time there have been some minor changes. The HUD, for instance, still remains loosely attached to the rear of our car, but the Powerplay bar now paints the road rather than the number plate location. The reason for the change? Clarity, apparently, although we must admit (if you’re asking) we much preferred the neater and more concise original design.

More integral to the racing is the switch in Powerplay icons. Originally these sat over any bits of scenery which could be triggered to scupper those ahead. Now the flashes have jumped to the cars themselves; appearing and disappearing when rides dash in and out of the ranges of various traps. Split/Second is right: fail to trigger the necessary Powerplay immediately and you’ll completely miss. The timing is being worked on though, and should be more forgiving come release.

When recapping the basics Black Rock did let slip a few new details about the game’s structure. We already knew that Split/Second is a television show set in a giant city constructed specially for the network, like a gearhead Running Man. We now know that the series you’ll be playing through lasts through 24 episodes (there’s even a racer named Bauer. Coincidence? Well, no), and that each episode is further split into three or four separate events. Tracks come in various flavours, with basic and advanced versions dictating which Powerplays and Super Powerplays are available for abuse.

Episodes even dictate which cars will be featured. Rather than opt for a standard upgrade system Black Rock has shunned all notion of currency and instead picked the idea of themed episodes. If you’re good enough to earn a return pass to the next day of Split/Second’s recording schedule you’ll likely find it’s got a different theme. The car models will all lean towards a particular racing style, one which will complement the special challenges that need to be completed to progress. Sometimes these targets are score-based or factor in the numbers of Powerplays triggered. Winning isn’t always everything, you know.

Matt is former editor of Official PlayStation Magazine, his favourite games include Skyrim, Final Fantasy VII, Braid, Shadow Of The Colossus and Puggsy, and when he's not grinding away in Destiny you'll often find him talking about WWE or NFL (go Seahawks!).