Split/Second: Velocity

Racing has never been like this before. Sure, it’s been insanely fast. It's been barely under control. There have been multiple takedowns, explosions, total destruction, hidden shortcuts and split second wins. But, what’s never happened before, at least not in the middle of any race I’ve been in, is to have a massive great passenger jet crash in front of me. Or to have a huge cargo ship slide, sparking across the racetrack taking out three cars in a ball of flame. But, if you’re playing Split/Second: Velocity, get used to it because in the arcade racer from developers Black Rock Studios, this kind of stuff happens all the time. In fact, buses, bridges and planes and cranes are constantly sent flying all round the track, making winning a race not just a matter of going fast, but also about avoiding the container ship, or freight train, or building that’s rolling down the road towards you.

Set in the world of reality TV, the story mode of Split/Second, funnily enough, doesn’t offer any real story at all. Essentially it’s just a way of organising the races. The TV show breaks groups of races into 12 episodes. Each race you compete in, depending how you do, earns you points. Earn enough points and you unlock the episode’s elite races. Complete the elite races and you unlock the next episode. It’s all accessed straight from a simple and uncluttered menu that lets you get straight into the carnage. The clutter comes when you start racing.

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Each location is simply packed full of things to crash through, crash into, jump over or slide around. Although not particularly original, they range from airports, to shipyards, construction sites and city streets. Disappointingly, the game isn’t the cleanest or most detailed graphically, often looking four or five years behind out of date. However, there is just so much going on. Debris is always flying across the track and more burned out vehicles block the streets every time you complete a circuit. But it’s the big stuff that’s the best in the game. The cargo ship that was sitting patiently in dry-dock ends up on it’s side burning in the harbour. Or the airplane hanger that was an uneventful little tunnel, second time round is collapsing in flames, and now makes up a series of jumps taking you over your previous route and cutting seconds from your lap times.

Working your way through the locations does not pose much of a problem as the control system is little more then a beak and accelerator. Driving fast is a matter of balancing between the two, in order to get the maximum drift around the corners. Drifting is essential to the game because it is one of the quickest ways of filling up your power play meter. Other ways of filling the meter are drafting, narrow misses and jumps. All are important because a full power play meter allows you to perform power plays.

And Split/Second is all about power plays. Just about everything is rigged to blow. If you get behind in a race a blue icon will appear over a competitor as they close on an explosive location. By pressing x you can trigger the explosion and take out the one car in front of you. However, if you have a power play meter that’s filled up into the red, a red icon may appear briefly giving you the opportunity to trigger a level two power play. Get this exactly right and you could bring down a building, or a whole section of the course, knocking out all your competitors and even changing the track completely. The power plays make Split/Second a full-on and explosive racing experience.

But, Split/Second is also a stripped down, lean arcade racer. As such, going from last to first is not much of a problem. Bumping into walls and competitors’ cars won’t hurt much; damage hardly effects handling and car selection is often out of your hands. There’s no buying upgrades or worrying about your exit lines. In Split/Second everything is black and white – you have an accelerator and a break, and your car’s either good-to-go or a flaming wreck. But conversely your competitors are always just one mistake behind. The other leveller is when you’re out in front you can’t aim power plays at those behind you, so if you’re in first place then you’re an easy target, and if you’re not careful it will be you pulling yourself out from under a collapsed building and having to claw your way back from last spot.

Together with circuit races, elimination races and time trials you have survival races where you have to pass trucks throwing explosives at you and air strike races where a helicopter constantly tries to take you out with rockets. In keeping with the philosophy of the game multiplayer modes are also uncluttered and uncomplicated although connecting to a public race can take time and courses and cars are only available in two-player once they’ve been unlocked in the story.

For the most part Split/Second: Velocity hits the mark like a cargo ship through your windscreen. It’s extreme fun and effortless to get into, like the best weekend party games should be, but may struggle over the longer term. There are less than thirty cars and the courses, while very well designed, twist and turn through the same limited number of locations. However, all things considered Split/Second is an absolute blast, in more ways then one.

"One great idea and plenty of action."
- Split/Second: Velocity
Follow Own it? Rating: PG   Difficulty: Easy   Learning Curve: 5 Min


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Comments Comments (12)

Posted by icequeen
On Friday 11 Jun 2010 8:11 AM
played the demo and didnt enjoy it to much, it got better towards the end when you saw the trailer for it when your about to leave and you realise there must be more to it, but it just seemed lacking in something? i hope the game far surpasses its demo
Posted by Takuyafire
On Friday 11 Jun 2010 11:59 AM
This game is repetitive as hell...but we played it at a lan the other day with two full 8 person servers...it was amazing
Posted by brettz0r
On Friday 11 Jun 2010 6:56 PM
As I have completed the game :) - i find single play a bit too easy and won pretty every race on the 1st go (admitabley there was a few that took 4-5 trys)
One thing that isnt that great is thatr you have to earn your cars in single player before you should bother playing online - if you havnt got the good cars - dont bother playing online as you can not win.
Online is good fun - except the lag has caught me out a few times and has caused me to wreck when i shouldnt have - that can be rather frustrating.
All in all - good game but I dont think id be playing it for too much longer then it takes to get all the trophies :)
Posted by appleminimac
On Friday 11 Jun 2010 9:35 PM
How does this compare with Blur?
Posted by Soyerz
On Friday 11 Jun 2010 10:22 PM
11 June 2010, 09:35 PM Reply to appleminimac
How does this compare with Blur?
From the podcasts I have listened to it is basically like this...

Split/second is more for the fun single player which is just destructive and not overly difficult towards the end unlike Blur.

Where Blur gets the advantage is in its online interface. It offers more such as ranking and perks over time.
Posted by SpawnSeekSlay
On Saturday 12 Jun 2010 9:55 AM
Played the demo, think its defintiely more of a rental, fun for what it is... but feel it will be limited.
Posted by Bank
On Saturday 12 Jun 2010 11:24 AM
Never thought it'll actually be that good. But the demo did showcase good graphics and I found myself doing re-races.
Posted by Liam_OConnor
On Sunday 13 Jun 2010 12:32 AM
This is pretty much the current leader for my personal GotY. People who know my tastes can take that for what it's worth.
Posted by Oliver
On Sunday 13 Jun 2010 9:15 AM
The demo was enough for me. Don't think I'll pursue this one any further, especially if it is as easy as brettzor says.
Posted by meemorize
On Thursday 17 Jun 2010 2:11 PM
11 June 2010, 09:35 PM Reply to appleminimac
How does this compare with Blur?
I have initially bought Blur at EB Games but felt like it was lacking in fun.
Yes, you can drive over power ups and fire them but ultimately it felt like playing the exact same thing over and over again without any significant change in game modes.

I took it back and exchanged it for S/S and did not regret my choice. Yes the game does get somewhat predictable after a while, you know where all the good shortcuts are but that does not take away any of the fun.
Also the different game modes of S/S are just awesome, dodging flying barrels, being shot at with rockets, etc.. good arcade style racing fun.

I did not play either game online yet.
Posted by Lacurus
On Sunday 20 Jun 2010 8:41 PM
This game is so damn fun, it can get repetitive but split screen with a friend in the way to go. Awesome blowing up a bridge on top of your mate :)
Posted by lol
On Friday 25 Jun 2010 6:40 AM
they are trying to copy burnout ad nothin beats burnout so there