That how is facilitated by Split/Second's cheeky reality-TV premise, which treats the matchstick city you're racing around like a giant soundstage rigged with explosives. Triggering these explosives is the crux of Split/Second. By drifting, drafting, and catching air, you fill a meter that lets you trigger "power plays"--destructive events bound to specific sections of the track--the idea being that a well-timed power play will monkey up an opposing racer ahead of you. You'll find there are several tiers of power plays, ranging from an explosive barrel being dropped from a helicopter hovering over the track to the botched landing of a 747... directly on top of your car. Fill your meter up enough, and in many cases you'll even be able to change the track itself.
The more incredible power plays are unlike anything I've seen in a racing game before, and even when they just end up resulting in an unreasonable amount of chaos, they can be a spectacular thing to witness. The folks at Black Rock haven't been afraid to namedrop Jerry Bruckheimer and Michael Bay's names when talking about Split/Second, which seems fully justified based on the kind of ornately choreographed mayhem I've seen in the game so far. It certainly didn't hurt my impression of the game that I was thoroughly trouncing my competition at the event. We mostly played straight races, which were overwhelmingly chaotic. The experience was occasionally mixed up with a mode where tanker trucks tossed explosive barrels out the back. During these races, your performance is gauged by how many of these moving caravans of destruction you could overtake without getting blown to smithereens.
Despite my near-sterling race record, I was still occasionally met with frustration playing Split/Second.There were a few races where one driver would break out far enough ahead of the pack early on, making them untouchable for the rest of the race, leaving everyone else to scrabble for second. Not to play armchair game designer here, but when such a situation cropped up, I felt like I should've been able to sacrifice some portion of my power play meter for a little boost.
My time with Split/Second left me acutely aware of some of the game's outstanding issues--specifically with regards to the consistency of the frame rate--but I'm more excited than ever for its May 18th release.