OH MY GOD IS THAT A 747?
I'm not a huge racing game guy. The last game that revolved around racing cars that I enjoyed was Burnout: Paradise, and that game kind of whispered to me, "You like arcade racing games." And though a shiver went down my spine, I knew the game was right. A lot of hardcore racers prefer their Gran Turismos and their Forza Motorsport 3s, but I like to watch my opponents literally break in half because of my evil doings. However, like most other games, Burnout came with flaws. The biggest one was that just breathing on the back of a car would throw them to the side. Even if I could exploit that over and over to win, I'd still feel more like a dick than I would outsmarting them. But it was a fun game to play and I was willing to make the compromises.
Black Rock Studio is responsible for this game that I'm reviewing, and they found themselves on the mainstream track when they released a litle game called Pure. ATV racing has a very selective audience, so the developers turned ATV racing into a much more arcade experience, with unrealistic jumps and tricks. People liked Pure quite a bit, and we were sure that there might be more good stuff coming from the men at Black Rock. Split/Second was the response to that craziness that was Pure.
While this game, other than the destruction, seems like any other racing game, there's just a little more to it. It's different from most other games because, while all this seems crazy, it wouldn't be completely far fetched to say it can be pretty realistic. How is that, you say? Black Rock thought of that, and gave us this; Split/Second is a TV show. That's right, bitches, they can do whatever the fuck they want! That means that they can throw fucking airplanes, cooling towers, trains, bridges and skyscrapers at you at least once every race! They give this power of destruction to the players themselves in the form of Power Plays. To get these power plays, you usually have to drift around corners or get a "close call", where you barely make it out of another driver's power play. There are three levels of "power plays", and they all do damage. level one and level two are basically the same; level two is just another way of saying that you have two level ones. These do things such as drop explosive barrels, blow up walls, drop beams on you, and helpful things such as opening up shortcuts for a short period of time. Level three is the real damage dealer that does all that you fear. They are usually very epic and the crazy part is that there's some way out of it, creating some awesome action-movie moments. I'll leave that for you to experience yourself. The non-sensical fun of it all is really what makes this game so appealing. However, Split/Second would not be worth your 60 dollars if they didn't have more than just single player racing.
Along with the typical, first one to get here wins event, they have another game type that is not unfamiliar to the racing genre called Elimination. It gets a little crazy from there. They also have detonator, in which you are by yourself and the game makes bad things happen. You just have to go around once to complete it. After that, there's survival. In this, an endless line of big rigs throw explosive barrels at you. A bunch of dummy AIs are also trying to play, but they're really just another set of obstacles. You just have to stay alive until you've gotten more points that the AI holding the top spot. They're a lot more fun than I make them sound, I promise you that. The last one involves an adversary that we here on Giant Bomb know very well: Helicopters. Yes, they make an appearance once more, and they want you fucking dead. At first, you just have to dodge them for a while, just like survival with the big rigs. However, after a short amount of time, you are given the power to give them a taste of their own medicine, and that medicine hurts like a bitch. Hurts so good. As you're driving through and earning your level 3 power play, the targets where the missles will land will turn red, signaling you to press the circle button. When that happens, the missle are turned right back at the helicopter and 1/4 of it's health is gone. You can earn level 1 power plays and take 1/12 of his life which feels faster in the short run, but in the end, you'll want to hit him hard and fast, and 4 rockets is how you do it.
The no-holds-barred setting of Split/Second gives the game some pretty awesome levels as well. In order to pull off such amazing power plays, these races need to be placed in certain settings. Airports, power plants, dams, canyons, anything that can be blown up and be put back together to be blown up again. The graphics, along with the levels, makes Split/Second a pretty good looking game. Motion blur and other such slight touches help make the game even more intense than it already is. The sound of metal and rock exploding from all sides, and other small, but important, details really tie this game together. Along with all this, there's a split screen mode (suprisingly not called split/screen), and a multiplayer that, from what I've played, has been tons of fun. The power plays even the score, no matter where you are, unless you're somewhere around 6 seconds ahead of everyone. This makes the multiplayer unpredictable, which is different from other racing games I've played where if someone is ahead, they're going to win unless they royally screw up; with all these power plays and shortcuts, the playing field is nearly even, creating a fun experience for everyone. I do stress however that it might be best to play through the campaign first to get the best cars for multiplayer, but hey, it's not impossible to win with a car you unlocked during episode six.
To tell you the truth, I couldn't find a whole lot wrong with this game. There can be times when you crash when you weren't supposed to crash, such as getting demolished while driving 200 miles per hour into a huge chunk of air next to the wall, but those moments are few and far between. Some may not like that, after a while, the leader in a race is untouchable, but you're given power plays to stop that from happening. If the leader's farther than even the power plays can go, then the problem's not with the game. The trophies are even fun and not entirely impossible. Give this game some time, and you just might have a platinum trophy within your reach. There are quite a few secret trophies, which may unsettle some, but a lot of them are earned by accident while playing the game, and that's gotta make you feel good. Once you're through it all, it's replay value isn't really that great, but if you enjoyed the multiplayer, you shouldn't get tired of Split/Second any time soon.
Sometimes, you just want to feel like a badass. Split/Second delivers.