Split/Second is a new explosive (literally) arcade racer for PC, Xbox 360, and PS3 (360 version reviewed here). Play as a contestant on a new racing reality TV show. The makers of the program have designed a whole city just for racing—and explosions! Not only must you compete with the fastest cars, but you must also avoid treacherous obstacles and fiery blasts at a moment’s notice.
The racing is standard arcade fluff. Easy to control and get into. But to really get an edge in a race, you’re going to have to blow stuff up. To make explosions on the track, you don’t pick up any item boxes or icons scattered around the road. You earn the ability to blow stuff up by drifting, drafting behind opposing cars, and other clever driving techniques.
These stunts fill up a meter that, when full, lets you push a button to detonate a part of the track ahead. You’ll see icons over cars in front of you, letting you know when you can detonate something. And if those cars get caught up in the blast, they’ll wreck and you can pass them. But watch out, trailing cars can make explosions, too, and you can also crash into your own traps. The tracks also have shortcuts you can open up, too.
Each series of races is considered a season in the TV show, and each event is an ‘episode.’ By winning races, you’ll earn credits which unlock new cars and more episodes. These race events include eliminations where the last place car gets blown up after a certain time limit, obstacle challenges where you must avoid explosions and helicopter missile attacks, and just standard grand prix sessions. You can compete alone in Single Player, against a nearby buddy in two player split screen, or go head to head with up to eight others online via Xbox LIVE.
The graphics are gritty but very nice, and the explosions are especially cool. This is one game that’s as much fun to watch as it is to play. The only thing I didn’t like was the play control. I felt the drifting controls were a little unresponsive. However, teenage brother Jeff and his friends had no problem with the controls and they loved the game, so that just may be a personal preference with me only (I prefer Ridge Racer style drifting anyway). The explosive gimmick in Split/Second may not be very deep, but it does offer some good, simple arcade fun.
Split/Second is rated E-10 for Everyone 10 and up with an ESRB descriptor of Violence. While there are lots of explosions and car crashes, you don’t see anyone getting hurt. And they get past a lot of this with the premise that Split/Second is a TV show so all the explosions are on a makeshift set and aren’t real. Kids love playing with cars and crashing them, so personally, I would let any age play Split/Second. However, because of a lack of a selectable difficulty option, younger and less experienced gamers might get frustrated at the later challenges.