This Split Second Review is to tell you that this is probably the greatest racing game you’ve never heard of. Heard of it? Then why are you reading this? You already know its simply fantastic.
Split Second is a racing game, so that tells you a lot about what you already know of the gameplay style. You can do the standard 3rd person (from behind the car) or 1st person (front bumper view) when racing. They both have their own merits, and its really up to the style of game as to which works better. For this game, 3rd person is fine. This is no simulator driving experience. This is an arcade blast of adrenaline, that was probably never in an arcade… or many homes, and what a crime that is.
The story, which is terrible and not important at all, is that you’re a contestant on a TV show that works for ratings. You drive with 7 other racers and can blow them up with explosions of your choosing that can be so drastic they even change they layout of the track. Some of these changes are downright spectacular. Like racing around an airport and calling in a military bomber plane to crash land into the runway, right in front of you, taking out just about everyone in its path. I say just about because once you start racing these tracks you catch on to where you need to be when shit hits the fan. Another track has a space needle in the background, like in Seattle and you can blow it up causing it to land on the track, crushing enemies and making a whole new segment of the track.
The name of the game is filling 3 bars under your car that allow you to trigger explosions to get everyone out of your way and win the race. Fill all 3 and you can make a game changer explosion like I mentioned earlier. You can only cause an explosion, or distraction, on someone that is in front of you. So if you can maintain 1st place with a kick ass car, then you won’t be blowing anyone up. But if you manage to fill all 3 bars you can still trigger a track change mega explosion. Another option is to use one bar’s worth to open shortcuts. You can tail some people and “steal” their shortcuts, but be warned. Half a second of ill timing and you’re plastered to the wall, which causes a regeneration that will likely cost you several places in the race and a lot of lost time on whoever you were tailing.
There’s also alternative race modes later in the game that have you trying to escape a helicopter shooting missiles at you, and another that has a series of transport trucks throwing barrels of exploding fun at you while you avoid dummy cars. The latter reminded me a lot of Death Race, with the truck they built.
Filling the bars can be done by drifting, drafting, jumps and by wrecking other people. The race mechanics are more arcade than simulation. For example, if you go balls out into a corner, if you’re bumper is parallel to the wall, you crash. But if you have much of any angle you’ll just bump off and keep going. That’s arcade action in a nutshell.
The reward program of what cars are unlocked and when is adequate. You can get nice cars in later “seasons” (levels) of the game and then take them back to complete tracks from earlier in the game. Its a common scenario in arcade race games, and it works well here.
Can I express enough how much actual fun this game is? This game is like Need for Speed directed by Micheal Bay and driven by John McLean. I had a friend visit me recently who played and after the first race he was having trouble breathing due to the balls out, push the envelope, adrenaline rush he experienced. Okay, I have a surround system and a 110″ projected screen, but still, if a game sucks, that won’t make it better!
The sound in this game is almost perfection. From the roaring engines at race start, to the whooshes that you’ll hear whenever you are drafting someone, or driving in a low ceiling environment, or narrowly missing concrete pillars. Its a great addition that adds to the adrenalin rush for sure.
The alternative race modes I described earlier are a great mix to add to the racing game.
The visuals are excellent. Its a racing game, so to me they’re kind of all the same in the regard that you’re going so fast you can’t exactly make out every detail anyway. Focus on the road! Just like real driving. That being said, the background visuals are quite pleasing, and some of the game changer triggers you can pull are amazing to watch. Like sliding an entire cruise ship off its land moorings across the track to take out any
number of cars in its path. Bliss! The track designs are quite fun, and the environmental variables change enough to keep the pace exciting and keep you guessing as to what kind of track might be next. I have no
complaints about the visuals in Split Second.
The split screen (as you can see) in Split Second can be vertical instead of horizontal, and to me this is the better way to play a racing game. You get to see down the track a lot better, which is far more important that seeing what’s beside you, if you think about it.
This will sound like nitpicking a bit, but I don’t like the menu in this game. You have to scroll all the way to the right of something like 10 – 13 options just to get to the exit menu, as its the last option available. And there’s no option to just hit left, once, at the main menu, you have to go through the full list. After playing such adrenaline fueled bliss, its hard to come back to a poorly laid out menu system.
Another drawback, that is no fault of the game really, is that the publishing studio that owned the game went out of business about a year after launching the game. You might think that doesn’t fare well for how good the game is, but you’d be very wrong. The problem though is that its not the easiest game to find. Nobody is producing it anymore, so you gotta find someone who has an old copy most likely. But its worth it! You’ll likely never find a digital copy for PC anywhere, and I had to buy it from Amazon getting a real deal DVD. Let me tell you, its been a while since I had to do that, but this game is worth it.
If you’ve never heard of Split Second, its OK, it slipped under the radar back in its day. Now that its available on Steam, its a free for all for all! Get this game, its arcade racing bliss!