Split Second cover
Split Second cover

Split Second cover

Split Second review & strategy guide by Honorabili

One Sentence Review:
“Non-stop action makes for an exciting racing game!”

Overall Score:
9 out of 10

Overview & Gameplay:

Throw your brain out the window and enjoy the pure fun and adrenaline that Split Second will throw at you in the form of a pure arcade racer. The game gets repetitive after a while but by the time you notice, the game will be over.

The game is about a reality TV show (very similar to the remake of the movie Death Race) that consists of immortal people (or I guess people remote controlling their vehicles) racing their cars and pickups around unlikely tracks that take place in airports, junkyards, nuclear power plants, chemical plants, foundries, mines, and so on, which have all been rigged with explosives so that as you race and pull off cool moves (drafting, jumping, and drifting mainly), you build up enough energy to trigger parts of the track blowing up and taking out your rivals, in events called Powerplays.

You basically participate in races, whether traditional who gets the first place, set amount of lap races, or elimination which is like last man standing, in which every set amount of time, the last car drops from the race. There is also a race mode in which you race against the clock with no opponents and the entire track will just trigger its bombs and have the terrain collapse on you, as you basically try to race a perfect lap (without getting killed). Each time you get killed, you basically lose a position.

The other game modes consist of you passing semi-trucks which drop barrels on you to try to blow you up as much as often, with that game mode ending in a sudden death mode which happens after a certain time or when you take the 1st place position. The final different kind of game mode consists of you trying to evade a combat helicopter which randomly fires rockets at shown areas of the track ahead of you. There’s a mode where you just see how far you can survive and another mode where the more you evade it and drift, the more energy you build up and counter attack the helicopter to try to shoot it down.

The final game mode for each “episode”, for which there are 12 which complete the season (single player storyline mode), is the elite race in which you race against the best AI racers the computer has to offer and requiring you to place usually 3rd place or higher to keep moving to the next episode (set of races) available in Split Second.

Overall, there are 12 episodes in Split Second, with 6 races offered in each, 4 that are always available, one bonus race (which unlocks if you meet its requirements; usually killing a certain amount of rivals), and the elite race which unlocks after you have enough credits (money) from placing good enough in previous races (it’s a total number, so you can go back and replay previous episode races if you’re lacking in performance).

There are no upgrades for vehicles and the game is rather short. After races, you get a certain amount of credits which the game automatically counts towards unlocking the next vehicle. You don’t get to pick. The only thing you get to pick is what episode you want to complete in next after the current episode is over.

The game offers the single player campaign (season play), quick play (which you get by unlocking tracks and game modes in season play), online multiplayer play, LAN play, and split screen hotseat play.

Split Second is available on PC, Playstation 3, Xbox 360, iPhone OS, and on Java ME platforms.

Fun Factor & Replayability:

The game is pure FUN. This game goes to the core of classic video games where the storyline might not be the greatest but you can pick up and put the game down very quickly and the game is FUN enough that you will want to keep playing, even though the races are short enough that you can literally play the game for 3 minutes at a time and go do something else if you need to. In my busy life, this appeals to me.

The fact that the speed scaling of the game is realistically done, although the game itself is not realistic reminds me of really going dangerously fast in a real car. Let’s see… pure speed and big explosions mixed together? That’s a winning combination!

I just beat the game but I am going to play it all over again right now and I’m certain that it will be fun yet again.

Fun Factor gets a score of 10 out of 10 and Replayability gets a score of 9 out of 10 from me.

Difficulty & Difficulty Versatility:

Unfortunately, I found the game rather short and easy, which I guess is one of the only real long term downsides of this game. I think they will probably update the game with DLC, which might add more life to it but other than that, as far as difficulty, I never got frustrated even once in the game as the death penalty is not really severe. Even if I failed a race, I didn’t find it annoying to redo it as the game was too fun.

Difficulty gets a score of 3 out of 10 and since I didn’t see a way to alter the difficulty, the Difficulty Versatility gets a score of 3 out of 10 as every level other is equally easy than the elite races.

Value:

You can pick up Split Second, every version here in gogamer. At this time the PS3 and Xbox 360 versions are $49.90, which are too high for me, but the PC version is $38.90, which is still too high for me.

Console pricing I give a score of 3 out of 10 because console games unless old games are ALWAYS too expensive, and the PC version I give a 4 out of 10 because the game is too short for that price tag.

Sound:

Sounds for the explosions are really well done, as well as the wind of flying through different kinds of buildings and their environments. Some of the engine sounds didn’t sound realistic for some of the vehicles. Sometimes a vehicle like a pickup truck that would have had something like a V8-V12 gas or diesel engine in real life sounded more like an inline 4 engine with a fart-can muffler. One of the cars (the one that looks like a Lamborghini Murcielago) sounded more like a car with a turbocharged inline 6 engine rather than a naturally aspired V12.

The Sounds get a score of 8 out of 10.

Music:

The music is all tense energetic music which keeps you focused on the action and the style of the game.

It goes along really great with the speed, action, and explosions Split Second gives us. Music gets a score of 10 out of 10.

Stability/Reliability:

The game crashed for me only when I decided to ALT-TAB it. It let me do whatever I wanted in the desktop and once I ALT-TABbed back to the game my computer rebooted itself instantly. Since that’s the only situation in which that happens, I give Stability/Reliability a score of 8 out of 10. Just don’t multitask and you’ll be fine.

Controls:

The controls are very simple and since the game is an arcade racer, the game doesn’t need anything else. For the PC version, the arrow keys control your car. Forward/up make you accelerate, left/right are obvious, back/down makes you brake and can trigger drifts. Right-CTRL triggers your typical level 1 attacks (Powerplays). Right shift triggers your level 2 super-attacks (the ones that change the route of the race).

Since the Controls are so simple yet effective I give controls a score of 10 out of 10.

Graphics & Performance:

Even in DirectX 9, the game looks completely amazing. The game makes the best use I’ve seen of the Havoc engine. Even on my 3 year old gaming PC the game ran completely flawless, not even slowing down when somebody was copying data from my hard drive at the same time. Graphics get a score of 10 out of 10 and Performance also gets a score of 10 out of 10. Really, really good job Black Rock Studio! Kudos!

Strategy Guide:

I usually go for cars that have everything into acceleration or into top speed. Don’t worry too much about strength (hit points) as that will usually indicate a heavy vehicle (with terrible acceleration).

Pickup trucks are surprisingly powerful in the game not only because they take a ridiculous amount of damage but because for some reason (which is unrealistic) they have a super-high top speed. They have terrible acceleration so try not to slow down as much as possible. Simply taking advantage of that and not slowing down along with their stable 4 wheel drive will make you have an average top speed than your rivals, often letting you win most races.

Like in all racing games, memorize the tracks. Know where the booby trap areas are and avoid them if you want to be on the safe side. Blowing up and losing 1-2 seconds will cost you a couple of positions usually. Stay as close to ahead of the pack and don’t blow all your Powerplay energy necessarily because you have it. Time it so that you can use it to secure your 1st place position near the end of the race.

For the helicopter missions pick always the cars that have the most control for your playstyle and you can just ignore the missiles easily. For the truck barrel missions simply pick any car that his insane acceleration and even more so super-high top speed.

Conclusion & My History With This Game:

At times, the game reminded me of Speed Busters: American Highways from 1998, in the sense that you can sometimes in that game use the track to take out your opponents. Other times, considering how quickly the computer cars caught up to me, it made me think they were just simply teleporting behind me sort of like the AI cars did in Megarace 1 and 2.

As far as I go since this game game out at nearly the same time as Blur, I’m going to be checking that game out soon to see which one is the superior game. So far this is keeping me entertained.

  • Excellent in-depth review! Looking forward to the “fun” factor from the game now! 😀