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First Impressions: Split/Second (PS3)

Since I’ve been piecing together my new and improved rig the past couple of days, I thought I’d take a minute and recommend to you a game that I’ve been in fallen in love with: Split/Second.

Now, before I go on, let me make a disclaimer and say that I’m not a fan of racing games. Well, since my days of working in an arcade, anyways (I loved some of those). Driving Sims don’t do it for me; I have a car, driving a virtual version of it in a game doesn’t really ring my bell.

Enter Split/Second, a game good enough to convince me to go from ‘rental’ to ‘purchase’ three days before it was due back. Split/Second is a high-intensity racing game that focuses on the speed and flair of racing as only Hollywood can show it: fast cars and big explosions.

The main trademark of the game is the Power Plays. Power Plays, in short, let you blow the track to hell and back, taking down the other racers in the process. By drifting (sliding around corners) or riding nearby to another racer, you earn points that you can use towards executing these plays; if you save them up until your power bar is maxed, you’re able to initiate some of the most powerful explosions of all. These range from detonating a nuclear power plant, to totally changing the direction of the course. One blocks off the lane you’re in and sends you down an airport tarmac as a passenger jet speeds at you in mid-land.

Real blockbuster stuff.

I don’t know if the cars are real or not, and I don’t really mind; usually, I would. This game isn’t about realism, so much as it is about getting to the core of what made racing games popular in the first place: speed (and boy does it feel like you’re going fast) and the thrill of intense competition.

The game also features a full-fledged online multiplayer system, so you can race with players from around the world. The only real drawback is that the progression system pales in comparison to the likes of Blur. You’re also limited to only racing with vehicles you’ve unlocked in the Single Player campaign, but it’s so good, I don’t even care – though, I’m sure some people do.

As an MMO player, I’ve found the game to be an excellent change of pace from the slowed combat of questing. It’s very different and, yet, seems to address that social desire I crave in games too—even in single player, though multiplayer is obviously better. The game does this by displaying the names of your opponents prominently above their position: you always know who you’re racing, and you will develop a nemesis. Online opens it up to voice chat, which is surprisingly appropriate compared to the likes of Call of Duty and Halo.

So, if you’re interested in spending a little time with your console, and are looking for a exciting, rewarding, and, most importantly, refreshing game experience, I recommend Split/Second for at least a rental. It takes a little practice, but, once you get the hang of it, it’s easy to sink in to.

2 comments

  1. I wasn’t looking for a racing came, but this game jumped onto my radar real suddenly.
    I’ve heard bad things about the “rubber banding AI”, but what have you seen?

    1. Chris

      When I wrote the article, three or four episodes in (about 12-16 races), I would have said not bad. By season five, it really ramps up, though, and it’s a lot more difficult to place. Overall, it can sometimes be annoying, but it keeps things chaotic enough to stay intense until the very end.

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