We already have our serious racers from simulation to rally taken care of. Then we have the small selection of themed kart racers. The thing is, as much as we love fun simple racers, sometimes we’d rather they not have cute Sonic or Madagascar characters all over them. There doesn’t seem to be a well-known alternative to Mario Kart out there on the 360 or PS3. Well until Blur that is, which most of us are looking forward to. So it was a surprise to see another arcade racer join the mix under the name Split/Second: Velocity.
Don’t get me wrong, Split/Second isn’t like Blur or Mario Kart at all. In fact, I was surprised to see it wasn’t when it didn’t fit in as a serious racer. What is Split/Second offering which the many other racers out there aren’t? It’s Adrenaline. Seriously!
Split/Second is what racing boils deep down to: Fast cars, awesome tracks and a hot-blooded soundtrack. Just this time it mixes things up. If you ever get fed up with making one simple mistake that pushes you to the back and keeps you there, then you might want to have a closer look at what Split/Second has to offer. The tracks are rigged to cause everyone to get knocked about, blown up or spin out of control, allowing those who learn the track and drive well the chance of winning.
Split/Second’s tracks are like huge Hollywood sets, triggered to explode on all sorts of scales when activated. You gain trigger actions by drifting, drafting and narrowly missing hazards, and once you have enough points you can trigger an action on the track, which can cause all sorts of chaos for your opponents.
At one point during our multiplayer preview at Disney’s offices, we were on a large harbour styled track, one of the drivers activated a point on the map that caused a huge cruise liner to collapse onto the track, taking out anyone driving below it. Any clever cookie would have slowed down and driven around the huge wreckage, but for others it was too late to save themselves. After managing to dodge the huge ship, I was met by a helicopter dropping a bomb from above, pushing me back from 2nd place to 5th. Then, a few seconds later, I had gained enough points to activate a crane to swoop across the track taking out anyone in front of me, putting me comfortably into first place. My heart was going, worrying that at any time one of the huge set pieces around me could cause all sorts of havoc on the track and pop me back into last place again. It was exhilarating and excruciating at the same time, making each race an intense one.
While the trigger points can cause boulders to drop, the ground to fall, cranes to swoop and helicopters to attack, they also activate short cut routes to open up for a short amount of time. You must be careful not to just rush off into someone else’s activated short cut, as you could reach it too late and crash as it closes on you.
Switching modes to something a bit more challenging, we were popped into a match of survival. Here you weave around exploding flammable barrels all while trying to take over the huge trucks that drop them whilst also dodging out of your opponent’s way. You gain points for staying alive and multipliers for each 3 trucks you take over. Everyone is trying to drive safe on a track full of hazards and each driver will try to push you into danger at every chance they get. Even the trucks play unfair by crushing you into the side of the track should you get in the way of their route.
There are even more modes available to check out, specifically some crazy helicopter battles that we’d love to have had some hands-on time with. It’s strange to realise how quiet Disney have been keeping Split/Second: Velocity. The game is an intense and hilarious multiplayer experience that any driver, experienced or rookie, can enjoy. While we have yet to experience more time with the single player modes, Split/Second is proving itself to be an exciting racer for consoles this year and different enough to tackle any rivalry headed its way.