Split/Second: Velocity Preview

   27/04/2010 at 08:13       Phil May       18 COMMENTS.
 - Split/Second: Velocity, Disney Interactive, Black Rock Studios, Xbox 360, PS3, Racing Game

When Black Rock Studios signed to Disney and produced one of the best off-road racing experiences in this console generation, people sat up and took notice. Disney? Black Rock? Seemingly out of nowhere they produced some beautiful screenshots of a game called Pure, and people scoffed thinking that the game couldn’t possibly match up to those sumptuous visuals.

Luckily it did, and though I found Pure a bit too reliant on performing tricks to get boost, it was a game worthy of a place in anyone’s collection.

Black Rock have moved back onto the tarmac with their next racing game, the annoyingly titled Split/Second (anyone who taps reviews into a CMS and has to escape every slash is probably cursing the developers for naming it thus).

A bit of a wow at last year’s various gaming expos, Split Second has now been demoed on the Xbox 360 so here are a few impressions.

Absolutely loved:

•    The sunlit visuals. Some really nice car models, superb environment graphics and plenty of excellent cinematic special effects to keep the whole thing looking and feeling realistic.

•    Great choice of demo track – the airport track is destined to become a fan favourite online and off, with a tricky couple of routes, shortcuts and some great possibilities for quite literally bringing the house down on your opponents.

•    Good sense of speed. The whole thing thrashes along at eye-blistering speed. It compares superbly with Burnout Revenge (the last Burnout game that truly gave the player a sense that they were going way too fast for their abilities to keep up with!) and doesn’t drop a frame when things get busy (certainly not in the demo at least).

•    Simple “specials” controls and deployment. It’s very easy to trigger events and catastrophes once you’ve built up your power gauge by performing tricky manoeuvres. This element of the game feels slightly easier to attain than some of the boost-trick stuff in Pure.

•    AI prone to mistakes. During the course of a few rounds with the demo the AI does seem to demonstrate as much numpty-thumbedness as a human player would. The AI opponents also seem to switch routes and trigger events in different patterns every race.

•    Multiple routes opening up as more chaos ensued. Suddenly the track you started the race on is gone, and all the routes have changed. A good way of keeping you on your toes.

•    The stunning demo reel at the end of the game showing off the other environments and just how much destruction you can cause.

Absolutely loathed:

•    The lack of a handbrake button. Though it’s not exactly a deal breaker, it feels like an odd omission, and sometimes using the standard brake to trigger a cornering drift stopped me dead in my tracks or span me round.

•    The camera shake. It’s realistic, but I dearly hope there’s the option to switch it off in the full game.

•    No real car damage modelling until you’re wrecked. Slam into an opponent or a wall, the car doesn’t seem to suffer but they do explode / wreck quite nicely when you drop an airport control tower or petrol station on them.


•    Lack of Anti Aliasing on cars. They do have a tendency to look a little blocky but if this means a stable framerate with no tearing, it’s probably the better option.

 The demo is pretty short, just a few laps of the Airport track – but it’s definitely possible to get a good feel for how the game will work. Black Rock Studios are boasting 80 challenges split across 12 separate “areas”, with a whole host of unlockable vehicles so there’s more than enough variety to keep things interesting.

Reminiscent of a cross between Sega’s classic arcade game Scud Racer and definitely tipping a cap in the right direction of the better Burnout games, Split/Second ends the drought of driving games this year with a frenetic burst of action. Keep an eye out for the game, which should hit the Xbox 360 and Playstation 3 on the 21st May.

User Comments:

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HairyArse - on 27/04/2010 at 11:59 wrote:
What with this and Blur in May it's a good month for arcade racers.

Flying_Pig - on 27/04/2010 at 12:31 wrote:
Hope we'll see a PS3 demo too.

Interesting that we're gonna see two very similar racers within a week of each other. I'm intrigued to see which one comes out on top.

I've actually got this on pre-order for 22 - a clear mis-price, but hopefully honoured...

peej - on 27/04/2010 at 14:22 wrote:
May is a good month for racers but it's slim pickings for the rest of the year. There's still the rumoured Bizarre Bond racer coming though that might slip to 2011. Other than that, there's the distinct possibility that this might be the year Gran Turismo gets properly released.

As far as arcade racers go, and from playing the Blur beta vs this demo I'd say Blur is a tad more tactical but both are going to be absolutely stunning fun online.

Flying_Pig - on 27/04/2010 at 14:39 wrote:
PS3 demo coming next week


peej - on 27/04/2010 at 14:51 wrote:
It'll be good to compare the two. Pure compared very well across both versions so I'm expecting this to be the same.

Flying_Pig - on 27/04/2010 at 18:39 wrote:
Well, let's see how I get on with it, and I'll see if I can submit something next week after a bit of a playthrough...

oneiros - on 28/04/2010 at 15:36 wrote:
I agree with many of the 'pros' that Peej has listed, but after only three races, all of which I easily won, I'd had enough of this. I think it's the Power Play mechanic that I don't like, and the way it restricts your offence to certain points around the track. With a full power bar, I was desperate to see a red hex indicating a level two event, but (possibly 'cos I was in the lead) none were forthcoming.

On the other hand, I've probably played the Blur MP demo for five or six hours now; I know which one I'll be buying come end of May...

oneiros - on 28/04/2010 at 15:38 wrote:
BTW: The 'event' graphics in those screenshots look much better than the hexes that appear in the demo.

peej - on 29/04/2010 at 10:19 wrote:
I'll be picking up both but yeah I agree that the events were too few and far between, and half the time I end up accidentally wrecking myself :(

Blur is better structured, proper licensed cars, loads of modification options, proper damage model (there IS one in Split Second but it's largely cosmetic till you get properly wrecked).

I'll be getting both but I bet Blur gets more of my time.

Flying_Pig - on 06/05/2010 at 13:28 wrote:
Having downloaded and played the PS3 demo of this last night my initial throughts are very much along the same lines as Peej: The game looks great, with lovely shiny cars and detailed environments.

Initially the handling model feels a bit vague and disconnected. Maybe it's just something to get used to, but it definitaly doesn't feel as sharp as something like Burnout Paradise.

Also the camera shake - especially at high speed is awful and there needs to be an option to switch it off.

Still, this game has the potential to be huge fun - especially online.

peej - on 06/05/2010 at 13:58 wrote:
I agree that online it might end up being really superb. There's a lot of potential to do the dirty on your opponents. Would like to have seen the opponent cars react to being slammed with a bit more force. It does seem to take a lot to sideswipe someone into a pillar or trackside object. No such problems in Blur :)

HairyArse - on 26/05/2010 at 12:01 wrote:
Really loving this. Been playing for the past couple of nights. Expect a review sometime soon.

Syrok - on 26/05/2010 at 16:48 wrote:
Good, good. Don't forget to mention the handling. Many reviewers don't mention that for some reason. It's the most important aspect of any racing game. :/

peej - on 26/05/2010 at 17:27 wrote:
The more I play this, the more I love the handling model. It's like an overblown drift racer and some cars are almost impossible to keep in a straight line because they have so much power going to the back wheels. Which is a good thing, trust me.

Saw one powerplay last night that just blew me away with a cruise liner going through a dock. Took 6 of my opponents out at once. Very cool.

Flying_Pig - on 26/05/2010 at 18:16 wrote:
This should be waiting for me by the time I get home :D

Question is - do I continue with GoW3, or give this a blast?? Decisions, decisions...

peej - on 27/05/2010 at 10:14 wrote:
Definitely finish off GOW3, it's worth it.

But this is excellent.

Flying_Pig - on 27/05/2010 at 11:32 wrote:
Well, the pull of a new game was too much, so Kratos will have to take a back seat for the next few days.

So far really impressed with S/S! It's got a lot more depth than I anticipated, with the various racing modes and brilliant tracks. Finished the first two 'Episodes' last night, but hungry for more :D

peej - on 27/05/2010 at 11:39 wrote:
Quite impressed that same tracks / areas have multiple routes across different episodes. Nice touch that.

Picking the right car seems to be absolutely key to succcess. For some reason the car I just won (some supersports type thing) was getting royally owned by the opposition. Speed was way down as was acceleration but it had pretty good drift and armour. Great in the truck / chopper challenges but hopeless in races :(

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