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Split/Second looks like a serious racer, plays like an arcade game and really does have something for everyone. Even with Blur hot on its heals this is a technically impressive achievement.
The team behind Pure return with this, although they once said they will never make a Kart racer. Now don't get me wrong this isn't in the same vain as other Kart racers like Modnation or Mario Kart, this is something for the grownups that want a bit more of a rush - closer to Blur.
The game takes a TV Show aesthetic with both presentation and structure. But surprisingly it doesn't feel intrusive over overblown. It really reminds me of the 1980's film Death Race 2000 with its recent prequel starring Jason Statham. I'm willing to bet that was one of the main inspirations for this game, minus the blood of course.
In the film the Drivers were to out race the other drivers and course them to crash, blow up, or generally cross the finish line by any means possible. The game delivers a similar technical experience, cleverly handing over the detonator button to the driver.
In order to pull the trigger on the exquisitely set-up dangers and explosions you have to gain points by drafting, drifting, passing over jumps and overtaking close calls.
Powering this bar to level 1, or 2, will allow you to blow up cars parked at the side, busses and a few other little things like the ground floor of a building, but with a level 3 power play, you can unleash devastating attacks, such as a helicopter or plane crashing or better yet Route Changers.
From a design perspective, this is where the game excels. Particle effects, animations, physical distortions, not to mention probably a ton of complex rending are all put to work as towering buildings collapse. Most impressive that even in two player the not once does the frame rate drop - the action and visuals stay top notch bring along with it plenty of jaw dropping moments.
This is cleverly put together to preserve that all important sense of speed.
This is cleverly put together to preserve that all important sense of speed. The vast amount of smoke must certainly help the engine as it hides plenty of scenery. Then layered over the top are visual effects like the motion blur that paper over any cracks. Regardless of the tech and technique behind all this, the result is stunning.
Unleashing these at the right moment and you can blow multiple opponents and change the course at the same time. Not only does this create a great moment in the race but also changes the track for the remainder which keeps them fresh.
In terms of the racing, this route changing is a real high point. Not only will doing this for the first time bring a smile to your face, but it also changes the tactics other drivers need to use to win.
By keeping a focus on both an impressive fun visual experience as well as on the racing this is a game that both sets of gamers will enjoy.
What Black rock have done here, is clever. This straddles both Kart and Simulation racing genres well. By keeping a focus on both an impressive fun visual experience as well as on the racing this is a game that both sets of gamers will enjoy.
Split/Second: Velocity is great technical fun. It brings simple but intense game play of a Kart racer, while having enough growl to pull in the more serious racers. For a designer like me, it is this, more than the visuals that is the most impressive technical aspect here.
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