Fast cars, mass explosions, the start of the first season of a brand new reality TV show… With the player as the debut star of the show. What’s not to love?
Before I get into the review… I would like to give PC buyers a “caveat emptor” (buyer beware) before considering the PC copy. I had bought the game for PC because my gaming rig is a stout machine and can handle whatever is thrown at it. I had bought the game on May 18th, 2010 when it had came out figuring “I can’t wait to game and start blowing things up.” Sadly, I would be mistaken. The game wouldn’t even run properly. I would have Fraps taking measure of frame rates and for some reason… I wasn’t running it at full potential. The game was running around 15 frames per second and would have game breaking drops where the frame rate would hit around 1-2 frames per second. I contacted Disney Interactive Entertainment’s support page and I was be in correspondence with them until June 2nd, 2010.
The one thing that they could not figure was why the game was just not using my graphic card. The game was just completely straining my processor. Mark from Disney Interactive noted that the game is frame-capped at 30 frames per second and had apologized for not being able to provide me any remedies as to why the game was not optimized for playability for my computer. Under Mark’s advice, I was advised to either return the game to my local retailer either for a refund/exchange or (if my local retailer would not accept either) to mail the game to Disney Interactive for them to offer me a refund/exchange. I ended up exchanging the PC version of the game game for a PlayStation 3 copy at my local Best Buy. Some people have had this issues from systems ranging through Core 2 Duos to Core i7 processor systems, while some have not. Your mileage may vary… If you still intend to buy this game for PC, you have been warned.
(Editor’s Note: This review is based off of the PlayStation 3 version. The online play community experience may vary from the xbox 360 and PC versions.)
Split/Second (also known as Split Second) has an interesting premise that you are a new ace driving star for the reality TV show with the same respective name. Unfortunately, due to the fact that the game didn’t get licensing for any real world cars…the cars are all fictionally branded and named. The design principles try to mesh with real brand cars. Like the Cobretti brand cars take after the Italian brands design and mechanical dynamics, while the Hanzo branded cars behave very meticulous manner like a Nissan R35 GT-R. The feel of the game is very fun. This is mainly due to the fact that Black Rock Studio and Disney Interactive Entertainment scripting the game to feel like a TV show. They have the generic dramatic announcer who sets up each “episode” for you. Each racing season opens up with an episode “trailer” showing you what’s to come in the season. At the end of a season, the game will even close out with a credits roll and the dramatic announcer giving you the trailer for the next “episode” of Split Second. However…this is where the cracks in Split Second show up.
There used to be an embeded media player here, but it doesn't work anymore. We blame the Tumbeasts.
I will be truthful. I really do like Split Second. The “Power Play” mechanic is quite fun. I mean, it’s plenty satisfying when you hit 4 opponents with an air traffic control tower crashing onto a runway and completely changing your routes completely. The Power Play bar has 2 ranks, Level 1 and Level 2. This can be slightly confusing as the game has a 3 part Power Play bar. Level 1 Power Play attacks can range from exploding buildings to temporary short-cuts opening up while taking 1 bar of the Power Play meter. Level 2 Power Play attacks can rank from anywhere to whole buildings being decimated and changing the race paths to outright allowing you to decimate your opponents to catch up while draining the entire Power Play bar clean. Of course, building the Power Play bar with points is done via drifting, close calls, and other fancy race work. This is where I have an issue with the game.
You can annihilate your opponent cars and you could be 4 – 10 seconds ahead…then bam! One of the computer opponents hits you with a Power Play. Somehow you magically end up in 6th place and struggling for pole position again. The “rubber band” mechanic is rather angering. You would expect it in a game with more slapstick antics rather than a game that’s supposed to feel like a reality TV show. In addition to that, when you take away the fun power play mechanic…the lack of polish really shows. The collision mechanic is another issue they haven’t quite worked out to 100% either. There are some collisions that are just a touch of a wall on the side doors and the car is totaled. Yet there have been times where I have hit walls straight on and somehow I have not wrecked out.
The other modes past racing do feel fun. I will give merit to how the achievements are linked to the decals plastered on to your car. As far as customization, that’s pretty cut and dry too as colors are your only option. Multiplayer is pretty poor overall. Matchmaking is extremely bad as it is almost pointless to jump into it when you are still very low level as other players will flat out slaughter you. The community as far as the PlayStation Network goes, the players I had played against have little sense of timing and technical driving skills. I know I was able to overtake many high level players and still clock 3rd place.
If you don’t mind the shallow nature of the game and can potentially find the game entertaining. It may be worth your money. I personally wouldn’t pay the $60 for the PlayStation 3 or xbox 360 version. I would wait for a sale on the game that would bring it to $40 or lower. I had managed to luck out with my copy being on sale for $40 when I exchanged my PC version (which retails for $40, a $20 discount from the console versions). Split/Second can be purchased from your local major retailer for $59.99 on xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 while the PC version retails for $39.99.