Split/Second - Cheat Happens Game Review
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Split/Second
PC, Playstation 3, XBox 360

Reviewed on: PC

Developer:
Black Rock Studio
Publisher: Disney Interactive
Rated: "E10+" for Everyone +10



CHEATfactor Game Review
by Joe Sinicki

   
   
   
Audio/Visual: 6
Gameplay: 5
Lasting Appeal: 5
Overall: 6
   
CHEATfactor: 6
   
     

It’s not enough anymore to just be a racing game. You need a hook. Mod Nation Racers has its customization, and games like Gran Turismo and Forza have their incredible realism. Split/Second’s appeal? You get to blow stuff up -- a lot. Much like Burnout before it, Black Rock’s high octane, adrenaline fueled racer puts the emphasis on thrills, but here, with obstacles like raining fire barrels and exploding jumbo jets – those thrills teeter on the edge of absurd. Just how much you’ll like Split/Second depends on just how much you like blowing stuff up because it’s pretty much all you’ll get.

Split/Second places players in the driver’s seat in the middle of the world’s most intense reality show. Essentially, drivers race and set-off incredible traps against each other in an effort to gain points and be crowned this season’s champion. The plot itself is very loose as there’s not really much progression sans actually winning or losing but it is an excuse to use some really slick imagery.  The intros for each of the season’s “episodes” (each race) and “one off’s” (single mission challenges) are done incredibly well and draw you in to the action quite nicely.

"...you see cars flying off the road around you..."

 
   

Without a doubt, the power play system is the heart of Split/Second. You earn points by doing all the normal racing game stuff – you know, drifting, going off ramps, all that stuff, and when you earn enough points, you’ll start to notice icons popping up on your screen letting you know that you’ll be able to perform a power play, which could include everything from summoning a helicopter to dropping bombs on your opponent, to opening a shortcut – even ripping apart entire chunks of the roadway.  It’s all thrilling really, and you’re likely to squeal with delight as you see cars flying off the road around you, but I found myself wanting a little bit of variety. See, these power plays are all context sensitive, so you really have no choice of what to do and when, just if you want to initiate said trigger at that moment. I found myself wishing I could use certain power plays in other situations, only to find they weren’t available.

The monotony of the tracks also signals another issue, there’s bound to be a ton of balance issues once the game has been out for some time. Players who have become familiar with the game’s 11 tracks (there’s a twelfth slot on the game, more than likely for DLC) will have a distinct advantage over their less seasoned competition because they’ll know exactly what cues to follow. Now, I know this is an issue for a lot of games, but it just seems it would be a bit fairer if the game even attempted to make things even.  I must say though, Black Rock did a great job at laying out these power play moments so no single one feels like a game changer.

It may be hard to believe, but underneath all of these explosions, Split/Second is actually a pretty decent racing game. Sure, it lacks the depth of a game like Gran Turismo, but the core mechanics are all exceptionally solid and help create a sensational feeling of speed. Playing through the game will unlock more cars and it’s fun to experiment with each.

"...there are the online modes, but it doesn’t take long for even these modes to feel stale."

 
   

Everything sounds great so far right? Not long after you spend some time with the game, you’ll start to realize that the game’s packaging is kind of thin. Sure, there’s a few extra modes (including a pretty fun survival mode that has you dodging explosive barrel throwing planes) and there are the online modes, but it doesn’t take long for even these modes to feel stale. You’ll memorize the power play triggers, and grow tired of seeing each of them – then you’ll start to wonder why the game cost full price. Hey, at least it looks pretty right?

Once you get over the initial wow feeling you’re bound to get the first time you unleash a power play, it’s unlikely you’re going to swear by Split/Second as your go-to racer.  Is it fun? Yes, but for how long is the question. With games like Burnout and Blur, each with a fair amount of extra content on the market, Split/Second can only be viewed as a worthy imitator. 

 

CHEATfactor

CHEATS USED: Unlimited Power Plays, Freeze Timers, Unlock Cars

I don’t want you guys to get too excited…but you can unlock a Disney XD car in Split/Second. I know, right!

Not amused by cars featuring the branding of a kids cable channel? Cheat Happens’ trainer has some great features that add to the game’s fun factor, but much like the game itself – only for a bit. You’ll have the ability to freeze both the detonator and the elimination timer – giving you a bit more freedom in your race. By far though, the coolest option is the one to unlock unlimited power plays. Sure, it doesn’t stop the game’s repetitive nature, but who doesn’t want unlimited access to stuff that causes massive explosions?

 

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