REVIEW: Split/Second (PSP)

It’s sort of an unwritten rule that almost every action film should have an adrenalin fueled car chase full of explosions with any disregard for property damage. If you ever wanted to know how that feels like then Split/Second is the game for you. Filled with flying cars, explosions and crumbling debris, this action packed arcade racer will laugh, cry, swear at the driver AI, jump for joy or possibly throw your PSP across the room. Whichever the result may be, you definitely have to try this game out.

Split/Second
Developer: Black Rock Studio / Sumo Digital
Publisher: Disney Interactive Studios, Inc.
Platform: Playstation Portable
Rating: E for Everyone
Release: 11/17/2010

The Gist of Things:

You participate in a fictional reality TV show called Split/Second where drivers race for money and glory. This type of racing is a little different from your standard racing. Tracks a littered with traps and explosives that can be trigger by the driver, these are called powerplays. So you drive around, build up your powerplay meter to wreck your opponents cars with and reach the finish line. Sounds simple enough right? With 27 cars and 16 courses to choose from, you can expect a lot of action, suspense, thrills, and a whole mess of explosions in this game.

Story:

Aside from the whole reality TV show thing, there really isn’t much else to the story of Split/Second. You have no character, you don’t interact with any NPCs. You just drive. Remember this though, once you beat the Single Player Season mode, I bet you’ll be as surprised as I was when that final cutscene rolled.

Gameplay and Features:

As I mentioned earlier, you drive around and use powerplays to take out your opponents. Powerplays are essentially your weapons in the game. No Koopa shells for you but I think a flaming bus rolling from the side or a collapsing building is a good replacement for taking out the competition don’t you think?

Powerplays:

Your powerplay meter is divided into 3 chunks, each chunk can activate one blue colored powerplay. Having three built up in your meter, you can trigger the bigger powerplays which have a red colored icon. Blue ones trigger small traps like setting off a flaming bus to roll over rivals or blow up a truck that could careen cars straight into a wall. Blue powerplays can also open small shortcuts that might be available for you to zoom through and take the lead.

Red powerplays trigger the big stuff, perhaps a tip over a docked cruise ship or call down a large airplane to crash onto the runway. Red powerplays can also trigger route changes which could change the flow of a race completely.

Single Player:

Single player mode is divided into 3 other modes. Season mode let’s you race in episodes. There are 12 episodes with each holding 6 events. There are 7 events.

Race is your standard racing mode which pits you against 7 other cars and your goal is to reach the finish line after 3 laps.

Detonator has you drive through a course as fast as you can while powerplays trigger automatically. This is one of the cooler modes because here you get that instant “action movie” feel with things blowing up everywhere and you having to dodge left and right constantly while racing against the clock to reach the goal. This mode let’s you see almost all the powerplays in effect and witness the grand scale of destruction that the game offers.

Elimination has you racing against a timer. The car in last place gets eliminated every time the timer hits zero so your objective is to reach 1st place and stay in 1st place as long as you can.

Air Strike pits you against a chopper which fires waves of missiles at you. Your goal is to survive as long as you can while racking up points for avoiding the missiles. Targets appear on the track and show where the missiles will land.

Air Revenge is a variant of the Air Strike event. Instead of just dodging missiles, you build up your powerplay meter. Using a powerplay will trigger a missile scrambler which will send missiles back to the chopper. You goal is to take out the chopper as fast as you can.

Survival will have you racing through a track which has trucks driving around. These trucks will drop explosive barrels and will try to slow you down. You earn points by passing as many trucks as you can. There is also a timer present in this mode. The event ends when either you reach 1st place or crash while the timer is down to zero.

The last event is called Elite Race and is only available in Season mode. The driver AI is very aggressive in this mode and often times activated the big powerplays. Stakes are high as you need to place third or higher to unlock the next episode.

The next game mode in single player is Quick Race. Here you have access to all 16 courses and all 6 event types except Elite Race.

There is also a Challenge mode available in the single player option. With only 3 challenges to choose from and only 1 course for each challenge, this feels tacked on a bit underwhelming. Destruction will have you drive around and wrecking rival cars increases your score and bonus time. Power Slide lets you drift around to earn points and bonus time. Keep On Truckin’ is the more unique of the challenges, it’s the same premise as Survival mode but instead of using one of the regular vehicles, you actually take control of one of the Split/Second trucks and instead of dodging just barrels, you also have to dodge rigged rival cars the explode on impact. Now the truck itself can’t crash but hitting the exploding cars can reset your points multiplier back to one.

Multiplayer:

Multiplayer for this game is simple and runs through local Ad-Hoc with up to four players. I wish it would’ve reached up to 8 maximum players so races could be more hectic and exciting though. It’s pretty standard, you can choose only 3 event types (race, elimination and survival) but have access to all 16 courses.

Split/Second for the PSP is a very good port of it’s console counter part. It did a lot of things right but the game is without faults. I did encounter a few glitches like clipping and me falling through the ground maybe twice. Some glitches worked for the better though, like one time in detonation mode, I kept crashing so I had to restart the event multiple times. When I paused the game after I restarted, I left it until my PSP went into sleep mode. When I turned it back on, the game said I completed the race and came in 1st place. So now I have one event in Season mode wherein my best time is 0:00:00. Another glitched that I benefited from was when I just fell through the ground and magically teleported in 1st place. I ended up coming in second place for that race but I got a good laugh out of it.

With the game being on the PSP, I’m sure it’s going to be neglected and looked at as a throw away shovel-ware title but it’s a very good port of the original game. Graphics wise car models could have looked a bit better but it’s very solid overall. Where the graphics shine is in the environments. Hitting powerplays look good, especially the big ones and it’s satisfying to blow up a dam, take out all 7 opponents and zoom to 1st from 8th place, both visually and personally. I do have one gripe with the game though, it’s nothing game breaking but it annoyed me greatly as I was starting out. And that is the crash physics, it looks so cheap and wonky on the PSP. I call it “gummy bear physics” because when a car crashes, it looks the same as throwing a gummy bear at a wall and watching it bounce off like it has no weight. It’s very minor and didn’t keep me from enjoying the game a great deal. I had a lot of moments where it clearly looked that I was not going to place in 1st. But one well placed powerplay can change all that. It only takes a split second to turn the tides.

Score: 76/100


(Original Post by Migoy)


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