Looking Back: Split Second: Velocity

  • Name: Split Second: Velocity
  • Also Known As: Split Second (USA)
  • Platforms: PC, PS3, Xbox 360
  • Developer: Black Rock Studio
  • Publisher: Disney Interactive Studio
  • Originally Released: May 2010

Split Second: Velocity was the revival of the arcade racing genre. The game brings an interesting setting and even more interesting gameplay. Split Second is presented as a television program. Each set of events make up an episode, of which there are 12 in total. As players progress through each episode, they earn points which earn them a spot on the season leaderboard. At the end of the Season Finale, the final episode, the points are finalized and a winner is declared. This means that the player does not have to actually win the Season Championship race as long as they earn enough points to win overall.

Split Second has fun gameplay mechanics that make it differ from other arcade racers. As players Drift, their Powerplay bar fills. Powerplays generally consist of blowing up nearby objects on the track as other racers near them in an attempt to make opponents crash.

When racers earn places through events, they receive points separate from the leaderboard points, which can be used to earn players new vehicles. There are a large variety to choose from, each with different stats based on acceleration, strength, speed, and drifting ability and with different specialisations.

The game features six unique event types to play through. Race is the default game mode, a standard race with 8 players. In Elimination, the racer in last place when the time limit runs out is eliminated. This repeats until one player is left standing. Detonator makes things strange – players race through a time trial by themselves, and most of the powerplays that are available in the track are used against the player. This can also include the vicious Route Changes, even featuring a runway where a plane crashes onto the player after the air control tower is blown up. The next event is Survival, consisting of players racing through a track while passing large trucks which drop explosives in an attempt to kill the racers.

With every truck the player overtakes, they increase their score. Players get unlimited lives, but after the time limit runs out, they enter Sudden Death, with only a single try.

Next up is Air Strike. A helicopter fires missiles at the players, who get three lives, and earn points by dodging the missiles. Like Survival, they aim for a high score.

The final event is called Air Revenge, a spin-off of Air Strike. Instead of earning points for dodging missiles, powerplay bars are filled. Players can then use powerplays to fire the helicopter’s missiles back at it, causing damage.

There are a few downsides to the game that may cause some people to turn away. The AI has obvious rubberbanding issues, meaning that even if the player passes them, they can always shoot forward to overtake the player again, disregarding the stats of the vehicle they use. This is presumably to give players a challenge, but makes the game incredibly difficult and removes any feeling of skill. You might be within sight of the finish line, zipping along in a sports car, when a big truck overtakes you with ridiculous speed and finishes in first place.

Another issue with Split Second is the maps. There are 15 tracks to choose from, but only a couple of different scenarios. Many maps take place at the same place as others, with just slightly different roads to race on. A lot of tracks even have long strips where they are identical to others, and eventually turn onto new roads exclusive to that track. The areas are so overused to the point where it is very difficult to tell which track is which based on the name, and in some cases, even seeing a part of the track. This can be extremely repetitive and irritating, especially if players are playing for 100% completion.

Graphically, the game is impressive for its age. The textures don’t look great apart from the vehicles, but the huge explosions occurring all around are extremely entertaining to see and at that point it doesn’t matter if a particular texture doesn’t look very good. It would have been nice to have better textures for some of the objects that are seen up close, especially in the replays, but there isn’t too much to complain about. The User Interface is very nice as well. The information is very simple, and kept just under the players’ vehicle and therefore in their eyeline. All that’s shown in a standard race is the position of the player, the lap of the race, and the powerplay bar.

The attention to detail is, needless to say, very nice to see. The decals on vehicles, for instance, are achievements/trophies the player has earned. This is such a nicely innovative and unique feature that lets players show off their skill to others. Split Second was not without its flaws, but it also didn’t bar itself off from new ideas, and that was why it succeeded.

Replay Factor9
Split Second is crazy and intense. Although there are problems that can be easily spotted, it is a very fun arcade racer that can and will be played for years to come.

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