GDC 2010: Split/Second PreviewBy Andrew Pfister - Posted Mar 10, 2010
What We Know: Split/Second is the blistering and explosive action racing title from Disney Interactive and Black Rock Studios that aims to take the white knuckle experience of games like Burnout and amp it up to an absurd degree by incorporating large scale destruction into races. Black Rock’s previous title was the adrenaline-fueled ATV game Pure.
What We Saw: Having drawn successive short straws for past media events, GDC finally gave me a chance to play Split/Second, the newest racing game from Black Rock Studios that finds no shame in being associated with the explosive works of one Jerry Bruckheimer. I, also, am okay with that.
The premise is simple: a reality TV show with a limitless budget is putting on these spectacular races throughout town. And it just so happens that in a case of tremendous short-sightedness on the part of the municipal government, that limitless budget is being used to destroy said town as the routes of the races are altered as the lap counter ticks down.
I was initially skeptical on how amusing these destructive catastrophes could be the fourth, fifth, or 23rd time you saw them happen. But as it turns out, amusement with the scenery was the least of my concerns. The races in Split/Second are extremely tense – in my demo race, at least, the pack stayed together throughout most of the course, trading paint and destructive Power Play attacks (smaller explosions that you can set off after accruing enough power). The “Route Changer” is the big daddy, and though nobody set one off in my race, I was on my toes and anticipating that it could happen at any moment. That’s how each race is going to remain fresh: not knowing when or where (or even if) a giant train bridge is going to collapse onto the formerly-open road in front of you.
I know that comparisons to Burnout are somewhat played-out by now, but triumphantly swerving through wreckage at the last possible moment and eliciting cheers from the people watching definitely gives me that same sort of feeling.