Friday, January 25, 2013

Street Racing: The ...Jerry Bruckheimer Version

A combination made in heaven. This was like when I watched the movie Snakes on a Plane, my reaction was: of course, why did no one ever think of this before?!

There is a great number of driving and racing games, some better than others. There is even a number of shooting&driving games. However, Split/Second is a breed on its own.
When was the last time you had to race a collapsing overpass, dodge the load of an out-of-control crane or a wrecking ball, drive under a crash-landing cargo plane, survive a missile-firing helicopter attack, drift in an exploding airport hangar, or survive a Terminator-2 canal race?

Drifting (no wall-slamming penalty!), drafting, sling-shooting, close-calling crashes and General-Leeing your car will fill your Power Bar. Once it is full you can unleash PowerPlay attacks onto your AI opponents. And, trust me, you will hate them! From start to finish they will be scrapping your tailpipe - and you only need to slip for a split second to total your car. You can leave paint all over the walls but the moment your grill touches that central pillar or dumpster you are totaled. The good news is that respawning only takes a second - no time for the adrenaline to subside.

Choose the best car for the track and handling it will be no problem. Nevertheless, this is not an easy game - and, frankly, I missed those. Nowadays everything seems designed to be breezed through and quickly move on to the next game. Not this baby. Random events (not to mention unexplored shortcuts) make racing the same track feel like a new experience so memorizing the tracks will not be of much help. You will have to really hone your skills in order to advance. Quick advice: remap the PowerPlay buttons to something convenient as timing your attacks is essential.

Fallen behind and only half a lap to go? Well, drive your A-game - and make sure to... drop a burning bus on the opponents you could not overtake.Careful though: this knife cuts both ways. First, you must learn to avoid the attacks you triggered yourself and then you must be ready to speed around the ones your opponents spring on you. Split-second decisions are required throughout.
You are not a passenger so stop gawking at the scenery. Strap in and drive for your life!

The visuals will keep you at the edge of your seat and the screeching and explosion sounds will make the hairs at the back of your neck stand up every time. This is like actually being in a Hollywood summer action-blockbuster. My only gripe is that there are no licensed cars (what we drive is always sleek and gorgeous but, sorry, no Gallardos, no DB9s, no R8s, no Shelbies...) whereas customizing our rides is kept to a minimum. That would have taken the experience to a whole new level!

Split/Second, obviously, is more of a well-made arcade than a simulation game. And it is great FUN!
I had initially awarded the game 4 stars but any game that brings you home early to experience it again deserves full marks.

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