PS3 Reviews: Split/Second Review

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Split/Second Review

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Graphics:

 

8.3

Gameplay:

 

8.9

Sound:

 

8.0

Control:

 

9.0

Replay Value:

 

8.8

Online Gameplay:

 

8.5

Overall Rating:       8.8

 

 

Publisher:

Disney Interactive

Developer:

Black Rock Studio

Number Of Players:

1-2 (2-8 Online)

Genre:

Racing

Disney Interactive has housed some of this generation's biggest surprises, so far. First there was Pure, which was downright fantastic and utterly breathtaking. Now, we have Split/Second, which is an unusual take on the action-racing genre where the environment is your weapon, and there are no pick-ups. In my Blur review, I concluded my bit by simply saying if you had to choose between both Split/Second and Blur, you'd be best off with Split/Second. The bottom-line is that both of these games are action-racers where battling is key, and that's more than enough to legitimately compare the two against one another.

First, let's go over how a game can have attacks without having any pick-ups. Simple, your driving generates a power gauge, called the Powerplay Meter, that you can use to trigger explosive rigged objects on the course. Performing drifts and drafting your opponents will build this gauge, which has three bars to fill up. You can either deplete the bars by using a standard attack using the X button - this is usually a smaller scale strike such as a helicopter dropping a bomb, a rigged explosive, an exploding vehicle, a crane that smashes you with a giant block, a truck smashing you, an exploding fuel-tanker, collapsing bridge and much, much more. You may have noticed that I called those a "standard attack", because there is still a second wave of madness that is so massive and epic that it depletes all three bars. By pressing the Circle button when available, you will be able to trigger absolutely monumental destruction, which includes a plane crashing down, a giant tower (think Seattle's Space Needle) toppling over, an entire construction site crumbling to pieces, a bridge exploding, and so many other absolutely jaw dropping moments that going further would probably be considered spoilers. I mean, there's nothing out there today that'll allow your car to get crushed by falling buildings or even an airplane…it's just insanity.

How the game mechanic works is actually very simple. When there is an opportunity to do some damage to your opponents, a trigger will appear over them letting you know that they are near an explosive area and you can trigger that action simply by pressing X or Circle. You'll have to be careful to not wipe yourself out, so pay close attention to what's going on up ahead. Speaking of paying attention, often times if you have multiple cars ahead of you, you can wreck multiple cars with one shot, which is always extremely rewarding. As far as how the game controls, I quite like the feel of the cars and just how sturdy the controls are. Your vehicles feel planted to the ground, as opposed to being overly loose and flimsy on every turn. Now, since I'm explaining the game mechanic, I should also explain the premise of the game, which is directly tied to the presentation. Split/Second is the name of an in-game TV show, and you are participating in its newest season. Each episode is a series of races, and each race won earns you points. The basic progression system is very simple and you've seen it done before, so as you keep playing you'll unlock more races, modes, cars, and tracks.

Unlike Blur, which forces you to play through the career without any quick play or practice modes, Split/Second offers Season, Quick Play, Online multiplayer, and Split-Screen multiplayer, so if you've played through a bit of the Season, you should have enough content to enjoy in the Quick Play mode. A total of eight-players can go online, and two can play split-screen which is a far cry from Blur's 20-player online setup and 4-player split-screen setup. Split/Second includes an assortment of race modes, all of which are rather intense. Given the nature of the game, a game mode such as Air Strike is a given; here the premise is to avoid incoming missiles from a helicopter and earn points in the process. There is also a mode that is the very opposite of Air Strike, called Air Revenge, where you turn the tables and attack the helicopter. Another mode, Detonator is where you're on the road course all alone…with the entire track exploding all around you! Detonator is a great way to experience just some of the hell this game allows you to cause, and dodging all of it is absurdly fun. Survival mode pits you against trucks that are dropping explosive barrels all over the track, hit them and you'll either wreck or lose a lot of speed. The premise of Survival is to pass as many of these trucks as possible and accumulate as many points as possible until time runs out. And when the time does run out, it's sudden-death and the entire course will be flooded with even more barrels, until you wreck yourself for good. Other modes include the usual such as Race and Elimination (last place driver gets eliminated when timer reaches zero). Trust me when I say that Split/Second is just an absolutely adrenaline filled rush, and definitely one of the best action-racers I've played in a long time.

Visually, Split/Second runs extremely smooth with never a framerate hiccup to be found. The game engine is always doing a ton of work, especially when you consider the kind of drama that goes on all around you, it's pretty intense stuff to render. The backgrounds feature massive structures and the draw-in distance is superb when you've got a vast view outside of the course. I also absolutely love the simplistic HUD that keeps the screen extremely clean and allows you to judge each and every turn very accurately. That said, there are some minor visual hitches that need to be addressed. For starters, anti-aliasing is sorely missing. Jagged lines are very prevalent all over the screen, marring some of fantastic details in this, otherwise good looking game. Keen eyes will also notice some pop-up here and there, usually small stuff like smoke or a shadow. Regardless, Split/Second is still a good looking game that moves at a great pace and boasts a whole bunch of eye-candy around every corner.

The audio is the standard: bassy-beats, voice over that guides you through the game, and lots of sounds that go "kaboom!" Blur has pretty much the same offerings, but Split/Second does it better. First off, the soundtrack in Split/Second is a bit more varied and not nearly as repetitive. Second, and most important, the sound effects are far more pronounced here than the other game. Where as in Blur attacks felt practically hollow, Split/Second delivers a much punchier sound that'll please your ears. Still, perhaps Black Rock could've turned up the 'boom' just a bit more - I want my ribs to crack in a game this wild.

All in all, if you like games like Burnout, MotorStorm, and the like, there's no question that you'll love Split/Second. The game boasts terrific heart-racing gameplay, great presentation, awesome game mechanics, very tight controls, solid sense of speed, bright visuals, and a bunch of replay value. This is definitely one of those games you'll keep coming back to time and time again.

6/10/2010 Arnold Katayev

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Comments (45 posts)

laxpro2001
Thursday, June 10, 2010 @ 1:01:00 PM
Reply

OO... I've been waiting for a unrealistic racing game for a while. The only one I absolutely fell in love with was Burnout 3: Take Down. (Paradise didn't do it for me)

Definitely going to try it Arnold, thanks for the review!

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spiderboi
Thursday, June 10, 2010 @ 1:04:44 PM
Reply

Played the demo of this and enjoyed at lot! Amazing how a demo can pack in so much explosions and flying cars. I may get this in the future :) Nice review Arnold!

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fluffer nutter
Thursday, June 10, 2010 @ 2:49:09 PM

The common consensus was that the demo was piss poor compared to the real thing so if you enjoyed the demo, you're in for a treat. I got the game and put in about 40 hours in the first 8 days. No joke. It was so much fun.

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kraygen
Thursday, June 10, 2010 @ 1:12:00 PM
Reply

Hmm I'm surprised, I hated the demo. It just seemed boring to me. The car felt like it was practically on a rail, too easy to drive. As for wrecking the other cars, was also too easy. I played the demo race 3 times and every time I trashed everyone on the first lap and then got so far ahead that I might as well have been driving alone.

I know sometimes demo's don't do a game justice, but this one certainly didn't win me over at all.

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spiderboi
Thursday, June 10, 2010 @ 1:18:52 PM

Well IMO the controls in these arcade destruction car games should be tighter than normal so that you can focus on mayhem. But hey, I get what you mean on the relative ease on getting past the AI.

Arnold, any nod on the AI if its quite challenging enough?

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Underdog15
Thursday, June 10, 2010 @ 1:25:12 PM
Reply

Nice review, and thanks! I'll give it whirl!

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FM23
Thursday, June 10, 2010 @ 1:34:09 PM
Reply

I personaly wouldn't give this game a 8.8, but I can definitely see where your logic comes from. Bought it yesterday, the game is different and for the most part, it is extremely fun.

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Random_Steve
Thursday, June 10, 2010 @ 1:38:19 PM
Reply

O how I want this, but i can't waste, as my parents put it, more money on games for the moment after Modnation.

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tridon
Thursday, June 10, 2010 @ 2:22:28 PM
Reply

I can't wait to pick this game up. I was pumped for it from the moment I heard about it and I definitely loved the demo. I'm probably going to wait for a price-drop, though. If 'Pure' is any indication, this should drop in price rather quickly (hell, you can already find it for $40 at certain places).

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NULL
Thursday, June 10, 2010 @ 2:24:23 PM
Reply

I played the demo and thought it was awful. Acceleration didn't feel right and the destruction mechanic felt cheap.

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nogoat23
Thursday, June 10, 2010 @ 2:29:30 PM
Reply

Yep. This is on my to-do list.

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mike rlz
Thursday, June 10, 2010 @ 2:30:26 PM
Reply

i do like burnout...

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NoSmokingBandit
Thursday, June 10, 2010 @ 2:47:13 PM
Reply

I played a few races and just got annoyed at how absurd the handling is. I know its not meant to be realistic by any means, but every car i drove just felt like i was driving through mud.

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fluffer nutter
Thursday, June 10, 2010 @ 2:50:23 PM

Wait until you upgrade and get all of the other vehicles and you'll notice a huge difference. The further you progress, the better the vehicles, the better the challenges and better challengers.

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Tim Speed24
Thursday, June 10, 2010 @ 3:54:28 PM

The cars do get very fast as you progress. Also they have loose and tight handling cars, which ever you prefer.

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ebterp
Thursday, June 10, 2010 @ 2:57:20 PM
Reply

Playing this now and can't agree more with Ben's review - just so much fun.

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Danny007
Thursday, June 10, 2010 @ 3:14:05 PM
Reply

Ive been enjoying the game. I still want to get Blur though.

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digitalmanAZ
Thursday, June 10, 2010 @ 3:27:57 PM
Reply

The demo is not doing this game ANY favors. It only shows one of the event types. Once you start playing through the single player season to see more of the tracks and unlock cars, it gets really fun. Well done Black Rock!

Tried the online early on and am not a fan of the variable ranking. Need to try this again now that I am finished with the season championship and know the tracks better.

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Underdog15
Friday, June 11, 2010 @ 1:53:24 PM

Woh, your trophy count is at 666

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NeoHumpty
Thursday, June 10, 2010 @ 3:35:27 PM
Reply

Almost sold on it. I have one question, though. Can I play my own music on it? This is something that my girl and I would play late at night while having a few drinks, and music support is always nice after the soundtrack gets old. Makes me wish every review had a small checklist on the side of extras the company offers.

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Zorigo
Thursday, June 10, 2010 @ 4:17:11 PM

good point. it could list feaures of online, split screen, soundtrack import and all that jazz.

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NeoHumpty
Thursday, June 10, 2010 @ 8:32:19 PM

For those of you wondering, it appears that you can't play your own music. Bummer. I really think this is something more games should take advantage of. Especially racing games and such.

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BikerSaint
Thursday, June 10, 2010 @ 4:05:21 PM
Reply

Neohumpty,
Man, I so like your idea of having an "extras" checklist included in the reviews.

Hopefully. Ben & Arnold can/will incorporate that into their review system.

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fluffer nutter
Thursday, June 10, 2010 @ 4:14:35 PM

Reply button, man. You can do it! :)

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Fane1024
Saturday, June 12, 2010 @ 3:35:58 PM

No, he can't, as he has explained many times. The reply button glitches for him for some reason.

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Zorigo
Thursday, June 10, 2010 @ 4:15:46 PM
Reply

Burnout? Motorstorm? Destruction? Lots of modes and fun?

My bag COMPLETELY

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CharlesD
Thursday, June 10, 2010 @ 4:28:09 PM

This style is right up my ally, and it looks like incredibly good detail for an arcade racer.

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BikerSaint
Thursday, June 10, 2010 @ 8:56:22 PM

Fluffer,
I did hit the reply button, and that was where the site wound up putting it.

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Shams
Friday, June 11, 2010 @ 2:23:55 PM

Biker, which browser do you use?

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dillonthebunny
Thursday, June 10, 2010 @ 5:40:39 PM
Reply

this game, its like RidgeRacer and The Stuntman had a child... its insane. the game makes me feel like im James Bond... its a sweet sweet game. if you didnt like the demo, you probably wont like the full game much, personally i loved it...

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BikerSaint
Friday, June 11, 2010 @ 11:41:23 PM

Shams,
Mozilla Firefox
Why?

BTW, couldn't reply directly to your post cause your reply button was missing, so I went down to the next available reply button for this post, which was a couple spots down.

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NeoHumpty
Thursday, June 10, 2010 @ 6:07:50 PM
Reply

I just went and bought it. Traded Modnation for it. All I can say so far is "Holy Crap! There's a 7GB install?!?" How the heck can Sony be thinking of making a "budget" ps3 with these kinds of installs? Luckily, I'm upgraded to 500GB from my original 40. Otherwise, one game could be around 20% of my drive space. Throw on top of that all the downloaded games I have and WOW.

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FM23
Thursday, June 10, 2010 @ 7:01:22 PM
Reply

Hey Arnold, you forgot to tell everyone about the rubber banding in this game. For those who haven't played it yet, it's just like any arcade racer when it comes to A.I. rubber banding. Progress through the season and races become harder than ever.

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ArnoldK PSXE [Administrator]
Thursday, June 10, 2010 @ 7:26:35 PM

I don't really think there was much rubberbanding at all. If anything Blur is a lot worse in that regard. In Split/Second, on medium, I could win races ahead by a few seconds. In Blur, on medium, I'd be pulling my hair.

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Qubex
Thursday, June 10, 2010 @ 9:43:41 PM
Reply

Arnold, regarding the graphics specifically; it runs smoothly simply because there is no anti-aliasing being rendered, which can quadruple processing requirements.

Whilst we have seen "PS3 exclusive" rendering engines, in games such as Killzone 2, use aliasing without too much worry, Split/Second, being multi-platform, would have not had those specific optimisation routines built in in order to use the CELL/RSX combination to the full... and render the game with at least x2 aliasing... therefore I am not surprised about the jaggies...

If it were a PS3 exclusive, it may have done better in the graphics department. I am not saying it looks bad, but as an exclusive, it could have been 30% better or so, and possibly, without jaggies :)

Q!

"play.experience.enjoy"

*Currently in SinCity, Singapore



Last edited by Qubex on 6/10/2010 9:44:15 PM

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Temjin001
Thursday, June 10, 2010 @ 10:10:57 PM

Quebex, the Digital Foundry has done a detailed examination of Split/Second. Many lighting routines have been implemented using the PS3's SPU's. And by the Digital Foundry's reckoning the game does utilize anti-aliasing, and a gamma-correct one at that. I'd recommend reading the interview on their site. They do go into detail regarding performance differences between the two platforms. As far as Black Rock is concerned, both systems are about equal in terms of graphics performance. ( Interestingly, however, the two best looking games this gen are on PS3 ie. Uncharted 2 and GoW3)

And btw, good MSAA implementation has traditionally been more prevalent on 360 as their hardware has been allotted some extra memory to help out with that.
Though games such as God of War 3 and The Saboteur make good use of an MLAA SPU edge smoothing technique that looks quite excellent without all the memory consumption. Let's hope more devs implement it going forward so PS3 fans have to put up with less fuzzy AA implementation.


Back to Split/Second. Unfortunately, while the demo analysis looked hopeful that the PS3 version of the game would be a tad better visually (full 720p), in actuality the overall graphics presentation compared to 360 is a tad below, at least by Digital Foundry's perspective. Who is a trustworthy source.

Great game regardless so go play it!

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Qubex
Thursday, June 10, 2010 @ 11:53:30 PM

Ok, thank you for that, I will do. If that is the case then they have done a better job than I initially presumed.

Yes... Uncharted 2 and GoWIII are superb examples of platform specific optimised code. Again, the 360 I think is "easier" to develop for... the idea of using SPU's and other trickery has really held back a number of developers.

It may be that many game developers just don't know how to go about using the necessary techniques to get the best out of the PS3, not to mention, that for multi-platform titles (generally), development houses will not spend the extra time or money necessary to tweak in order to get the best out of each individual platform...

If Foundry are reporting that the 360 visually is a tad better than the PS3, then it illustrates my point again, that for the same money, actually... in some cases, more money, we are getting "less" of a game. We agree that our platform is actually, when pushed to be proven, technically superior than the 360...

Again, it shows that exclusives have given the best results of all... in terms of visual quality anyway... game type and game mechanics can always be disputed across platforms, but visually, I think the PS3, if programmed right and optimised for, will end up giving you the better experience...

Q!

"play.experience.enjoy"

*Currently in SinCity, Singapore

Last edited by Qubex on 6/10/2010 11:59:54 PM

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FM23
Friday, June 11, 2010 @ 2:24:33 AM
Reply

Arnold...I haven't played Blur yet so I can't compared, but Split Seconds rubberbanding isn't as bad as MCLA's which was just frustrating. But I do believe I was cheated out of alot of victories based on the fact that opponents cars were somehow faster when I took the lead. After episode 6, I can'tplay the game too long because I start regreting turning on my PS3...lol. Exploding barrel dodging takes both patience, skill and a thing called luck (sadly common in every arcade racer I encounter...lol).

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Qubex
Friday, June 11, 2010 @ 2:30:16 AM

I noticed this too when playing the demo... dislike that intensely... hmm, who tests these games?

Q!

"play.experience.enjoy"

*Currently in SinCity, Singapore

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___________
Friday, June 11, 2010 @ 3:56:17 AM
Reply

im yet to play this been too busy with joe danger, alpha protocol and earthworm jim.
though i played the demo and it looked really good!

as for blur i dont understand what people are complaining about.
it is NO WHERE NEAR as hard as mod nation racers.
in blur i can come first easy, even by a few seconds sometimes on medium.
MNR im lucky if i come third, let alone 2nd let alone first!!!
at least BLUR does not have cheap AI.
still cant figure out how enemies keep deploying their shields every time i attack.
honestly im 2cms away from them, fire a missile and they deploy their shields and deflect it.
NO ONE can react that fast, not even fu*king flash!!!
mod nation racers has the WORST! AI in a video game ive seen in a long long time.
games are suppose to be hard, NOT cheap!

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Underdog15
Friday, June 11, 2010 @ 1:55:21 PM

Wait, what? Earthworm Jim? Is that DLC? I loved those on SNES!

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___________
Saturday, June 12, 2010 @ 8:56:53 AM

yeah they remade the original for XBLA in HD.
forgot how fun that game was, amazing so ahead of its time!!!
that is what were missing this gen.
back then we had a few games that were really impressive truly ahead of their time like earthworm jim or even goldeneye.
this gen we have nothing ahead of the times, either of the times or behind the times.

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Danny007
Friday, June 11, 2010 @ 9:07:06 AM
Reply

Wow higher than Blur? I'm surprised, I thought for sure Blur would get a higher score. Split Second is a good game though.

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Snaaaake
Friday, June 11, 2010 @ 9:51:49 AM
Reply

Arnie, wanna ask, does the power play gets boring after a while?

From the Gamespot review I read, it says that while the power plays may be amazing and fun at first, after a while you won't feel as amazing because you pretty much know where and what power plays are coming.

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NeoHumpty
Friday, June 11, 2010 @ 11:49:45 AM

Knowing when they are coming and where you need to go to avoid them is crucial. I'm playing Detonator modes to practice. In that mode they throw everything at you while you race the track alone for times. It's a great way to learn the tricks of each track.

...And knowing is half the battle.

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