DISNEY’S SPLIT/SECOND VELOCITY REV’S UP FOR THE CHALLENGE AND PULLS AWAY FROM THE COMPETITION
Split/Second Velocity is an intense action racing game by Disney Interactive and is set within the world of a hyper-competitive reality television show. Contestants compete to be the champion in a made-for-TV city built for destruction.
We love our racing titles here at GamesMediaPro. So much so that whenever there is a new racing title announced we follow it like hawk’s until the date of release comes around and we run home clutching our copy like a giddy schoolboy as we settle in for a marathon session of high-octane gaming guilty pleasure.
First thing first let’s understand one thing right from the off shall we? Split/Second Velocity is not a racing simulator. This is not Gran Turismo, Forza Motorsport nor is it one of those awful touring car spin-off’s that commend your skill at being able to hit the perfect apex, or tackle a chicane with all the technical telemetry of a Lewis Hamilton clone. Split/Second Velocity is just a ‘balls out’ racer that leaves you feeling as breathless as you would be if you had just had a rival driver arrange for a helicopter to drop an explosive barrel onto the bonnet of your car at 140mph.
You see, that’s the beauty of a title such a Split Second. When all the rest of the driving sim’s are stood around talking about ‘power to weight ratio’ and ‘the benefits of fitting your supercar with ceramic brakes,‘ it is then that they turn round to find that some baseball cap wearing ASBO Boy has jumped into the cockpit of the car and is presently screaming it around the streets at warp factor 9 whilst pumping ‘choons’ out of the window’s as he puts the accelerator firmly to the floor with his Reebok Classic trainers.
And that is kind of the whole point. You can argue till you are blue in the face about which racing sim is the most true to life, and which title generates the most realistic simulation of the actual driving experience you get from being in a sports car, but at the end of the day, it’s all credit to Black Rock Studio’s and Disney for remembering that this is a ‘videogame.’ You aren’t really hurtling around the Nurburgring in your ‘souped up’ Aston Martin DB9. So surely if that is the case, then the emphasis has to be on which title delivers the most fun to its audience? And with Burnout getting a case of ‘Developers Tinker,’ it seems that it has been left to Black Rock and Disney to fly the flag for those gamers who like nothing more than hurtling round in a four-wheeled guided missile, blowing the hell out of the environment and opposition.
Split/Second has had the good sense to take a look at what aspects make a great racing game and combined that with a form of competitive combat on wheels that gives the title the edge over others in the genre. Of course there is always Blur for those of you who can’t make up your mind, as in a way that is a little like the title itself. But with Split/Second Velocity you get a game that knows exactly what it is, and what that is, is just great gaming fun!
The gameplay’s driveshaft is the environmental changes that you can affect from inside your vehicle as you compete in the high-octane TV series that makes up the game’s storyline. You are one of a number of championship driver’s that is taking part in the crazed world of the high-profile television executives dream of bringing to the viewing public a racing tournament that see’s the drivers able to use ‘power plays’ to blow each other’s car off the track in their quest for the feted Number 1 spot.
The actual mechanic’s of the game are simple enough. Get in-car, race car, obliterate opposition, everyone goes home happy. Well, you go home happy at least. The rest of the racing community goes either to the local emergency ward, or to the mortuary in a variety of cardboard boxes.
The actual power play’s that you use during the races are a series of controlled trap’s and explosion’s that do everything from building you a timely shortcut, to terminating your rival’s with extreme prejudice. We have heard of a few gamer’s complaining that the power play’s are rendered useless once you hit the lead and that they feel ‘detached‘ from the actual benefit of successfully extinguishing a fellow racers vital signs? This we cannot fathom as the power play’s are designed to clear the road ahead of you, thus leaving the way open for you to then take the checkered flag and win the race. What good are any form of power play’s if it is you who are then leading the chasing pack? It is then that your driving abilities are put to the test as you must endure the murderous intentions of the other drivers behind you who are all armed with their own power plays.
There are two main methods of obtaining enough juice in your ‘Focus Meters’ to gain the necessary power ups needed to sabotage the other racers. One is by drafting, the other drifting. With the first option you will fill your Power Up Meter by sticking to the bumper of the car in front, this ‘drafting’ technique then allows you to sit snugly in the ‘clean air’ as you gain the required bonus to fill your meter. Drifting also does this, and sometimes startling faster, but you will find yourself having to take what should have been a fast corner rather more wide than is necessary, as you attempt to gain the correct momentum with which to fill your Power Up Meter.
Once you have filled your meter so that it shows ‘Blue,’ you can execute a low-level power play. This means that you will be able to affect a single target or environmental trap. To wait until your meter shows ‘Red’ gives you the added bonus of having enough in your meter to pull off a high level attack. This let’s you affect multiple vehicles, and also gives you the option of affecting the racing environment by creating a shortcut.
Our one issue with the title is that we could not really damage the opponent vehicles by using our own car as an actual tool or weapon. An issue that we hope is corrected in the all to obvious sequel when it is released. For Split/Second Velocity is crying out for that magical second title to be created.
All told Split/Second Velocity is a genuine contender in the action racer category. With everyone else seemingly trying to create a game that is as close to the real thing as you can get, Black Rock Studio’s have found that the cupboard is more or less bare with competition in the category, and although they may be one or two in there with them fighting for first place, we have a sneaking suspicion that where a little tinkering seems to have put paid to the chances of one of the pretenders to the throne, if Black Rock just give their title a little TLC tweaking then they could have a game on their hands that wrestles away the crown from the upstarts and places it firmly on their own regal heads.
Graphics: As tidy a title as you will see in the action racer genre. Solid backgrounds with nicely detailed renders give a sense of genuine metallic bodywork being crumpled in the crashes. 7
Gameplay: A great mix of racing action coupled with some sizzling car-based combat that has yet to feel like the novelty of the power ups has worn off 7
RePlay Value: The game itself has enough thrills and spills and high-speed action to keep racing fans and action fans more than happy. DLC will add to the replay value of the title, but with the main area’s of the title providing so much competitive fun, we think it will still hold its own regardless of DLC. 8
Presentation: To summarise then. Split/Second Velocity is, for us here at GamesMediaPro, the No 1 Ranked Contender in the race for being crowned King of the Genre. The game is a well balanced mix of competent graphics with dependable gameplay that will stand the test of time. The inevitable sequel will no doubt be the one to watch for, but at the moment if it’s an action racer that you are looking for, then look no further than Split/Second. 8