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Split/Second Demo Impressions

Rev up your engines and prepare for one of the most intense and action packed racing games to date! If you’ve ever wanted to be in an action scene from a movie, Split/Second is for you. With the ability to trigger explosive events, use them to your advantage, and change the path in which you race the track, you’ll be sure to come back multiple times to see what you can do differently.

In the demo, only one track is available, but if this track shows just a hint of what the full game has to offer, I can’t wait to see what will the rest of the tracks will be like. At last year’s E3, a track called Airport Terminal was demoed. A little over a month before release, this same track is available to download on Xbox Live and Playstation Network. However, if you compare the two, you will notice many differences. For the most part the track is designed the same way, but I’ve noticed some of the alternate routes have been completely re-designed to add more action to those sections of the track. With these changes though, there is absolutely no shortage of action during the entire race.

What makes Split/Second so unique and a genuinely action packed game is the ability to trigger explosions during the race. When I first saw the E3 demo and heard people talking about it, I thought these events were automated by certain checkpoints but boy was I wrong. Drifting, drafting, and jumping will add power to your power bar. The bar is divided into three segments that allow different events to be triggered. When the first and/or second segment is filled, you will unlock level one. Above your opponents car will be a blue icon. When this is available, push the action button and watch as parked cars/buses blow up on the track, walls are blown out with huge chunks of debris hitting your opponents, or explosive barrels are dropped from helicopters waiting closely above the track. Filling the full bar will give you the ability to activate level two power plays. With this, bigger objects such as COM towers, buildings, and even the ability to change routes on the track will become available. Not only will you see an explosive barrel drop from a helicopter, but if you are close enough, you will feel the force of the explosion. Not only will you feel it, it will affect the control of your car.

When you first start the race, it just feels like any other track in a racing game but then you trigger these events affecting the rest of the race; one lap you could be driving beside a runway, but the next lap you could be on that runway. On lap 3 you’ll continue down this runway and in the distance a huge burning passenger plane is about to crash land right into your path. At first you are so focused on just driving down the runway, but then you look up and think oh sh** this thing is going to crush me! Depending on where you are on the runway, you actually could get crushed. Other times you might have to dodge satellites from COM towers rolling in front of you or drive under a burning road that was previously dropped. All these options and more are available to you assuming you have reached the right power level; something I failed to notice due to the action on screen is Instant Replays. At certain triggered locations, after you detonate, you can see an Instant Replay where it changes into an action camera shot. Another thing you’ll notice is the position of the HUD (Heads Up Display); if you are racing at the default camera level, the HUD will behind and just underneath of the car. This is a great location for the HUD as most of your focus will be on the position of the car not in the corners of the screen.

In total, I’ve probably played this demo about four times. Every time I’ve played it was completely different. First time I raced the track as if it was a normal race while getting used to the controls and triggered events. Second race was all about applying what I learned and destroying my rivals with any triggered event in front of me. Then I started to notice the route changers. Depending on the lap, these routes can be changed again on your next pass through. And again, on the fourth race, the track changed even more based on my triggered actions or the other racers. I know it will run out of options soon but how many other games allow you to do that? Usually there are separate tracks created with a new part open but in Split/Second, you make that change for yourself on the current race. Time junkies should do so carefully though as some paths may extend the length of the race resulting in a longer race time.

In conclusion all I can say is that you have to play this demo! Pulling the trigger and seeing a huge building crumble in front of you or a burning passenger plane come crashing right above you is so satisfying. The demo only lasts about 5 minutes, is single player and is limited to one track and one car, but as soon as you finish that race you’ll be jumping back in to the next race to see what you can do differently. I noticed that the car physics could use some work. Being a demo, it is expected, but with a month before release, can it be fixed? I really hope so because a car shouldn’t hit a wall sideways and bounce straight up in the air and continue racing. When the full game is released, 72 action packed events will be available in 12 episodes. Split/Second is set up like an action packed TV show – “A global TV phenomenon”. 25 cars will be available with 8 player races online and 2 player splitscreen. Other than that, all I can say is May 18th (21st for UK) can’t come soon enough. I’ll probably end up playing this demo right to the release of the game perfecting my time and keeping my jaw from hitting the floor.

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