From the opening frames, Split/Second screams production values. The spectacular corporate splash logos are staggering in their beauty, fitting into the story as if they were the introduction of a new reality TV show… most shows on current TV wouldn’t put anywhere near this level of work into their titles. The flashy tutorial explains the (literally) explosive mechanics, and sadly, at some point you have to pick up the controller.
Split/Second is wonderfully absurd, the idea being that you build up a meter by drifting, drafting, or jumping, priming explosions around the map in the process. It really loves those explosions, and it should. The sight of buildings, bridges, and entire passenger jets falling onto the track and onto opponents is awesome (on top of the player, well, not so much).
Unfortunately, the game is slow… why the sluggish turning mechanics, slippery drifting, and even basic real world physics have any place in this world is baffling. The sense of speed is never there, and it not just that the cars seem slow; it feels like the entire track is covered in mud and they cannot gain any traction. While this lets you appreciate the visual splendor and not miss the epic destruction, those moments between big booms are generic at best, boring at their worst.
Maybe the one level demo provides a car not truly street worthy for Split/Second. We’re hoping the full game offers cars able to gain true speed, making dodging an oncoming jet something exciting, not a slow motion exercise dry action.
The Split/Second demo is available now on the Xbox 360, and May 11th for the PlayStation Network.