Monday, June 07, 2010

Split Second (360): Boom

This is a damn fun game, the surprise of the year for me so far.

I wasn't expecting much. I thought the combination of car racing and explosions would appeal to Eli 8.10 (well, and me, too), so I put it in my Gamefly queue.

As it turns out, and much to my surprise, Split Second is a blast. Almost literally, because explosions happen all the time in this game. They are all hyperbolic, and by "hyperbolic" I mean "kick ass." Big, big stuff blows up in this game, and it looks fantastic when it does.

The basics: you're a contestant on a television reality show called "Split Second," and the promos for the various show episodes are tremendously clever and well-produced. You race in various types of events until you earn enough points to enter the "episode," and placing high enough earns you entry into the next tier of races (and the next episode of the show as well).

So what, right? With the exception of the television show device, it sounds like every other racing game ever made, and in some ways, that's true. The driving model is very friendly and familiar (drift FTW), and this has all been done before, hasn't it?

Well, not exactly.

What this game does differently is combine an absolutely brilliant graphics engine and a likable driving model with boom. Lots of boom. Just try driving down an airport runway with a jumbo jet exploding above you without feeling an adrenaline rush. It's all absolutely over-the-top, and it's so over-the-top that it's impossible to resist.

Basically, you accumulate points by drafting, or jumping, or avoiding the boom of others, and when you've accumulated enough boom points, icons appear above cars in front of you that you can potentially take out via explosions of various pieces of generally huge machinery.

Or maybe a helicopter will just drop a bomb in front of the car.

If that sounds cheap, it doesn't really feel that way, because the boom is so incredibly cool. Eli 8.10 and I laugh all the time while we're playing, and it's fun for one of us to drive and the other to watch, because paying attention to everything going on is almost as much fun as playing. In the last lap of a multi-lap race, the air is full of debris, and it's spectacular.

We've played for about five hours now, and I don't know if the thrill will stay at the same level all the way through the game, but Split Second is something you need to play, even as a rental.

One final word: boom.

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