Split Second – When Speed is Not Enough
Split Second: Velocity (Split Second – stylised Split/Second) is an arcade racing video game developed by Black Rock Studio and published by Disney Interactive Studios for Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 3, and Xbox 360. Revealed in March 2009, the game was released in May 2010. In the game, players take part in a fictional reality TV show, consisting of a variety of events, each focusing on destructible environments triggered remotely by driver actions known as “powerplays”.
In Split Second: Velocity, players take part in a fictional reality TV program where participants race for money and glory. Throughout a race, players can build up their “powerplay” meter by performing stunts such as jumps and precision driving such as drafting and drifting. As the player builds up their meter, special events can be triggered which create obstacles for other players, create shortcuts or alter the race course entirely. These triggers are also activated by the player’s AI opponents.
Such events include explosions, airplane crashes and building collapses. The severity of the events available to trigger varies depending on how full the player’s meter is. The first level of events are available when one of the three bars on the HUD are full and the most extreme can only be triggered once all three are full. Event locations, and the vehicles they will affect, are highlighted with blue icons for the level one powerplays, and red icons for level two, and the player must time the action accurately in order to hinder his or her competitors as much as possible. One section of the powerplay meter resets once a level one event is triggered, so the player must also strategise to choose whether to activate the less destructive first-level events as soon as they are available, or save their powerplay points for longer and build them up further in order to use the top-tier actions.
There are also certain powerplays that reset for the next lap, such as bombs dropped from helicopters, small environmental changes and secret shortcuts, but there will also be powerplays that will never reset, until the race is finished, restarted or quit. Black Rock Studios also wanted to make the HUD as simple as possible by taking away all unnecessary elements such as the speedometer and the track map (rendered useless due to the dynamic nature of the track) leaving only the lap count, position that the player is in, and the powerplay meter, all positioned behind the car itself, so as to leave more room to display visuals.
Using the reality TV show premise, the game is broken up into 72 events across 12 episodes, with different modes available. One such mode, “Survival”, has the player racing along a given track, while contending with a time limit and a series of trucks rolling colored barrels out of the back to stop the player reaching the finish in time. Blue barrels takes away seconds and red barrels result in instant death, followed by a respawn. Overtaking a truck will add extra seconds to the timer. When the timer runs out, the game goes into a sudden death phase where the next fatal impact will end the race. Another mode, “Air Attack”, sees the player dodge incoming missile fire from a helicopter. The power-play gauge acts as a way to steer the missiles back at the helicopter in “Air Revenge”, ultimately destroying it.
The game also has a multiplayer mode, with both 8-player online and 2-player split-screen offline available.