I present to you my entry for the best game of Generation 7: Split/Second Velocity, a game, at the very least, that would take the title for the weirdest place for a forward slash in a title.
Split/Second Velocity is an oddity to me. The first time I saw it, the title weirded me out, I hadn’t a clue about what kind of game this would be. Then I found out it was a game published by Disney, which only heightened my confusion, and for some reason, my curiosity. Since this was back in the day where you could actually find a new game in a rental store, I went and rented it overnight. The next day I took it back, went to my local EB games and bought it.
Split/Second Velocity is an arcade racing game with a twist, the twist being that you are able to drop giant chunks of the environment on your opponents and often yourself. The game itself is absolutely gorgeous. All the cars are nicely detailed, and all are original Black Rock Studio creations; the environment is very nicely done and is styled around the “you never know what can kill you” kind of aesthetic. I honestly can not praise the look of this game enough. The HUD is fantastically integrated onto the screen, and the environment is very detailed; the lighting effects and the way the environment is modified by the destruction you create is awesome.
The way the destruction element is used is simply fantastic. By doing drifts, drafts, jumps and other various tricks and skills, you earn what are called “power plays.” You can store up to three power plays, which are indicated on the bar underneath your car. Power plays can be used in four different ways: you have blue power plays, which will cost you one of your stored power plays and are generally pretty low damage, although some good timing can net you some pretty large advancements in place. These smaller power plays usually consist of random cars blowing up to trigger cranes to sweep across the track.
The second way is to trigger the bigger power plays, which cost you all three of your saved up power plays, but they can cause massive amounts of destruction. You can also use your power plays to create short-cuts; you can use a single power play to trigger a usually minor short-cut like bringing down a bridge or opening a garage door, which, if timed right, you can get your opponents to run into it as it closes, getting you even further in front. The final power play use is probably my favorite; you can change the entire layout of the track using all three of your saved power plays by causing some sort of catastrophe on the map. These range from dropping a smoke pipe on the track, blocking one path while opening another, to blowing up a massive cargo ship and driving through its still on fire innards. The best part of changing the layout of the map is if you time it just right, you can sometimes take out the entire field of cars in front of you and jump from last to first. In this game, there is nothing more satisfying then killing everyone.
On top of the power play mechanic, you also have some different race modes. These modes include a standard race, where you battle against seven other opponents, in a race to the finish; an “Eliminator” mode, where the person in last place when the timer runs out spontaneously combusts, with the last man standing winning the race; and a time attack mode, where you have to race against the clock while preselected power plays trigger around you. On top of this you have two very unique additions: a “Survival” race, where a massive truck is dropping explosive barrels on the track, a-la “Death Race,” while you dodge them to rack up points, and an “Air-Strike” mode, where a very angry attack helicopter is doing its best to give you a sample of what a laser guided missile tastes like. All-in-all, the wildly differing race types, mixed with the twelve tracks, not including variations, makes every race feel fresh and new, even on the fourth or fifth play though.
One of the stranger additions to this game is the story littered throughout the single player mode. The basic jist of it is you have qualified to be a racer on the hit TV show, “Split/Second Velocity,” a destruction racing show based in a universe where OH&S laws don’t seem to exist. The races are laid out into episodes of six races, four races unlocked from the beginning, one bonus race for wrecking enough cars through out the episode, and a final race where you battle against the toughest opponents Split/Second has to offer, who generally have vastly better cars than you. The single player campaign is laid out into 12 episodes, with a cut scene in between each, giving the game a nice theatrical theme to it. While the story doesn’t really add a lot to the game, it is nice that the designers did give it a bit of thought in a racing title.
The sound design and the way “special” effects are used in the game are very nice. Explosions sound nice, the cars sound like actual cars, the music is very basic but is overpowered by engine sounds, like a racing game should. The main effect used in this game is a camera locked slow motion. Seeing those words may make you cringe a little bit being a racing title, but let me explain. Sometimes when you successfully kill someone with a power play, the camera will lock to them, and the game will go into a slow motion mode. You would think that this would cause a lot of headaches while trying to drive fast along narrow and dangerous tracks, but the AI takes over your car as you are looking at the explosion, so this rarely proves to be an issue.
In the end, honestly, I find it a tiny bit hard to say this game is the best of Gen 7, considering the super high amount of quality titles, but saying this was the best racing game of the generation? To me, it’s a no-brainer. This game has racing, original cars, explosions, and most importantly, local multi-player, and in this day and age, that’s a selling point. The luke-warm reviews for this game and the release of another arcade destruction racing game, “Blur,” another great racing title, at about the same time means this game really didn’t do all that well, and a planned sequel was cancelled. If you have yet to try this title out, and are a fan of arcade-y racers, you owe it to yourself to give it a shot.
What do you guys think, have you even heard of this title? Have you played it and have your own opinion? Let me know in the comments below
This game was bought by the reviewer and reviewed on the Xbox 360.