When I saw the Disney booth at PAX this year, I must stay I was expecting to see the latest movie tie in. Imagine my surprise, then when I saw what they had on display. Split Second is an entirely new IP, an arcade racer with emphasis on speed and explosions. Imagine if San Francisco Rush was directed by Michael Bay. We spent some time playing it and talked about what this game has to offer.
In terms of plot, not that you really need one in a racing game, this game puts you in the role of a contestant on a reality show called Split Second. Each course is actually a set, and every inch of it is custom designed for mayhem. Racing and drifting gradually builds a meter that is used for Power Plays. Coming in three different power levels, Power Plays are used to trigger the stage hazards. Low level activations, for instance, might cause off track explosives to go off, creating a shock wave that could wreck a car or send it careening of course, depending on how close they are. The level three power plays are a different beast altogether. In once case activating one caused what looked like the space needle to detonate, collapsing on top of a handful of racers and becoming a ramp that completely altered the track. These changes persist, so the course alters as the race progresses. Bridges collapse, garbage trucks surge out in front of you, storefronts explode, and a helicopter drags a dump truck all over the road, all while you try to keep control of a speeding car. The name Split Second could be a better description, since it is exactly how long you have to react.
This is certainly no driving simulator, and nor is it intended to be. Drifting, which is central to the gameplay, was a little tricky at first, but the raw speed of the game and the hugely effective Power Plays go a long way toward leveling the playing field after mishaps. Only the race mode of the game was on display, but we were told that other modes will be included, such as a survival mode that has you dodging flaming barrels dropped from a semi-truck.
Split Second will be coming out on May 18th for PS3, 360, and PS3.