Some gaming gems are forgotten over time, some never get the chance to be discovered in the first place. Out of all the games that made an immediate impression on me when I first played and slowly faded into oblivion, Split/Second definitely took the top spot. Welcome to the third part of my ongoing column, Forgotten gems!
rock black shake
If you’ve never played Split/Second and you love arcade racers, know it’s not too late. Mostly forgotten — or rather unknown — it might be, but it’s still easy to find and play (see end of this article). Split/Second is the brainchild of Black Rock Studio, a company formerly known as Pixel Planet, then Black Rock Studio, then Climax Brighton, then Climax Racing, then again… Black Rock Studio.
And as you might have guessed, the studio’s story doesn’t have a happy ending. Acquired by Disney in 2006, Black Rock has established itself as a racing game specialist with the MotoGP and ATV Offroad Fury series for THQ and Sony respectively. Added to Disney Interactive’s growing portfolio of developers, Black Rock will become the foundation for Disney’s new gaming initiative that extends beyond children’s and family entertainment. Disney’s ambitious plans also include bringing in Avalanche Studios, Wideload, Game Propaganda and Warren Spector’s Junction Point Studios – with Black Rock doing what it does best and focusing on developing the games. Great racing game.
And that happened. While Black Rock ceased operations in 2011 and its talented team dispersed to other development studios, it managed to create two racing games under Disney that not only impressed our reviewers at the time, but also perfectly suited to modern surveillance. Its first game, Purewas an excellent ATV racer released in 2008, but the second game, Split/Second, still holds a special place in my heart to this day and has no worthy successor – in fact. or spirit – so far.
Michael Bay Adventure Racing
Released for Xbox 360, PS3 and PC in 2010, Split/Second is a rare genre of “disaster racers”. A game where the environment – and its gradual destruction – is just as important as the four-wheeled opponent. Looks like Roland Emmerich did a Need for Speed game, combined with Michael Bay’s Beetle Adventure Racing game. Nearly every race is bathed in breathtaking, perpetual sunsets, just to set the stage for the ultimate fireworks display and Avengers-level urban destruction. Towers fell, smashed, planes crashed and entire railway bridges buckled under the onslaught of explosions that sent train cars flying everywhere. Two generations of consoles later, it’s still visually impressive, even when the whole process runs at 30 frames per second. Watch:
The game revolves around a TV competition show featuring racers taking part in 12 seasons of carefully choreographed destruction. Cars build gauges of “power” by drifting and stretching, and can then use that precious energy to trigger environmental hazards that bring other drivers down. These range from helicopters dropping bombs, construction equipment plunging onto roads, to massive chain reactions that can completely change the course of a track. For example, a toppled tower could become a ramp to roof shortcuts, an ocean liner could be thrown from its dock onto a track, or entire neighborhoods could be destroyed. explosion to bury the race leaders under the rubble.
Watching this destruction unfold on screen is like watching a child with an overactive imagination play with their favorite toy. The cars will fly.
There’s also multiplayer, a Marc Canham disaster soundtrack, an invite-replay campaign structure to unlock new cars, elimination races, and even challenging missions that You have to try and avoid rocket attacks from helicopters or survive a chase with giant trucks dropping explosive crates.
So what went wrong? Everything seems set for the inevitable Split/Second success. When our first time playing Split/Second At Game Developers Conference 2009, we were mesmerized and covered the game’s progress in the months that followed. Disney Interactive also seems to believe in the game a lot, giving our team a lot of opportunities to play the game – and even delaying the launch of the game to give the development team a few more months to perfect the class. paint that final polish. Games shipped to positive review and players quickly discover that the ending of Split/Second directly hints at a sequel and promises: “to be continued…”
There is no sequel. A year later, MotorStorm: Apocalypse from Evolution Studios, Black Rock’s racing-focused rival, was acquired by Sony in 2007. Although not well-received, the game also combines racing with other games. disaster shakes the screen. Like Black Rock, Evolution is no more, decommissioned and disbanded after the release of the ultimate racing game, Driveclub. Several former Black Rock employees worked on Electric Square’s Detonation Racing mobile game, which clearly showcases some Split/Second DNA. Today, in the absence of a new Burnout, the closest thing to Split/Second might be the Forza Horizon series; though its racing action franchise is rooted in a bit more realism – while many pinatas were hurt in FH5, even the Hot Wheels expansion and Eliminator races didn’t end with Smoked cars were smashed by a demolition ball. In the end, there’s certainly no major racer that creates sweaty hands and blows up its stages as beautifully as the original.
Split/Second’s final undo could be a shift in Disney’s strategy to focus on “smaller” and return to character-based games. While Michael Bay is still blowing things up on the big screen, this decade’s mobile gaming craze ensures that Swampy the Alligator is a better choice for Disney than investing in racing games. AAA with a budget of $20 million and a two-year development cycle. Split/Second is said to have sold 100,000 units in its first month – not bad for a brand new racing car, but certainly far below the publisher’s expectations. Where’s My Water?, on the other hand, was downloaded over a million times in that same time frame that same year. In hindsight, it was and still is a lot more “Disney”.
Where can you play Split/Second today?
Split/Second has been denied the enduring success of arcade racing series like Need for Speed or Forza Horizon, but not for lack of great ideas and strong execution. If you missed it the first time around, you should absolutely play it today. I fired it up last week and was amazed at how intuitive it was – as well as how challenging and stressful the whole experience was compared to many contemporaries. Just be warned: no rewind. You will get blown up and possibly lose the lead if you are unlucky. But the task structure allows for easy execution, quick restarts and reloads.
Skip the PSP and iPhone versions (not that you can still find the latter), they are different from – and a lot worse than – games developed by other studios. Stick with the original console and PC from Black Rock. It’s available for $20 (and currently on sale for just $5) on Xbox Game Store. It’s also on Steamand it’s even included in Classic PlayStation Plus. The latter is certainly a decent choice if you’re already a subscriber with a fast internet connection, although playing the game natively is still a far superior experience. There are some slight issues with the flickering generator icons on the Xbox Series X/S that I don’t recall seeing on the Xbox 360/PS3, but it’s great to be able to easily play the game as I please.
Schneider peer (@PeerIGN on Twitter) is one of the founders of IGN Entertainment and has spent thousands of hours playing racing games over the past four decades. And he tells himself every week that maybe he should stop playing Forza Horizon 5… next week.