When Disney purchased Brighton-based developer Black Rock Studios I honestly thought that they would have them working on a Mario Kart-style racer featuring Mickey Mouse, Porky Pig, The Wombles and other renowned Disney characters. Fortunately not only has Disney left Black Rock alone to do what they do best – which is make ruddy good racing games – but they let them delay Split/Second to add more polish. So, well done Disney. This almost makes up for the farce that was Lady and The Tramp 2.
In most racing games it’s the cars that are the stars but not here – it’s all about the tracks. Or rather, the ability to blow stuff up that’s cleverly strewn around and on the tracks. Drifting around corners builds up a ‘Power Play’ bar – filling it up half way gives the chance to take out rival racers by blowing up petrol tankers, buildings and dropping explosives out of helicopters flying overhead. Fill the power bar to the brim though, which requires some proficient drifting, and you can summon airplanes to crash land, detonate power station cooling towers and derail trains. Short-cuts and events that will change the layout of the track can also be triggered, like bringing down a tower so that the race can continue on top of it.
Because the literally explosive set-pieces always appear in the same place, recognition starts setting in and you’ll find yourself saving up Power Plays for certain places. For instance, one track has explosives rigged near the finishing line which is handy for nabbing the 1st position in the last few seconds. Timing plays a big part too – trigger an event too soon and it won’t even leave a mark on the opposition; do it too late and they’ll be watching those glorious explosions from their rear-view mirror.