Sometimes, the best racing strategy doesn’t involve a fast car or superior driving skills; all you need to do is have bottles of lightning in your bag and the ability to just throw them at your hapless opponents at the right possible time. That’s exactly what Disney’s Split/Second iPhone racing game is all about. It’s not so much about the car as it is about what kind of sneaky Power Plays you have up our sleeve, all in the name of winning a reality competition.
To be fair, Split/Second is as action-packed a racing game as there is on the iPhone. Add that to the fact that the whole story-line is pretty different – you’re a contestant in a reality show, if you can believe that – and you’ve got a game that should deliver a lot of adrenaline-pumping racing right from the first ‘episode’ of the reality show.
Whether it does, though, is entirely dependent on how you enjoy the spectacle of racing in such a chaotic environment where no lead is safe – even if you’re racing in first place and you’re about ten feet from the finish line.
Details after the jump.
The graphics for Split/Second isn’t cause to jump for joy. As a matter of fact, it’s a little bit disappointing to our liking, especially when you consider that the game comes with all those Power Plays that makes the game all that more explosive and dynamic. The good thing about this game though is that you probably won’t spend anytime admiring your surroundings given all the circumstances – extenuating and mystifying – that happens from start to finish.
With all the chaos ensuing on the race track, it’s easy to get lost in the smoke if the game had complicated control settings. Mercifully, the controls are refreshingly easy. All you need to do to navigate around the tracks is use tilt-steering, making it easy to perform. When you need to brake, there’s a pedal icon on the screen that you can press, as well as the Power Play button when you’re in dire need of help from “outside forces” to catch up to the leaders.
As far as unique storylines go, Split/Second comes with a pretty good one that reminds us of that movie, Death Race, starring Jason Statham and Tyrese. In the game, you are – believe it or not – a reality show contestant competing against other racers in a series of episodic events that come with a variety of racing formats including time trial laps, eliminator runs, and circuit races. Sounds straightforward enough, right?
While these races are all held to determine your life on the reality show, there’s a far more action-packed element to this game that decides who ends up getting sent home and who ends up moving forward. Channeling its inner Mario Kart, Split/Second uses a variety of what the game calls ‘Power Plays’, a number of special boosts, enemy traps, and combinations to use on your hapless enemies.
To be able to do the Power Plays, you’re going to need to accumulate enough energy to activate the tricks you have up your racing sleeves. Energy is accumulated through a variety of means, including drifting, drafting, airtime, and a whole lot more. The more energy you save up, the more aggressive Power Play you can use (Personally, we found the track reconfiguration Power Play particularly useful in dire situations). On the flip side, your opponents have the same Power Play capabilities, making it even more annoying when you lose a race on the last stretch because of a desperate attempt from one of your rivals to keep you from crossing the finish line first. Sort of like Mario Kart, right?
Another thing that we found to be extremely infuriating are the cars’ apparent allergic reaction to just about anything that comes in physical contact with them. Unlike other games where cars keep running in tip-top condition after a hellacious crash, the cars of Split/Second are on another level of extreme in the opposite direction with the slightest touch ending up wrecking your car and, in the process, your chances of winning the race.
The game costs $4.99 and is available in the iTunes store.
Split/Second is the type of game that should be a lot better than what we’ve been given. For one thing, it’s a game that requires a lot of patience, strategic acumen, and driving skill – in that order. Try navigating your way around those three requirements and you might end up enjoying this game more than we did.
What do the others think?
PocketGamer’s Take: “Split/Second will be remembered as a wreck of a racer and not the great concept that could have been.”