Speeding down an airport runway in a shiny red sports car is cool; speeding down an airport runway with an out-of-control aircraft thundering toward you is insane. That's the idea behind Split/Second, an arcade racer in which you wreck your opponents by triggering destructive hot spots scattered all around the track. The frequent explosions and tumbling debris are stimulating, but these electrifying jolts don't last. On consoles, the thrills were short lived but undeniable; on the PSP, the small screen and rigid controls make it difficult to slide your way past explosive events as they occur. Additionally, the limited local multiplayer is a real buzz kill, considering how enjoyable the pandemonium could have been with other players riding your bumper online. There's mirth and madness to be had with this shallow package, but the faults diminish Split/Second's fiery allure.
6284206Take 1st place early and often.None
Split/Second is all about power plays. As you zip about the dozen-plus tracks (one of them exclusive to the PSP), you earn power by drifting, drafting, and getting air. Once you gain enough power, icons appear, indicating an opportunity to take down opponents by triggering a destructive event. If you press a shoulder button, a helicopter might drop metal pipes onto the course, a crane may go sliding across the roadway, or rocks and boulders may erupt from a canyon wall. Alternatively, you might trigger a bridge to be lowered or a door to be raised, opening up a temporary shortcut. If you trigger a level-two power play after completely filling your power bar, the devastation is even more dramatic. A chunk of roadway could collapse, changing that entire section of the course, or you might cause that enormous airplane to barrel menacingly down the runway. Just be mindful: You could fall victim to your own power play.
The first few times you unleash your newfound power on an opponent are breathtaking. The driving feels fast, explosions and screeches are loud and obnoxious, and if you're driving a lighter vehicle, the powerful shocks might send you careening out of control for a moment. You won't always steer clear of trouble, however. Depending on your position and the timing of your opponent's power play, there may be no evading that enormous obstacle that comes crashing down in front of you. If you've ever cursed the unavoidable blue shell in the Mario Kart series, the inescapable events in Split/Second might annoy you. More importantly, the controls and busy visuals don't always allow you the finesse to avoid certain crashes. You can use either the D pad or the analog pad to steer, but with both options, the controls don't offer the necessary responsiveness when traveling at top speeds. This issue is further exacerbated by the sheer amount of havoc and rubble. Given the system's small screen, it's often difficult to react to a power play or even a standard barrier until you're right upon the devastation, at which point, it's too late to do anything but yield to your impending doom.
Relish the lead when you get it, because it won't last.