Split/Second Off-Screen Video

VG247 seem rather excited about Black Rock racer Split/Second, and they’ve supplied a video from the demo of the game at the Eurogamer Expo in Leeds, UK, which I’ve posted below. It shows of some of the track-exploding special powers, things destroyed and burning on the track, and a glimpse of the other craziness that the full game will feature. The car having its own HUD readouts attached is an intriguing touch. I can’t say I’m massively excited about this one, but it’s promising. Apparently it’s out early next year on PC, published by Disney. Bizarrely, the official site seems to be the game’s Facebook page.


  1. Flobulon says:

    I’m going to the expo today, will report back!
    Well, no, I won’t, but I’ll have a play on it, and that’s the BEST I CAN OFFER!

  2. LewieP says:

    “The car having its own HUD readouts attached is an intriguing touch”

    It’s called a “CUD”, in my head at least. Car up display.

    I’m sure it’ll be fun, but that video doesn’t seem to show too much worth getting excited over. I have however been hearing excellent things about Brink from PAX/Eurogamer Expo attendees. Enough to make me anticipate hearing about it on Friday.

  3. TotalBiscuit says:

    So I played this at Firstlook in Amsterdam. It is pretty as all hell, easily the best looking racing game I’ve ever seen. The feeling of speed is there, I like the extremely minimal hud design, it’s very stylish and yet functional at the same time. The game gave me a Speed Devils vibe, an old racing game for the Dreamcast in which the courses worked against you by presenting various hazards depending on which lap you were on. Split/Second does the same thing only in a much more impressive manner.

    The real thumbs down that it gets from me though is the ‘Press B to win’ mechanic. At certain points of the race, you get to press the B button to either change lanes, ram someone into a wall for a guaranteed wreck and what-not. It felt artificial and thoroughly inappropriate, almost as if they were not confident enough to make a game with as good crash mechanics as Burnout, so they copped out and made it a QTE instead.

    Regardless, it’s pretty solid and I might look into it when it comes out. Personally, I’m more interested in Blur.

  4. CMaster says:

    Hmm, didn’t spot this one. Then again, I mostly passed by the racing games.
    Didn’t get to play AvP either as was always pretty busy.
    On a PC bent though, did try Avatar, L4D2, Borderlands, Star Trek Online, Global Agenda, Dragon Age and Mass Effect 2. Feel free to reply if you want to know anything about how they played.

    • TotalBiscuit says:

      If you got to try Star Trek Online then I would like you to empty the contents of your brain into this comment box please.

    • CMaster says:

      OK – first off I played the exact same demo as Keiron played here. So you can use that to outline what happens. It’s very much a single player experience. The chat window is there but inactive, and the whole thing feels like a demo of a single player party-rpg.

      The inital space-combat is well, awkward. Playing the game proper would probably eliminate my confusion with the controls, but I can say I am glad those Birds of Prey went down easily. Oddest thing was I couldn’t work out how to fire the weapons with the keyboard, having to click GUI bits instead. The ships handle pretty sluggishly as one would expect. The pseudo-3d nature is a bit dissapointing. You can pitch down and up, but only to a limit (45 degrees maybe) and there seems to be a ceiling on how high/low you can go from the intital plane. According to the tips there is some degree of power management too, presumably shields/weapons/drives but I didn’t really have the time or a clear idea of how to fiddle with these in combat. Shields themselves manifest as 4 quarter circles arranged around the ships that get thinner as they are weakened.

      Into the away-team stage. Combat is classic Cryptic going back to CoH days. Click on an enemy, then press a number key for each power every time you want to attack. Cue the next 10 minutes spent smashing 1 with the occasional 2 or 3. Also for greedily hogging the powerup items you are carrying once I realised you had more than enough to last you the mission. You are accompanied by a gang of AI teammates who follow along behind you bumping into each other. They didn’t make complete fools of themselves in combat however, so no real complaints. Both your guys and the klingons have an excess of health and shields, so it bears little resemblence to any ST TV or movie combat at this stage, unlike the space section and more traditional RPG girnd down the health.

      One of the cryptic guys there was enthusing about how so many of the writers were real trekkies, much as Keiron observed. The writing itself was certainly quite reasonable and the final conversation had many options, although didn’t explain itself wonderfully about the reset. However the game still suffers from CoH storytelling methods failings – all done through big text box popups, that only occur at the start and end of missions (and before each transport, but all that says is “klingons have gone here. Follow y/n?)

      Overall – not a game for me, I can’t stand that combat style. I don’t like the heavy, heavy use of instancing in a supposed MMO. If you like other Cyrptic stuff though, it looks like this could be a much more solid (if not very multiplayer) offering than Champions. The cryptic guys there were saying as much – that they were getting on much quicker and were much happier with STO than with Champions.

  5. neems says:

    Ummmm… Oh I get it, nevermind.

    I really liked the look of this (Split Second I mean), but the ‘press B to win’ thing has me worried.

  6. Hypocee says:

    I played this lots of times at PAX, and it took me from ‘meh’ to a planned purchase. The suspension feels great, and whether this was a planned effect or not the powerslide is something I haven’t driven before. It’s still very arcade-stable and boosts your turning ridiculously, but somehow it tends to punish you if you try to deploy it as a reaction to a mistake; you can see the guy bouncing off the walls here as he starts to get a grip on it. Powerslide with a plan, and it’s gravy. I love the dichotomy, and I hope it persists to the final version.

    The prompts on the destruction things deserve special mention, because they turned me off like they did TotalBiscuit and I specifically asked the Black Rock dev about them. My question was something like, ‘So I’m confused. Why are there both A and B prompts when it’s just a QTE?’ It turns out that the slow-motion PRESS A NOW, PRESS B NOW prompts are an addition to the demo, intended to prevent people just driving through as a standard arcade racer without learning about the game’s USP or seeing any of the awesome pyrotechnics. The guy told me that at least at the time, nothing like them was planned for the full version.

    I personally think that while they definitely needed to put some kind of prompt in for cons, this particular implementation might have backfired a bit. If I hadn’t been interested enough to ask after two days of mildly baffled play, I would have walked away with the impression that this was A Racer But With QTEs. Actually, players are free to deploy both one-notch obstacles/shortcuts and three-notch destructions at any time (though I think there’s some kind of progression/delay on the destructions). You can see this around 3:20 in this video, where the player deploys an explosion to wipe out a competitor without any prompt. Going back with the information, the game became much clearer to me. It becomes a track-learning thing – this is the curve I can cut with some juice, this is the straight where I can wipe out people hugging the walls (or be wiped out if I hug the walls), this is the curve where I can temporarily close off that line through it…much more interesting. So yes, you can probably rely on the destructions getting deployed during every race and losing their wow factor, but that changes them from racing events to a progression in the track over the course of the race – a progression that serves as background to the smaller redeployable obstacles. And you’d still definitely rather drop them than have them dropped on you, encouraging decisions between burning juice on obstacles versus saving it up for destructions.

    The major obstacle for the final game is a way of getting the UI to communicate the location of the obstacles and what they do; currently objects pulse a fairly subtle cyan that I completely and utterly missed for ten sessions over two days, and the computer hovers a cyan circular tag over cars that would definitely be wiped by an event – you can see some of them in the video. When I talked to the Black Rock guy, he told me that the demo at PAX was actually a pre-E3 build that they hadn’t updated at all, and that at the time of PAX that communication UI was still undergoing massive debate, changes and development. I’m going to go out on a limb here and guess that this might still be the same demo – I certainly see no differences. It’s a big unknown for the less forgiving general public, then, but my conclusion is that in the very worst-case scenario, it’s a case of learning the tracks rather than being told about them, which I’m fine with in a Burnout or whatever so won’t grumble about in this game.

    • TotalBiscuit says:

      Ok that’s much better, nobody explained that at Firstlook. I reckon I’ll pick this up then, probably get a steering wheel too.

    • mrrobsa says:

      Awesome, been looking forward to this; Michael Bay racing. Glad to hear the on-screen prompts are just to teach players what to do.
      Unfortunately Burnout Paradise didn’t really do it for me, and remains behind Burnout Revenge in the awesome stakes.

    • mrrobsa says:

      Also sorry for double post, but whenever I post on RPS now I get told:

      “Regex ID: 90556 (mr.illintent@hotmail.co.uk) appears to be an invalid regex string! Please fix it in the Blacklist control panel.”

      Does a clever web man need to take a look at something? Feel free to delete this post if so.

  7. Scalene says:

    On a far more important topic: this has the *best* damn car sounds I have ever heard.

    Literally. The sounds are close to perfect.

  8. ZIGS says:

    I really like the sense of speed it conveys

  9. Hypocee says:

    I thought there had been more coverage here; seeing there hasn’t, I’ll tack on a few more things.

    1. I assume everyone with any interest has already seen lots of videos of this, but if by some chance this is your first…it cuts off before the third lap, where one of the destructions is a FOUR-ENGINE CARGO JET making a HEAD-ON FLAMING CRASH LANDING on the runway section. Eventually I’m sure this will lose its lustre, but it sure didn’t while I was playing. Every time I was there for it, I was gasping and grinning at the dynamic complication of my racing line and the sheer Bay-ness of it, respectively. You need to see that if you’re interested in Split/Second.

    2. Justifiably cynical people view the destructions as Blue Shell insta-kills. It’s certainly possible to be blown up or crashed without warning, but after a couple of races every destruction I saw had at least one safe way through during its entire sequence if you’d seen it before; the exploding terminal floor just shakes you up some if you’re away from the bombs, the freeway overpass can be avoided with some braking if anything, the chimney drops rubble in certain places at certain times, the jet can either be dodged to the inside with a powerslide or for better speed you can drive through the gaps between the onrushing, exploding engine nacelles (yes I did). In a best-case scenario this will lead to poker/yomi-style headgames as people take different lines into a section based on how much juice they think other players have. In the worst case, it will just be a way for the same track geometry to present a different face on each lap as the course changes.

    3. You get juice by getting air, drifting, and drafting other cars. Maybe one or two other ways, but those are the major contributors.

    4. As is standard for showfloor demos, the difficulty was set to Whimpering Gimp Mode – I came in sixth and fifth out of eight in my first two goes, when I was fighting my misconceptions about the powerslide and pinballing comically off of walls into other walls. After that, first place by a mile pretty much every time. It meant I can’t really speak to how the Powerplays feel when you need them to claw your way up the rubberband, rather than just toying with pretty booms. I also rarely or never had a destruction dropped on me by anyone but myself. I would, however, like to step up and especially praise the bots’ verisimilitude. I frequently saw AI cars trigger shortcuts or obstacles against each other when I was not involved with them, draft and bump each other for position, ‘make’ a small sliding ‘mistake’ and ‘correct’ it without looking canned, or ‘saucily’ pass up an opponent who was ‘preoccupied’ powerslide-dodging a destruction. Who knows whether it’s a question of especially good AI presentation routines or just the inherent chaos of the game carrying over into a sound base, but given that any arcade AI’s always going to be just a facade over a rubberbanding algorithm, sharing a track with these bots was a real hoot. I’m not a genre expert, but GRID’s the only other game I’ve played that’s felt this much like the other cars were individuals dealing with their own problems. Outside of the genre, it reminds me of nothing so much as Unreal Tournament. If the campaign and bot code works a certain way, I could imagine myself winding up in a ridiculous rivalry with some named piece of code that keeps thwarting me or pipping me to the post.

    5. The devs can’t commit to a number of tracks or environments yet, but they’re following the model where one environment provides multiple courses through minor changes to the geometry that open and seal routes. Personally, I love this ‘track in a world’ approach, but anyway that’s how it is.

  10. LionsPhil says:

    This looks reminiscent of Flatout 2, with more tricks.

    And that is in no way a bad thing.

  11. ruaidhri.k says:

    Itsa me, Mario!

  12. Car Games says:

    Wow one of the best looking car games I’ve seen. However at the end of the day its still a racing game.
    What makes this so different from you’re need for speed genre, gran taurismo genre.