Games are constantly evolving and developers are redefining genres to appeal to an ever-growing audience with an diminishing attention span. Shooters are a prime example of this evolution, and almost all shooting games now feature deep and reward-based multiplayer components to keep players hooked. In all of this, the racing genre seems to have remained somewhat stagnant. But a slew of new racers are aiming to change that, and Split/Second: Velocity from Blackrock, the makers of the critically acclaimed Pure, are at the forefront of this change.

Split/Second is best described as an arcade combat racer, although you won’t see power ups and weapons for your car to use. Instead, the game relies on powerplays in the form of triggerable environmental destruction to help the player tilt the race in his/her favor. The main game mode is the career, which is designed like one season of a reality TV show. This season comprises 12 components, or episodes, each with six events within them. So with 72 events to compete in, the career is reasonably long.

Events are of six types, namely Race – lapped races against the AI, Eliminator – where the last placed car is eliminated at regular intervals, Survival – where you must overtake trucks that drop exploding barrels in your path, Dominator – a time trial where the environment is your enemy, Air Attack – you against a chopper that launches missiles onto the track to take you out, and Air Revenge – where you can deflect missiles back to the chopper to blow it out of the sky.

You won’t find real world cars in Split/Second. Instead, the cars here look more like Matchbox scale cars with their large tires and low profile. However, you will see obvious inspirations from real world cars like the Ford GT. Vehicle handling isn’t as easy as, say, a Burnout, but it’s still very arcadey and responsive, thereby allowing you to pay attention to the environment around you rather than worrying about how you’re going to negotiate the next corner. Vehicles fall under three categories – sports, muscle, and SUV. Each category excels in certain driving attributes such as speed, acceleration, drift, and strength, so you’ll need to pick your car depending on the event type you’re participating in.

The standout feature, and one that is fairly unique to this game, is the powerplays. Various areas on and around the track, be it structures like walls and bridges or buses and petrol stations, are rigged to blow. Driving skillfully, namely drifting, drafting and jumps, fills up your powerplay meter, which is divided into three parts. Fill up one or two parts, and you will earn the ability to trigger level 1 powerplays, of which there are many around the track. When you have a powerplay available, a powerplay icon shows up over enemy cars when they are in the vicinity of a powerplay attack. Time it right and you can take out one or more enemies to gain an advantage. Besides blowing stuff up to take out enemies, level 1 powerplays are also used to open up short cuts.

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