by Joseph Barron
reviewed on X360
More skilled players are punished (cntd)
The problems with the faster vehicles are compounded by some very old-fashioned AI opponents. In Split/Second there is a huge amount of very obvious "rubberbanding." This means that, if you are a long way ahead in a race the game will make the AI faster, sometimes faster than their vehicles would normally allow, in order to keep the competition close. This decision was obviously made to keep the powerplay mechanics interesting, because if you got out in front all time, you would never have a reason to use them. Unfortunately, because you cannot set the difficulty level yourself it means that the people who get punished the most by the rubberbanding are actually the people who are the most skilled racing gamers. The faster you are, the more the game works to give the AI cars extra speed. This completely ruins the final third of the single player season mode.
Luckily, if you take the game online the playing field is much more level. As with all racing games, if one person gets in front early on then they will probably stay there, however there isn't any rubberbanding so if you get out in front, chances are that you actually deserve to be there. Modes include standard races but you can also indulge in some of Split/Second's more unique and challenging game-type, from dodging missiles fired by attack helicopters to last man standing elimination events. There is enough variety in the modes to keep you entertained by the huge explosions for much longer than if the game was limited to just the regular races. More tracks have been promised too, through downloadable content, which will hopefully keep the formula fresh by providing new environments to reduce to rubble with surprising new powerplays. Split/Second also has split/screen multiplayer, which is a really welcome addition given how few games offer this feature on the modern consoles.
If you are looking for a game to show off to your friends then Split/Second is a great choice. The graphics are some of the most impressive of any arcade racing game. The explosions are ridiculously over the top and the environments are spectacularly detailed. Unfortunately, the car models aren't quite up to the same standards as the backgrounds, but the developers can be forgiven for this considering that you will spend most of the time watching the cars explode anyway! The best aspect of the visuals though is the minimal HUD. Instead of putting bits of information in the corners of the screen, the HUD is located just under the rear of the car, allowing you to see much more of the awesome environments. It's a neat idea that really helps to show off the gorgeous tracks.
For spectacular graphics and yell-out-loud moments of insanity, Split/Second cannot be beaten, but there are numerous flaws in the mechanics that can suck the fun out of the single player racing. If you're looking for a quick and explosive racing thrill then Split/Second is definitely the game for you. However, if you're serious about your arcade racing then the rubberband AI is definitely going to spoil with your single player experience. Take the game online though and you will find one of the most enjoyable multiplayer racers around.
Breathtaking graphics and thrilling action.
Awful \'rubberband\' AI punishes more skilled racing gamers.