Split/Second: Velocity is the result of what happens when Michael Bay plays a kart-racer, like Super Mario Kart, and wants in on the action for himself.
Bay: “Let’s make a racer that’s more realistic!”
Game Designer: “Okay, well, that already exists, in games like Gran Turismo, or Forza, or…”
Bay: “No no! Realistic also means wrecking people! Where’s the fun in just driving? My chaperone does that every day.”
Designer: “Okay, but I think the Burnout series has that too, it involves making your opponents crash into things and-”
Bay: “No, I’ve seen that, it’s not enough! I want to see big ‘splosions, an-and buildings falling on people and trains falling out of the sky and… here let me show you!”
*Bay gets that childlike twinkle in his eye and gets his big bucket full of toys from under the table – the same bucket he carries around 24/7*
Bay: “Okay so what if, like, you were racing at an airport,” *places toy cars on desk* “and BAM! A plane falls out of the sky and smashes into them all!” *throws a big toy airliner at the cars lined up on the desk, bounces off and smashes a window*
Designer: “Whoa, okay okay I get your p-”
*Bay, now high on adrenaline, lines more cars up on the floor*
Bay: “And, oh it could be so cool, like, you blow up a massive skyscraper and then BAM!” *grabs the floor lamp in the corner and throws it onto the ground* “you could take them all out! Ha…haha! HAHAHAAA!”
*The game designer grabs his phone and dials Bay’s personal handler*
Designer: “Yes, I think it’s time for his meds again.”
Whatever Bay demonstrated in that game pitch must have transitioned well, because what we got was a crisp, yet absurdly fun racing game where the entire track is dangerous. The premise is that you’re racing on a reality TV show, where you can trigger events on the track such as blowing up buildings next to your rivals, pushing empty vehicles out on the track as obstacles, or causing rockfalls. If you’ve collected enough ‘power’, you can even trigger a major event which changes the route of the track, crushing anyone right in front of you. Train derailments, planes dropping out of the sky, blowing up an entire dam – there are all on the cards.
To collect the ‘power’ required, you can perform a variety of stunts like drifting, drafting closely behind rivals, and jumping gaps. Provided you’ve got a car with the right stats, long drifts around a series of corners can be deeply satisfying when you pull them off just right.
Racing for first place isn’t the only mode; you’ll also have Elimination (avoid being last) , Air Strike and Air Elimination (where you avoid the barrages of an attack helicopter), and Survival (overtake trucks dumping explosive barrels). Each of these modes are fun in their own right, but the standard races are what I’ll always consider the best, especially when I first started the game, trying to find all of the possible explosive triggers.
This has been possibly my favourite racing game for years, and I’d always break it out when my gaming friends came over. It has led to some of the best multiplayer gaming moments I’ve ever had. It’s also visually stunning, even if it is currently a generation behind the PS4’s graphics.
That being said, the road to the platinum was a little irritating. Sure, the single player trophies were easy and fun enough, but as with nearly all games – the multiplayer trophies are the bane of the trophy hunter’s existence. There is a particularly horrible online ranking system that improves your rank based on how many people you beat in a race, but it also deducts points for the number of rivals who beat you. So, lets say you came first in a 7-car race – you beat 6 rivals, so your rank improves by 6! Great! But, if you have a bad run and come, say, 7th out of 8 – you beat one but lost to 6, so your rank goes back by 5. If you have a few bad races, you could fall back very quickly.
You start at rank 99, and for one trophy you need to attain rank 1. I know what you’re thinking – get good already! Well a combination of Australian lag, a near-deserted online community, and obvious hackers always coming first via infuriating means had placed this trophy far out of reach. So I did what any shameless hunter would – got my brother to join a private game with me and go AFK, while I slowly but surely gained a rank one race at a time. Took a few sessions, but I got there. Please don’t judge me for my innovations against the stacked odds… at least I can now rest easy.
- The Walking Dead: Season 2 (PS4)
- The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt (PS4)
- The Wolf Among Us (PS Vita)
What’s on your list right now?