Black Rock is no stranger to racing games--it has previously been behind the earlier incarnations of the MotoGP series and, in 2008, put out the off-road ATV racer Pure.
Split/Second, with its emphasis on raw speed amid increasingly turbulent and explosive backdrops, blends the studio's racing expertise with its love for Hollywood blockbusters and big-time special effects.
The result is a game that's full of surprises By pulling off advanced driving techniques like drifting, drafting, and jumping, you'll gradually fill up your power meter. There are three stages to the power meter.
The two lower stages will set off small power plays with a press of the A button--these small explosions might take out a car or two ahead of you. If you fill up your power meter to the maximum, you can set off super power plays.
For example, in the downtown level, a super power play brings down a huge stretch of elevated freeway; as you barrel down the road with the calamity happening right beside you, you'll eventually reach a derailed train lying in a flaming wreck at the head of the disaster, and you'll need to quickly swerve onto a previously closed section of track to avoid it.
These super power plays essentially redraw sections of the maps in Split/Second, becoming on-the-fly shortcut creators with the added bonus of tons of smoke, fire, and associated chaos. What's more, super power plays aren't just "one-and-done." In the shipyard level, there's a massive cargo liner that starts off elevated above the road--one super power play later and it's a collapsed wreck that you're driving through on the next lap.
If you enact another super power play, the ship collapses even further, resulting in a different path through the rest of the course. In all, the goal seems to be creating enough power play moments to keep even the relatively short three-lap races interesting and varied each time you play them through.
Split/Second's three car classes will have some bearing on your strategy for tackling races: supercars are fast and light but prone to getting out of control easily, especially if you're close to the shock wave of a massive power play.
At the opposite end of the spectrum are the race trucks; big, heavy, and slow (well, relatively speaking), trucks are more stable in explosions, but you'll pay for that stability with a lack of acceleration. Muscle cars find the balance between speed and stability and seem like they might be a good choice for players in the early goings of the game.
Unlike in most racing games, where your focus is on either your car or the road directly ahead of you, in Split/Second, you find your eye roaming all over the screen looking for what huge object will explode next.
The game's developers understand this phenomenon and therefore have removed as much of the HUD as possible--in fact, the only information you need is displayed directly under your car's bumper: lap number, power meter level, and your position in the race. All of the extraneous stuff--like the speedometer (after all, who cares exactly how fast you're going when a massive cargo liner is exploding in front of you?)--has been removed to make way for the good stuff.