Split/Second is a spectacular feast for the eyes. But it's also an arcade racer with cunning depth.
Racing games are at their core all about learning the track. Split/Second demands you learn the track because the track itself is your weapon.
Smart driving - and by that I mean crazy, reckless, skin-of-your-teeth drafting and drifting - earns your "powerplays" which are triggered at numerous points around the track. You can trigger anything from a clutch of barrels rolling across the road all the way up to a 747 crashlanding on the back straight. Many of them even change the circuits, adding shortcuts and alternate routes.
Until you learn the track, these powerplays will take you out as often as they take out your opponents. It's vital you know what's going to happen, so you can time each powerplay to maximise its impact and also ensure you're well clear of its danger zone.
Many arcade racers are simply about who hits with their powerups or who best manages their turbo, while the track itself plays second fiddle. There's little to learn or master, you just react. Here, in addition to proving yourself behind the wheel, you've got to master the environment as well. It's refreshing take on the genre and one I highly recommend.
Elsewhere, it's a bit of a quiet week. Are you picking up anything?
New releases for the w/c May 31:
Backbreaker (360, PS3) What Is It? American football sim that lacks the NFL license but boasts procedurla animation system Euphoria, as seen in Red Dead Redemption and GTA IV. Should You Care? I'm not sure if you do, but regular Kotaku commenter FatShady certainly does.
Fantasy Petz (DS) What Is It? Another in Ubisoft's relentless line of pet owning and training sims. Should You Care? This one's got dragons and unicorns. But sadly no robot unicorns.
Project Runway (Wii) What Is It? Based on the TV show, "players will be presented with a range of theme challenges as they create designs and adorn models with hair, make-up, and accessories." Should You Care? I'd normally say no, but it uses the Wii Balance Board as a catwalk. Genius!
The Sims: Ambitions (PC) What Is It? Sims 3 expansion pack that introduces a bunch of zany new careers including ghost hunter, inventor, private investigator or... sculptor. Should You Care? Also out this week is a fancy Sims 3 "commemorative edition" featuring a hardback book, artwork sketches and a poster.
Split/Second: Velocity (360, PS3, PC) What Is It? Arcade racing action where you can destroy the environment, taking out opponents and opening up new routes. Should You Care? For those who demand some spectacle with their powersliding.
Coming up in the next few weeks, you can look forward to Transformers: War for Cybertron, Naughty Bear, Singularity, new Shrek and Toy Story titles, and the long-awaited local release of Demon's Souls.