(PS3, Xbox 360)
Despite some of the crazy moves we’ve seen performed on Dubai’s roads recently, there are a few things you can’t get away with. Side-swiping another driver and sending them into the concrete barrier is one. Detonating store fronts and collapsing bridges to get ahead of the pack is another.
Games are as good as it gets when living out your wildest fantasies on the road; there have been many that focus on the more creatively chaotic side of driving, most notably the crash-tastic Burnout series. Eager to get in on the action is Split/Second, which fuses insane racing with movie-style explosive action.
At face value this is a standard arcade racer: very fast fictional cars tear across tracks based in cities, airports, harbours and other unlikely settings. But instead of building up ‘boost’, you exploit your drifts and white-knuckle overtakes to build up for trigger moments. These can be as simple as the aforementioned exploding store front. But they can also be John McLane-worthy collapsing bridges, crashing aircraft or giant ships deciding to partition the harbour, permanently changing the track. It is harrowing, nail-biting and a lot of fun.
Where Split/Second loses out is its lack of tracks, but it will take a while to get bored with all the variations available in the current package. Apart from solid multiplayer, there are also several game modes to explore. One is a variation of time attack, where you have to outrace an exploding track. Another involves swerving around exploding barrels to overtake the trucks dropping them.
Ultimately, Split/Second falls just short of full greatness, but nothing can touch its style and adrenaline rush. The flaws are nitpicks, because once you nip under a skyscraper that’s falling towards you, you’ll be hooked.