Split/Second Developer Call Roundup

Late last week I had the unique opportunity to participate in a conference with Nick Baynes, the Game Director at Black Rock Studios who have developed the high-paced racing game Split/Second.

The conference call offered an opportunity for us game journalists to ask questions regarding the upcoming game, and some of the most interesting revelations are below.

For those who are unaware of Split/Second, the game is a racing game unlike any other racer on the market. As a car racer, you are invited to join a new reality television show, Split/Second, which takes place in a city built by the television studio. The city features numerous buildings and features that can explode, come crashing down to the ground, burst onto the track or even come crashing down out of the sky. As opponents race around a track they gain points by doing stuff such as drafting and drifting. When they gain enough points they can initiate a “power play”, which allows players to either set off small explosions that might send objects such as burning buses onto the track to, with enough points, sending buildings crashing to the ground, which drastically alters the course. As a result, every race is different, and every moment of the race feels like a high-tension car chase from a Hollywood movie. You dodge burning cars and wreckage, crashing buildings, exploding gas stations and even crashing planes. It’s all there, all triggered by the players and each time dynamically changing a course.

Nick Baynes is obviously extremely excited about Split/Second, and you should be, too. Some of the most interesting things we learned from our conference call:

– The idea for Split/Second was conceived more than five years ago. The developer, Black Rock studios, took a look at the next-generation consoles and formulated an idea for a game they could do with the given technology. They wanted to create dynamically changing tracks, explosive objects and a pulse-pounding experience unlike any other.

– The game provides multiplayer options, but the single-player game also includes a unique storyline focusing on the reality TV show. There will be cliffhangers at the end of each episode that will keep players coming back for more.

– The game’s Survival mode, which was recently announced and features dodging exploding barrels and objects that are falling out of a big rig in front of you and your opponents was heavily influenced by Bad Boys 2 and Terminator 2’s chase scenes.

– An elite race option will feature stiff competition that requires a top-3 finish to continue and will feature the best racers offline and online.

– One of the aspects the team at Black Rock is most proud of is the in-game HUD. Rather than cluttering up the screen, the team reduced the information available to only one thing: power-play points. During a race an occasional time will flash across the screen telling you how far behind or ahead you are of the competition, but otherwise, almost nothing is on screen except for your car and your opponent’s cars. The team chose to simplify the HUD because they found there was too much information on screen and that it cluttered up racing experiences. They simply want players to see the course and only the course.

– The game is geared to appease both casual and hardcore racers. The team at Black Rock developed Pure, which was an excellent racing experience and they are confident that the physics of the cars can be appreciated by hardcore racers while casual players who don’t usually play racing games will be able to pick up their controller and easily get into the game.

– There are more than 25 unique cars and souped-up trucks that can be driven in the races.

Split/Second is looking to be an awesome experience gauging by the demo and the experience we had with it at PAX East. It’s arriving here in North America on May 18 for the Xbox 360, PlayStation 3 and PC. Keep an eye out for our review shortly after its release.