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Video Game / Split/Second (2010)

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Pictured: Rule of Cool

One day, the fine folks at Disney Interactive Studios, after watching a 10-hour marathon of Michael Bay movies, picked up a Need for Speed game and thought, "This is fun, but it's missing something... explosions!" And with that, the game Split/Second was born.

Split/Second (Split/Second: Velocity in Europe) is a racing game set up like a reality/Game Show (not to be confused with the Tom Kennedy quizzer from The '70snote  or its 80s revival with Monty Hall) in which racers compete through 12 episodes of an internationally broadcast television series, also titled Split/Second. The racing is much like it is in any arcade racer, with one key difference: at any point, after accumulating enough energy (through drifting, drafting and jumps), racers can set off "Power Plays" in which bombs are dropped from helicopters, cars and trucks on the side of the track are blown up, overhead cranes and bridges are blown up and fall onto the track, the road itself is blown up to change the route of the course, buildings fall over, planes fall out of the sky... yeah, it's basically Burnout turned into a Summer Blockbuster.


However, racing isn't the only mode available.

  • Detonator has you do a timed solo lap of the track while pretty much every Power Play on the course gets set off to try and kill you.
  • Survival has you racing semis against a time limit while they drop exploding barrels at you, which either slow you down or wreck you, depending on the type of barrel.
  • In Air Strike, you earn points dodging an attack helicopter firing missiles at you; better evasions earn more points.
    • Air Revenge is similar, but drifts and successful dodging allow you to gain power to shoot the missiles back at the helicopter and destroy it.
Why, yes, all of the game modes directly involve explosions in one way or another.

All it's missing is Megan Fox and Linkin Parknote .

A sequel was in development, but Disney cancelled the project, leading to the studio's ultimate closure. In 2021, over 10 years after the original game and the closure of Black Rock Studios, a Spiritual Successor was made called "Detonation Racing", exclusively released for Apple's Apple Arcade subscription platform and produced by many of the original members of the Split/Second development team (who went on to form the game's developer Electric Square).



  • Attack Reflector: You eventually get the opportunity to destroy that damn helicopter by sending its missiles right back at it.
  • Awesome, but Impractical: The Elite Goliath. Good lord, is it built like a tank, but reaching top speed is not easy. Almost all of the other trucks suffer a problem in that it's easy for them to ignore shock effects, but if they're shoved far enough off course, they won't be able to recover in time and crash anyway.
  • Big Dam Plot: One of the Route Switchers involves the collapse of a dam, with the old route running along its inside wall.
  • Boring, but Practical: The helicopter-dropping-a-bomb Power Plays are easily the most boring ones in the game, both visually and conceptually. But they're reusable from lap to lap, are a near-guaranteed wreck if timed correctly, and most tracks have one just before the end, letting you destroy the car you're right behind in the race's last seconds.
  • Bragging Rights Reward: Getting achievements causes them to show up on your car as decals, as a way of showing people online just how much of a badass you are.
    • One of them, "Untouchable" (win a race event without crashing) has two spots on the rear of every car. That should give you an idea of how often you can expect to crash in this game.
    • Also, the Ryback Firestorm car, awarded when the player reaches 3600 credits (meaning you have finished 1st in every single event in the game). By that point, you don't really need it for anything anymore. Even if you want to use it for multiplayer races, it'll only come in handy if you can drift well. In contrast, the penultimate car, the Hanzo FX 350, is a very fast and controllable car that is much easier to drive than the Firestorm overall.
  • Cliffhanger: For a racing game, interestingly enough — after the championship race, you're doing the winner's podium shots when things start being blown up, even though the power plays were already deactivated, and then an army of rogue construction vehicles with mysterious "SƧ" logos on them show up, and soon after, the scene cuts to black with "TO BE CONTINUED" on the screen.
    • If you listen to the guy on the mic, it sounds like he's talking about a now-defunct company that ran an earlier season of Split/Second until 1982. Apparently the company wasn't as dead as the current Split/Second team thought.
    • Left Hanging: Due to the cancellation of the game's supposed sequel.
  • The Computer Is a Cheating Bastard: In quite a few ways.
    • On each track on the hardest difficulty (which kicks in somewhere around season 7) there are one or two AI opponents who can (and will) drive the track with 100% precision, meaning the only way to slow them down is to hit them with Power Plays. If you let them overtake you and get out of sight, they'll have a 10 second lead on you in no time flat. This is exceptionally noticeable in the Elite Races, where Torpedo, Vixen and Raptor are the major offenders, and can rack up a 20-second lead if left to their own devices.
    • On Elite Races, the other Elites will hardly ever use Power Plays on each other, and have a seemingly infinite Power Meter, which they will use to throw every single Power Play on the track at you if you're in first place. Good thing they can't use them too well and that most are really easy to recover from.
    • Also on Elite Races, Raptor will always come at least second. At least, the results board will say so. This makes coming in first in every Elite race almost necessary because Raptor will always get the full 9 points in the championship standings and makes it a major pain in the ass to come back, as even if you win the race, Raptor will still get 8 points and make the gap the race should have made almost nothing again.
    • It's a small blessing that the AI really cannot handle being on the receiving end of Power Plays; if they start going off course the drivers seem to panic. Sometimes a shockwave-based power play (gas stations, tanker trucks) can cause the built-like-tanks trucks to outright fall apart, even when it'll do hardly anything to your probably fairly flimsy supercar on a direct hit.
      • An exception to this exists in the gas station Power Plays; if timed right, your car won't make it through in one piece. The window to wreck AI opponents in gas stations is, however, much larger.
  • Cool Car: Plenty, ranging from sports and muscle cars to heavily armored SUVs and even a prototype race car.
  • Crosshair Aware: You can see where the missiles are going to land in Air Strike and Air Revenge modes. This allows you to dodge them and rack up points based on how well you avoid getting hit (or in the case of Air Revenge, build up your Power Play meter to send the missiles back at the chopper).
  • Death from Above: Air Strike Mode, in which you are being chased by an attack helicopter that fires volleys of missiles at you.
    • One of the Power Plays on the "Airport Terminal" level causes the air traffic control tower to topple over, crushing any racers beneath it and rerouting the course onto the airport runway. During the next lap, a jumbo jet comes in for a crash landing on said runway—while you are racing on it.
    • A "generic" Power Play on every track is a helicopter that drops exploding propane tanks onto the track. One of these will always be positioned before the finish straight as a "last ditch" Power Play.
  • Death Is a Slap on the Wrist: If your car gets wrecked, you simply respawn after a few seconds without a scratch. On the other hand, considering this is an action-packed racing game, those are still precious seconds being wasted. However, this is averted in certain game modes, where death is permanent, automatically ending the round for the affected player.
  • Death World: In the 'Detonator' mode, the player has to complete a hot lap of the track while the majority of the offensive Power Plays trigger in front of them. Every barrel, fence, car, train, building and bridgenote  can and WILL explode as you drive past it in an attempt to throw you into a wall and explode. In short, this mode could be renamed Everything Trying to Kill You.
  • Difficult, but Awesome: The Level 2 Power Plays can be completely ineffectual if you time them wrong or if there aren't enough cars to be hit by them when you fire them off. On the other hand, if timed near-perfectly, it's entirely possible to wipe out the entire race in one fell swoop (and get an "Ultimate Wreck").
  • Don't Try This at Home: In no small part, the developers and the game itself make quite the effort to tell you that everything portrayed within is entirely fictional, and should NOT be attempted in real life for any reason. This is Disney we are talking about.
  • Downloadable Content: In addition to several car packs, there are three packs that each include a new game mode, a new track, and a few cars. The new modes are Survival Race (racing in Survival mode), Deadline (Detonator with timer-pausing pickups), and Onslaught (racing in Air Strike mode).
  • Disaster Movie: Many of the Level 2 Power Plays look like they came out of one of these, especially the Route Changers. These range from detonating a cliff side to collapsing a building.
  • Epic Fail: You know you (or the other AI cars) are doing terribly in an Elite race if Rigg is in first place, because he drives the Elite Goliath mentioned above. Even under AI control, Rigg is basically the Butt-Monkey of the Elite team and will almost always come in dead last regardless of everything that happens in the race.
  • Everything Trying to Kill You: Detonator events, where the course's Power Plays trigger by themselves, forcing you to outmaneuver them and keep your speed. During Season mode, these must be beaten in a certain amount of time (which is ridiculously unforgiving; scraping by with mere milliseconds is par for the course and you will restart most of the time).
    • Even more so in multiplayer when you're driving ahead of the pack, bombarded with the combined power (and bodywork) of everyone behind you. And with drifty cars like the Firestorm, power flows in like water.
  • Excuse Plot: It could easily be argued that the whole "reality TV show" thing is an excuse plot for racing with gratuitous explosions.
    • The developers flat out admitted that they came up with the Stuff Blowing Up concept first and only later asked "OK, how do we justify this?"
    • Was intended to be subverted, as the ending of the Season Mode suggests that more is taking place than meets the eye, but that's never gonna happen.
  • Exploding Barrels: Survival mode has you dodging as many of these as you can. You get bonus points for overtaking the trucks dropping them.
  • Fauxrrari: The vehicle companies seem to be pastiches of real companies.
    • Ryback has many chunky vehicles that bear a strong resemblance to modern American muscle cars and trucks (Camaro, Mustang, Ram, etc).
    • Cobretti cars are sleeker, with a name evocative of Italian manufacturers (Ferrari, Lamborghini and Pagani). Their lineup, however, also encompasses ostensibly Germannote  and Britishnote  cars.
    • Hanzo is of course a Japanese company, with a name close to Mazda and Honda and a car resembling the Nissan GT-R.
  • Hoist by His Own Petard: It is very possible to get cought by one of your own Power Plays and the game will point it out to you with a message saying: "You Wrecked Yourself"
  • Infinity Plus One Car:
    • The Cobretti Slipstream is an amazingly good car for drifting (and thus racking up power), and works well on almost any track.
    • The Elite S510 is a close second (until you get to the next tier of cars anyway). The other Elite cars however, are not actually that practical despite their awesomeness or good looks. The description for the Le Mans-esque Elite GT12 won by taking 1st in the final race lampshades this a bit:
    The GT12 is a pure-blood race-car: built for the track. Which is great, except that we're going to make you race it down a storm drain, through a hail of explosions!
    • The Cobretti 530 GTS. It's among the fastest cars in the game, and by the point you get it, you can pretty much just zoom through every race.
    • The Ryback Titan, the hardest truck to get, is a surprisingly good vehicle for races despite being a truck. It has the same top speed as the 530 GTS above and the highest acceleration among all the trucks. Moreover, being a truck, it's also quite tough and stable to handle, leading to very few slowdowns.
    • The Hanzo FX350, awarded for reaching 3300 credits and likely the penultimate car you will unlock. It's the second fastest car in the game, but it doesn't have paper armor, is very driftable, and has a good grip for all those tight turns or for when you just don't feel like drifting. That says volumes about its practicality, considering how the fastest car in the game (the GT12) is pretty much just a Leeroy Jenkins and the ultimate car (the Firestorm) is just a pure-bred drifter.
    • While the Firestorm isn't perfect, the sheer ease with which it can drift (without losing speed, at that) makes it worthy of being Post-End Game Content. Enjoy topping up your power bar in a matter of seconds.
  • It's Going Down: If you see anything big, tall, and cool-looking in the level scenery, there's a pretty good chance that it will be sitting on top of a car at the end of the race.
    • Or several cars. The more that aren't you, the better.
  • Limit Break: Level 2 Power Plays, which use your entire energy bar and often have a far greater impact on the race (changing the route or taking out several racers at once).
  • Macross Missile Massacre: You are on the receiving end in Air Strike mode. Air Revenge mode turns the tables on the chopper.
  • Minimalism: The HUD lacks any unnecessary elements, such as a speedometer or track map, and is kept fairly small. Otherwise, you'd miss all the explosions.
  • Nintendo Hard: Get ready to tear your hair out trying to win the Detonator events. The times you're required to beat feel as though the developers took the best time from their team, rounded it down to an even value, then subtracted one second and expect you to beat that time. Very often you'll find that the biggest obstacle in these events is not the automatic Power Plays but the car's own top speed and acceleration.
  • Old Save Bonus: The "Have We Met Before?" decal, which shows up if you have save data from Pure.
  • One-Hit Kill: In Survival Mode, some of the Exploding Barrels launched from the semis are red rather than blue and will wreck you instantly. Once time's up, you enter Sudden Death and the trucks only drop reds. Good luck.
  • Player-Exclusive Mechanic: As noted above, your non-player opponents have a much greater chance at wrecking from just explosion shockwaves.
    • The shortcut in Construction Site is practically unknown to the AI. Justified in that they'd give it away otherwise.
  • Recurring Riff: There is a very distinctive melody that plays throughout many of the game's pieces, from the intro to the Elite Race themes.
  • Rubberband AI: Two-way until the higher difficulties. No matter which car you pick for any race in any season, you can easily manage to pull middle of the pack at the very least, unless you drive atrociously and crash into every Power Play on purpose. The A.I.s will rarely get too far ahead or behind. This means you can't take a supercar back to the first episodes and clean housenote  by zooming into the lead far ahead of all the other cars.
  • Rule of Cool: The reality TV premise would be impossible in Real Life; it's more or less just an excuse to blow as much stuff up during a race as possible.
  • Runaway Train: One Route Switcher sends a train careening down a track next to the course before being blown sky-high. You can get a decal for taking out three or more racers with this: The Pain Train.
  • Scenery Gorn: The likely state of the course after a few laps.
  • Shout-Out: The entire game is one long love letter to summer blockbusters.
    • Survival Mode, in which you have to overtake a series of semi-trucks that are dropping explosive barrels to stop you, is lifted almost directly from similar scenes in Bad Boys II and The Island.
    • The achievement/trophy names have shout outs to Hercules, of all things— the ones named Going the Distance and Zero to Hero specifically. Yeah, Disney Interactive published the game, but still.
  • Show Within a Show: Within a game, but you get the point.
  • Stuff Blowing Up: Have we established this yet?
    • No better way to take in this trope than by setting up a Detonator event. Bask your car in flame and explosions as you charge through the course with just about every Power Play triggering by itself.
  • Variable Mix: The menu music when you advance past the title screen and select an event.
    • Each theme during a race has three variations which play at different stages in the race. Each mix adds more instruments and changes the pitch in order to ramp up the intensity as you close in on the finish. The music segues whenever it's forced to pause (such as a noteworthy Power Play or if you crash). On three-lap courses, each mix plays on the start of a new lap, while two-lap races begin on the second variation. The easiest way to force the game to switch music is by pausing and unpausing the game as long as you know the points at which the theme changes. If nothing forces the music to pause, it'll just keep playing the same theme (so if you're driving a particularly fast vehicle on Easy difficulty, you can keep the music the same for the whole race by outrunning everyone and never triggering a Power Play).
  • Wreaking Havok: What do you expect from a game that actually uses the Havok physics engine?

Alternative Title(s): Split Second Velocity, Split Second