My biggest concern with over-the-top racer Split/Second isn't with its explosive premise or arcade controls, it's with how long the game can maintain my interest.
I love the idea. In Split/Second your racing takes place as part of a fictional television show, the enormous sound-stage tracks are all rigged with explosives and stunts thmat you can trigger to take out other drivers.
But how many times will I want to run through the same race, triggering the same explosions before it becomes old hat?
Black Rock Studio's Jason Green assured me in a recent interview that I have nothing to worry about.
"We have more power plays that you can activate in one race, way more," said Green, who is the "studio ambassador." "If we sat down and had ten races with a check list sitting in front of us of all of the power plays, we could start getting through that list, but the combinations are through the roof."
He said they once tried to calculate all of the combinations that could take place in a race to see just how many different ways you could make it through a single track.
And that's just the differences, that number doesn't take into account the act of mastering a course.
"You can't have one race and learn a lap," Green said. "You learn the tracks through the different attacks being possible."
And those attacks only show up as a possibility when you have the power, earned through things like drafting, drifting and jumps. So to even see all of the possible power plays that can be activated, things like exploding a wall, dropping a crane on an enemy or bringing down an entire freeway overpass, you would have to rack up those points and then never use them. Something I tried for one race. There were indeed a staggering number of options that popped up as augmented-reality-like icons that flash on the screen.
"Early on there were concerns about the game, do the power plays have replay value?" Green said. "But that's kind of like saying once you learn a tight corner on a track does it get boring. No, it doesn't, you just refine how you go around that corner."
Despite the enthusiastic defense of the game's play life, Green declined to tell me how many courses would come with the game. Looking at the menu screen there appeared to be slots for two modes and maybe a dozen courses. Of course I was looking at a beta build, so that might not mean a thing.
I guess we'll have to wait until the game is finalized before we can do the math ourselves.