Split/Second PSP Hands-on: Feeling the Burn, PSP Challenges detailed

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I know what you’re thinking, and yes, the airplane still crashes onto the track in the middle of the race on the Airport Terminal. Track layouts also distort dynamically, environments crumble realistically, and towers teeter and topple majestically under the destructive spark of Split/Second’s signature Power Plays.

Split/Second PSP

Split/Second PSP Split/Second PSP

In short, despite the smaller screen size, Split/Second’s PSP incarnation does not skimp on the spectacle. The PSP version releases on November 16th with four-player ad-hoc Wifi multiplayer, and this week I took a pre-release version of the game for a spin.

Thanks to some dazzling real-time lighting and particle effects, Split/Second on the PSP looks remarkably similar to its PS3 big brother. The tracks layouts are nigh-identical, and the gameplay zips along at a speedy clip, blasting energetically through every one of its 30 frames per second no matter how many fireworks are on the screen.

Split/Second PSP Split/Second PSP

The controls have been been subtly tweaked to accommodate the mobile nature of PSP gameplay, and they feel tight and responsive on the analog stick and d-pad. You can still slipstream behind other racers to diminish wind resistance and gain a short-lived burst of speed, a critical tactic when you find yourself lagging behind the pack. The gas and brake buttons are mapped to X and Square, respectively; To drift around hairpin turns, you tap the Square button once. Given Split/Second’s blistering pace, I find it helpful to brake as little as possible and instead ease off the gas during dangerous moments. Finally, the L1 button triggers Power Plays, the aforementioned earth-shaking catastrophes that will wipe out your competitors if you master the, um, split-second timing.

Split/Second PSP

Split/Second PSP Split/Second PSP

Black Rock Studios (working with Sumo Digital) was kind enough to chip in an extra track for PSP players to bring the track total to 13 in all. PSP users also get new Challenges in addition to returning favorites like Elimination (stay out of last place), Air Strike (dodge incoming missiles), and Detonator (finish laps inside the deadline). Details on the new Challenges are still scarce and I’ll update you when I learn more.

UPDATE: Producer Jason Ried at Disney Interactive Studios in Europe chimes in with first details on Split/Second PSP’s new Challenges and the new track:

1. Destruction: target and destroy rival cars to gain bonus time and the highest score
2. Power Slide: high speed, power drifting game mode in which you drift around the track to gain score and extra time
3. Keep on Truckin: drive as the Survival truck while trying to avoid rival cars and barrels to post the highest score possible

The new track is an amalgamation of some parts of the various docks areas to form a much bigger track. It’s essentially a super track of the docks tracks and we call it The Docks.

Split/Second is a fast, aggressive PSP racer that will appeal to fans of destructive racers such as Burnout Dominator and WipEout Pure. If you have questions about the gameplay or overall experience, ask away in the comments below and I’ll do my best to get you an answer.

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