After going back down memory lane, we return to more recent times with an amazing racing game from Warner Bros called Split/Second. The game measures in speed and explosions, every second having the probability of changing the odds brutally and unexpectedly in the favor of another driver, leaving the first one in a contorted mass of burning metal. In order to attract the good karma to you, you have to drift as good as you can or be the best stalker the world has ever seen and gain the needed points by sitting behind the opponent.
Gameplay and Features
Split/Second offers an extended career mode posed into the model of a broadcasted television program split into different chapters called seasons. You are allowed, after you pass the first season to choose your next one out of 2 options, with the exception of the season 6 which offers only 1 possibility. Each of those 2 seasons offer different racetracks and a different amount of gameplay modes (for example, 2 races, 1 eliminator, 1 detonator or 3 races, 1 helicopter revenge and so on – I’ll go through each mode a bit later.)
The HUD placement is rather unique, a good example of minimalism. As in all the relevant information like the ‘Power Play’, Position or Lap count is placed behind the car to avoid the feeling of being crowded. Though if you use front bumper camera, all those details will be placed at the bottom of the screen. Also, the second part of the HUD shows when you can attack your opponents or change the pathway.
The Power Play is sort of like a reward-system where you receive Power Play points for drifting, overtake-drifting, close calls and so on. With the points, that rack up into 3 total bars, you can attack the opponents by detonating various ‘little’ things like cars, trucks, buildings and even nuclear powerplants. It also can give you access to shortcuts (requires 1 power play bar) or completely change the race pathway (requires all 3 bars).
The controls are minimal, requiring the steering keys (customizable), and 2 different keys (default LCtrl and LShift) that activate the 1 bar and 3 bars Power Play Attacks. When it comes to changing the pathway, the game won’t leave you guessing when it’s the appropriate time to do it, a red hexagonal icon with an arrow inside will pinpoint what part of the map will be changed and the time will also be slowed down to give you an extended moment of reaction, after you decide to change the course or skip it, the time flow will be reversed to normal. (Note: To have access to that info you need to have all the 3 bars of Power Play collected and unused)
The second reward-system is the classic position points that grant you new and (usually) better vehicles once you reached the required amount of credits. Only the first 3 positions reward credits to the player.
Fortunately you can repeat each race as many times as you like, but you will not receive the rewards you’ve already collected. (For example, if you get the second place first time, and on the second attempt you get first place you will only receive the difference between those 2 positions in credits). The achievements in this game are rather easy to get ahold of, and will be displayed for your pride on your car (regardless of what car you choose) as stickers.
The game has 6 racemodes:
– The normal race where you just have to do everything to finish in the highest position possible
– Elimination which is actually a knockout race, where each racer in the last position gets kicked after a 20 sec timer.
– Detonator – The classical time-attack with a little addition: Hell is unleashed in your face. Almost everything explodes, rotates or crashes in front of you and you have to keep an optimal line to make sure you reach first place.
– Survival – This is where Eminem’s track ‘Survival of the fittest’ would fit perfectly. Because that is what you have in hand. You have to outmaneuver and overtake big trucks that drop a trail of barrels that explode, making you either lose control or explode altogether costing a life (you have 3 of them).
– Helicopter Attack – This is where your speed reactions are the most important since you’re on a constant attack by a helicopter, and you have to dodge its missiles (again, you have 3 lives), gain points based on your rate of success, and win first place by surpassing the opponents scores.
– Helicopter Revenge – Finally, after a few seasons of getting tons of rockets in your tooshie, you can get back at the meanie heli, by first evading his missiles then firing your own, but unlike the evil helicopter pilot, you won’t miss!
Cars and Tracks
The vehicles in the game have real-life designs, like the Aston Martin and Pagani, though the looks are a lot more sharper and have, of course, different names. The cars’ stats are split through 4 categories: Top Speed, Acceleration, Drift and Strength. Unfortunately the only customization you can use in this game is a change of paintjob color.
As for the tracks, the raceline is majestically built, no repetitions and each turn can prove a bit of a challenge when the AI opponents can drive almost flawlessly. Cruising each track, you can feel the love and care that has been placed into their design, lots of different models and textures, makes the map feel like walking into a new place altogether, and not repetitive like lots of other racing games. Most of the maps are set out in urban areas with a few near the desert and/or villages.
– Stunning visuals
– A decent number of vehicles
– Enough gamemodes
– Great tracks
– Nice drifting simulation
– That rubberband AI man!
Release Date: PC – May 2010, PSP – November 2010
Developer: Black Rock Studio, Sumo Digital (PSP)
Publisher: Disney Interactive Studio
Price: 19.99 $/€
Steam Store Page: http://store.steampowered.com/app/297860
Similar Games: Pure, Burnout: Paradise
2nd: Colin McRae Rally 2.0
Next in the line, sits one of the best WRC games I had the chance of laying my hands on. ( Beats the DiRT series in my opinion ). CMR 2.0 is developed and published by none others than the masters of racing genre: Codemasters. The game, made in 2000, brings out quite a few racing modes and even the head2head racing which I’ll be describing a bit later.
Gameplay and Features
Oh man, there are quite a few. Colin McRae Rally 2.0, as presented above, focuses on the World Rally Championship type of racing, which mainly consists of lots of off-road racing. The game uses an extremely minimalist menu, with barely anything graphic on it, allowing the user to move fast through the options. The game contains a career mode as well as single race and multiplayer, either through LAN or split-screen.
In the career mode, you are asked to choose a car which will be used for the entire career. At the start of the stage and after that every 2 stages, you get to modify your car specs or repair it in a limited time (60 minutes), each modification or repair taking a certain preset time making you be careful with your car while driving and choose which parts are actually critical to repair.
You’ll have to consider even the chassis and headlights for aerodynamics and driving through the night. Also, at the tuning/repair menu, you get to see what weather will be during the race ( it can change along the race, starting with sunshine to begin with and ending up with rain ), as well as what kind of ground you’ll spin your wheels on.
There are 3 racemodes:
– Time-Attack – This one is the main type of race and it’s split into stages where you can see the performance up to that part of the race between you and the opponents. In the career mode, the times made from races stack-up into 1 huge scoreboard and you’re being scored based on that, so even if you fail one race you can recuperate from the others. You can also use a ghost in single race to compare your performance.
– Race – The normal race where you’re against a number of opponents and the main objective is to finish on the highest place possible.
– Head2Head – This mode is my favorite. You’re placed against an AI or friend (Through LAN/Split-screen) on a interchange-able track. Each racer starts with a certain track, then upon passing the checkpoint line, they experience the opponent’s raceline. First crossing the line, wins the race.
All 3 modes are available in both career and single race gamemodes.
As with almost any old racing game, there are 3 difficulty tiers: Novice, Intermediate and Expert, though the last difficulty can be played only after you complete the Intermediate tiered career.
Cars and Tracks
Colin McRae Rally 2.0 contains a rather large amount (for it’s year) of vehicles. From starter vehicles like Peugeot 206, Mitsubishi Evo VI and Subaru Impreza to unlockables like Ford Puma and Lancia Delta, a total number of 16 vehicles are available for your pleasure to drive. As expected from a race-game made by Codemasters, each car behaves different on certain types of road, for example Peugeot 206 being the best at snow tracks.
The tracks in this game represent most of the 2000 World Rally Championship season (Source: Wikipedia), with the exception of Japan. It includes all types of terrain, from tarmac and gravel to mud and snow. There’s lots of sightseeing around the track which you can explore from the road or through the trees or fences if you can’t control your car that well.
Welp, this is the only racing game that is worth mentioning of it’s cheats since, besides the all Cars and Tracks cheats there’s also a fireball cheat which allows your car to fire the mentioned fireball by pressing space (thus replacing the handbrake). Yes, knowing other games like GTA, this cheat isn’t anything spectacular. What makes it weird is the fact that CMR2.0 is supposed to be a serious simulation race game… until that cheat is activated. The cheats can be activated by creating a new driver profile and writing it at the complete name of the driver. As for what they are, there’s Google for that.
– Decent amount of vehicles and tracks
– Funny cheats
– Interesting head2head mode.
– First Person Camera (Cockpit view) available
– There are parts within time-attack races where you have to be godlike to get first place.
Release Date: PlayStation – Dec 2000, PC – Feb 2001
Genre: WRC Racing
Steam Store Page: N/A
Similar Games: Colin McRae Rally Series, DiRT Series, XPand Rally Series, WRC FIA World Rally Championship Series
1st: RaceDriver: Grid
Taking first place is none other than one of the best legal racing games: Grid. Now, before going further, I didn’t choose Grid 2 because it lacked several features that made the first game a great one to play (which will be covered below) and I haven’t tried ‘Grid: Autosport’ yet.
You start your career as a ‘rented’ driver where you’ll drive for different teams until you raise a certain amount of money to get and fix yourself a ride. From then on, the rental part becomes an option if you ever want to do it again or need some fast money.
Gameplay and Features
One of the most notable features in this game is the option to use the cockpit camera, which not many games use, because gamers prefer the camera from the back of the car (reason why the cockpit view was pulled from the sequel). The accuracy of those dashboards is amazing and you even have the possibility to control the camera left and right to see how amazingly you pass over an opponent (or them doing the same to you). Of course, you risk meeting with a wall for that curiosity, but that can be fixed with the next feature.
Second on the important features list is the Flashbacks option. If you ever make a grave mistake that’s too hard or impossible to recuperate from, you can use the Flashback option to reverse time so you can retry that turn you failed a few seconds ago. You can use up to 5 flashbacks per race. It is worth mentioning that unused flashbacks generate money for your virtual wallet.
Sponsorship is the 3rd cute feature. You are able to impress and unlock famous sponsors like Alpine, Sparco, Michelin and so on, to earn money by completing mini-objectives like finish on at least 5th place, finish with the car undamaged (always an impossible task for me), or finish in front of a certain opponent racing team. You can have more sponsors at the same time as you advance through the game, thus gaining more money per race.
You can also hire drivers (only 1 at a time though) to help you through the race, but I’ll be frank: the first drivers will mostly give you a headache. They aren’t expensive, but neither are they really skilled. Each driver will keep you company by talking a bit too much for your own comfort and even complain to you if you hit them… even a bit. But don’t worry, even if you don’t have a colleague, your coach will keep you informed about what position you are in (because the HUD is not enough apparently), or how damaged your car is(again, graphics aren’t enough it seems).
The game has several racemodes like the classic races, drifts, touges and at the end of each race season you’re greeted with an invitation to the all-famous Le Mans 24H (another thing not present in the sequel), from which you can choose from one of the 4 vehicle classes (you’ll be able to get the high tiered ones a lot later). You can also refuse the invitation and just continue with the next season.
You can purchase and sell cars normally through a reseller system or by using the eBay MotorSports options where you can get them for cheaper, based on their various stats.
The Career mode is split into 3 big championships, each covering an entire area: America, Europe and Japan, each with their own vehicles and most of the time, with their own racemod(e?)s. Each of the championships are split into 3 tiers based on car performances. Each tier contains a set of tracks which can be repeated as often as you want, but after the first race you’ll start receiving half the reward you previously got from the same race.
Cars and Tracks
A total of 61 cars (both received with the base-game and through dlc’s) await you to test them on the tracks. Renowned brands like Pagani, Koenigsegg, BMW, Audi and Toyota appear in the game. As in the 2nd place game from this top, each car handles differently although you can’t alter the car’s specs (or I haven’t found out yet how to) though you can increase the difficulty in maneuvering the car by removing all the little helpers found in the options menu, but be warned, at the beginning you’ll spin like a madman until you get ahold of the new-found sensitivity.
The tracks follow both real places and imagined ones through cities like San Francisco or Milan, Italy. Unfortunately, all the courses have asphalt which leaves little to describe. So we’ll go to the next thing: Pros and Cons.
– Decent number of vehicles and tracks
– Cockpit view
– Flashbacks, the Holy Grail of second chances (and thirds and fourths and so on)
– Decals, paintjobs
– Le Mans 24H
– The damn team voices that interfere in the race, oh so often (present as well in DiRT series);
– Sometimes the AI cars behave Godlike, going through curbs at a high speed or exceeding the max speed while we both have the same car.
– Can become extremely repetitive (I never have actually finished the game)
– As of 2011, the Grid servers are shut down, rendering the official multiplayer useless, though you can use 3rd party software like GameRanger to play with other ones.
Release Date: PC/PS3/Xbox 360 – May/June 2008, Mac OS X – March 2013
Price: 12,99 $/€
Steam Store Page: http://store.steampowered.com/app/12750/
Similar Games: Grid 2/Autosport, Need for Speed: Pro Street/Shift/Shift 2
Well, that would be it, my top 10 racing games that rule in their generation and genre. As before, it is hard to choose from my favorites. Blood-splattering games like Carmageddon where you can crawl walls, jump like a kangaroo and smash into opponents with a granite modifier while having an afterburner activated, then press a button to repair yourself in less than a second while the lava-temperatured piece of your opponent’s car are left there for you to collect at the end of the race and use yourself for even more mayhem…
Or the incredible story game filled with cars that is Driver: San Francisco and it’s unique features (but don’t fret, this one will be covered in the next article). There are plenty of awesome racing games, old and new and i will try to cover them bit by bit using different motives to invoke them.
You might not agree to this top 10, i know, after all it’s MY top 10, you might have other preferences, but i know that at least some of those mentioned by me have reached your top lists as well. See you next time. Tooloo!