Split Second Stats and Records

Stats time!

PS3 Trophies 20/47
Total Credits 2910
Power Plays 465
Crashes 165
Route Changes 3
Distance Driven 495 miles
Close Calls 181
Longest Drift 235 Yards
Rivals Wrecked 421
Local Play Number 18
Online Play Number 99

Level Stats: Level Placements

Episode 1 1st, 1st, 1st, 2nd, 2nd, 2nd
Episode 2 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 2nd, 1st, 1st
Episode 3 1st, 1st, 1st, 1st, 1st, 1st
Episode 4 1st, 3rd, 3rd, 1st, 3rd, 3rd
Episode 5 3rd, 3rd, 2nd, 2nd, 3rd, 3rd
Episode 6 2nd, 2nd, 1st, 3rd, 3rd, 2nd
Episode 7 2nd, 1st, 1st, 2nd, 2nd, 3rd
Episode 8 3rd, 2nd, 1st, 1st, 4th, 3rd
Episode 9 2nd, 2nd, 5th, 2nd, 1st, 1st
Episode 10 2nd, 4th, 2nd, 3rd, 1st, 2nd
Episode 11 1st, 1st, 3rd, 1st, 1st, 3rd
Episode 12 1st, 3rd, 1st, 3rd, 2nd, 2nd

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Split Second Review

Split-Second_US_ESRB_PS3
It’s time to check out a car game that I recently got. This may come as a surprise to some, but I’m actually a huge fan of the racing genre. There are few things more satisfying than nailing a crisp turn and sailing into first place. It’s why I used to play a car game on my PC for so long. Anyway, this is the first racing game that I’ve played in a while, not counting spinoff titles like Farmyard racing. This is probably the first pure racing game I’ve played since Asphalt 3D. (I think that was the title) This is definitely a really fun game and one of the best core driving games out there. It does have a gimmick and while I sometimes prefer my racing games not to have any (F-Zero) I don’t mind them if they’re handled well. Look at Mario Kart after all.

There are a few modes to play when you start the game. Online mode is around of course, but you’ll likely be heading straight to Season mode. (Honestly, I haven’t gone online at all) The season has 12 episodes in it and the general plot is that you’re starring in the show. Think of it as one of those reality programs on TV. You have to dodge all of the landmines and disasters to claim first and prove that you’re the best. Each episode has 5 events, with the final one being unlocked if you’ve earned enough points. Rinse and repeat until you’ve reached the end and you can replay old levels to increase your standing and earn more points if you’re short. For the most part I was able to make it to the end naturally but I did need to replay a few. Once you unlock a certain car at the end of the game, you’ll be breezing through it with no problem.

There are different kinds of events. The main one is a race. You go through the stage and try to come in first. The gimmick that this game rolls with is that you can use your energy meter to set off traps. You can energy by turning and driving behind another car. The best way is to dodge an opponent’s trap, but they rarely spring any. You can activate traps as soon as one energy bar is filled or you can wait til they’re all filled and activate a massive one. I don’t recommend the latter since you’ll typically destroy yourself as well. If there’s going to be a gimmick, I typically prefer a quick booster, but I can live with this. It’s a pretty unique concept after all and I like the strategy behind it. You always have to decide if it’s worth using your energy now or later.

Another event is Elimination. You start with 60 seconds and have to ensure that you’re not in last. After that, another car is eliminated every 20 seconds. You must stay at the head of the pack or you’ll risk being eliminated. This is another pretty fun event and as it’s quite a bit shorter than a race, it’s a lot easier to keep on replaying. Another event is the Airplane boss. You have to attack it by shooting missiles using your action meter. In this case, I recommend waiting until the red one is ready to go since you can then deal massive damage. Next is Survival which is probably the weakest by default. It’s just you by yourself as you try to complete the stage while the A.I. activates all of the traps. It’s essentially a time trial so it’s not all that exciting.

Finally, there’s the Oil tanker battles. This is the best one by far. A truck ahead of you will be spilling barrels and you have to dodge them as you overtake it. The more trucks that you pass in a row without being hit, the more points that you get. It really tests your reaction times and takes you down if you dare to go too fast. It’s just a lot of fun and I would have loved to have seen more of it. The variety of events in the game helps keep the gameplay fresh throughout.

With 72 levels in the game, it’s certainly one that has an ample amount of content. If anything, I’m glad the game didn’t overdo it and throw in over 150 levels just because it can. As it is, most of the levels are the same. I think there may be 12 tracks total, with a few more if you count night versions. It’s not a lot although I suppose it’s a decent amount. You’ll memorize the layouts after a while which is certainly useful. There’s a lot of replay value here as well. If you decide to aim for the Platinum, you’ll need to get 1st place on every level which will be quite difficult. It’s certainly not impossible, but I’d expect you to be replaying the levels many times before you can finally ace them all. Multiplayer also guarantees that the replay value is basically unlimited.

The graphics for the game are quite good. All of the cars look shiny and new. I could have sworn that one of the cars almost looked as good as the Ford Focus. The levels are nice and bright and the rare night time versions are also quite crisp. The game has aged very well there. Furthermore, the soundtrack is also pretty nice. There are some really good action themes. The music fit in pretty well even if I didn’t notice it in some episodes. It would sort of pop in and pop out if that makes any sense. I suppose not every theme can be an instant winner.

The game’s difficulty level feels pretty fair. There was a very brief time where I felt the computers were a little too fast and strong, but once I got the super car it was all good. I never really mastered the drifting mechanic, but I’d say that it felt fair. The overall gameplay was nice and smooth. Towards the end there weren’t many opportunities to drive as fast as the title would suggest, but driving as fast as possible was always very satisfying.

I also have to give a shoutout to the ending of the game. The voice acting was spot on and the way the game ends just begs for a sequel. Whether we get one or not, it works really well as a stinger. I was practically shaking by the end of the cutscene. You’ll see what I mean when you watch it, but I can safely say that I would be super hyped if they announce a sequel.

Overall, Split Second is definitely a great game. It’s one of those titles that you just don’t want to put down once you start it. You’ll find yourself wanting to play it constantly and you’ll be sad once it’s over. Once again, I do think the length was just right though. Extending it further might have felt artificial and they also got the right balance with the points needed to unlock the final levels. You had to do pretty well in the events (1-3rd place for the most part) but it wasn’t anything too crazy. You don’t want it to have to be a grind to beat the game, that should be left for the people who want the Platinum. The game was just solid on all accounts and I’d highly advise buying this title. It’s one of the best car games on the market.

Overall 8/10

Cruis’n Review

Cruis'n
It’s time to look at another title from the legendary 5 dollar bin. Let’s face it, it’s always an honor to pick out a game from that selection and I specifically went to a new Gamestop when I heard that they were still carrying this title. Cruis’n is everything that I had hoped for from the screen shots and while it is a pretty short game, it does have a decent amount of replay value to keep it relevant.

There are 13 races and you get to challenge them in Circuit Mode. Landing in the top 3 allows you to move onto the next stage. It is true that you can theoretically complete this game in under an hour since the average race is 2 minutes or less, but but you’re bound to lose at least a few times so beating it in an hour can still be tricky. Keep in mind that you may need to swap cars during this adventure as your first one will likely have some pretty underwhelming specs compared to the first one.

Winning a race gives you some spending money, which you can use to buy your next car. I bought most of them and ended up with 3 left. I guess I shouldn’t say “buy” though. When you get enough money, you automatically unlock the car. The final car needs you to have 2 million dollars and I ended the game with a little over one million. You earn 100 grand for each first place so just 10 more races would have been enough to have achieved that. I was tempted to do that so that I could say that I 100% completed the game, but there’s ultimately not a whole lot of point to doing such a thing so I took a pass on that. Perhaps I will go back for that someday.

The gameplay is pretty straight forward for a racing game. There are no items or real gimmicks here aside from the casual boost. You can boost three times and it gives you a decent chunk of extra speed, but it’s not too drastic so it doesn’t take the balance away from the game. Since this is an arcade style game you really have a lot of freedom as you drive around. You can break into a building and watch with awe as you look at the fun details. The fact that the developers actually designed the insides of the building is pretty neat since there’s a good chance that you could beat the game without ever going inside. Turning works pretty well and the gameplay is a lot of fun. The game will quickly reset you to the right direction if you’re spun around for too long so you never have to worry about stopping. Just power through to the goal!

Cruis’n is also purely a motion control game as you hold the Wii remote sideways and tilt to turn. Surprisingly, it actually does a good job with these controls and you’ll never have to adjust the Wii sensor or back away when you realize that the controls are not working. Everything works almost perfectly here and that was definitely neat. Once again, I have to stress that this isn’t your average 5 dollar bin game.

One aspect that I liked about the gameplay was the unique addition of random cars on the tracks. A lot of games like Mario Kart have experimented with other cars acting as obstacles, but not to the degree that this game throws them in. Most of the stages have dozens of cars blocking the way in the stages and bumping into one of them can critically hurt your chances of reaching 1st place. They are sometimes driving in the same direction as you or going in the opposite direction so you’ve always got to stay sharp. It’s why using your boost can be a risky endeavor.

The graphics are actually very good and that’s where I disagree with most reviews. The general consensus seems to be that the graphics are pretty bad, but everything actually looks pretty sharp. I am quickly reminded of the racing game that I used to play on the computer over a decade ago. The cars and stages are similar to that as well as the gameplay. I loved that game and still consider it to be one of the best racing games of all time. This title may not be quite as good, but it’s still pretty great and that goes for the graphics as well. Most of the game takes place in the night it is impressive to see how clear the game looks. I definitely have no qualms in this area.

The area where I do have some qualms with the game is the music. The soundtrack tries to be edgy or ghettoish, which results in some good tunes, but the overall music leaves much to be desired. It’s why I’m not even a fan of the average Madden title as the music gets a little too out there. For racing, I just want fast paced themes with no lyrics. That will let me race to the best of my ability with no distractions. In a game like this, you certainly will need to focus.

I also have to take away points for the suggestive content in this game. As this is underground racing, the game has a scantily clad lady holding up the “Ready Set Go” sign and she’ll also dance in the background when you take first place. Throw in the sad voice when you are going through the modes and it takes away some of the wow factor from the game. We definitely didn’t need this and more games should just play it straight if they really want to win. From the voices, the only one that I actually like is the creepy laugh. It pops up randomly during the game and that can definitely be pretty intense.

Now, the main reason why this is in the 5 dollar bin is probably because of the lack of content. After you unlock all of the races, then you can unlock a handful of cars. Unlocking those will give you some more options, but there’s nothing to do with them. Playing the stages is the only thing to do aside from the classic Multiplayer mode. You can upgrade each car to its maximum potential by participating in races with all of them, but even the average perfectionalist probably wouldn’t bother with all of that. So the multiplayer mode makes up the majority of the replay value, which means that you will probably want to have someone to play this game with. Otherwise, it’s certainly going to be a very short experience.

Overall, Cruis’n is a very fun racing game. Keep in mind that it’s only about 3-4 dollars for a reason, but it’s well worth the price. Given the fact that you could be done with it in 30-60 minutes, I could understand being disappointed if you bought it for 30. Even 20 dollars would have been a stretch, but for under 5 dollars I think this is sufficient. The levels that you do play are pretty great and the A.I. actually manages to keep things competitive. It never gives up and all it takes is one wrong turn to throw you from 1st to 8th. The graphics are better than expected and they easily hold up against any racing game. The suggestive content can make you wince, but it’s still not as bad as it could have been and it disappears once you are actually in the race. I definitely recommend this title and now I’m looking forward to seeing what racing game I play next. Let’s just say that we may not have to wait very long for that. Also, it should be known that I used the Pontiac Firebird during my playthrough since they didn’t have the Quest. It’s a very reliable car and I recommend using it when you play this game.

Overall 7/10

James Bond 007 Agent Under Fire Review

James_Bond_007-Agent_Under_Fire
Who would have thought that I’d be playing a James Bond game eh? While the films leave much to be desired; the concept is pretty good for a video game. This one is actually a First Person Shooter, which is the first time I’ve played one since Metroid Prime if I recall correctly. It’s not my favorite genre, but as long as it’s better than the Eternal Ring…it should be fine. Let’s see if the game had what it takes!

The plot involves 007…AKA James Bond as he undergoes a mission. See, detailing the plot for anything James Bond related is tough because there are numerous plot twists and changes that occur during the story. You can’t really say who the main villain is without spoiling the character and the history behind it. Either way, it’s not ultimately important because the game doesn’t even have an ending. After you blow up the building (With a big character still inside) the game abruptly ends. I suppose that there is no longer a threat so it can be an “ending” in that sense, but it feels really sudden. The ending just comes out of nowhere and hits you like a flash.

While the plot is forgettable; the cutscenes will stay with you for a while. James Bond continues to make many wisecracks and one liners in these scenes. Some are pretty clever like what he says when one of the villains falls in a vat of acid. Others just remind me why I don’t like James Bond. He can never take his mind off of pleasure. It also leads to his demise more times than not. One of his allies suckers him into going to the base because he put a hologram of a shower with someone inside. Another person hired a lady to jump into a pool and when Bond rushed out to appreciate the view, he got tackled from behind. Bond never seems to learn from these mistakes as he’s back to normal in the next cutscene. The voice acting is pretty good and Bond definitely sounds similar to his voice in the films. There are other characters in the game, but none that are really memorable. This is a James Bond game after all! I could have done without the romance in the story, but it’s James Bond so I was prepared for it.

The FPS gameplay is about what you would expect. It can be a little hard to remember that the C stick moves you horizontally and I fell a few times from it. One can still jump, crouch, and use a lot of gadgets aside from the gun. FPS definitely isn’t my main style, but it could have been worse. Metroid Prime definitely wins with pure gameplay, but Agent Under Fire managed to stay fun through the levels. Aside from the shooting aspects, there are also a pair of levels where you get to drive in a car. Naturally, this was the most fun part of the game. The gameplay was really good for this part and it felt like Need For Speed, but even better. (My problem with Need For Speed is the lack of actual speed) You really got to zoom in these levels and the various weapons on the car made it fun as well.

There are 12 levels in this game. That’s not a whole lot and most of them can be finished in a few minutes. In that sense, it’s definitely a lot shorter than De Blob. (Another short game) It took me two sittings to finish all of the levels, but it was a considerable amount of time because of the later levels. There are rarely check points so if you lose; then you usually have to go back to the beginning. That can be tough after a while because of how long the levels can feel. I definitely could have used more check points in the game. A slight negative would be how vague the game can be at times. It took me a while to figure out that I needed to use my jetpack to get to the final boss and blowing up the ceiling with a rocket launcher that I didn’t even know I owned was another challenge. I randomly got lost a few times as well. Maybe this helps the game to be a more complete experience, but they could have added more details.

Agent Under Fire has a decent amount of replay value. You can keep on playing the levels to get all of the Platinum Medals and unlock a hidden video. I got a bronze and a gold or two, but getting all Platinums sounds pretty difficult. It would be a nice challenge, but one that I don’t really have time for. The game also has a multiplayer mode, which considerably increases its replay value. Nothing like challenging your friends to the FPS that was cool before Call of Duty showed up! I dare say that this one is a lot more fun than Call of Duty. (Haven’t played it, but it’s not my style)

The graphics are a little underwhelming. It has a retro Gamecube feeling, but it’s just too dark. As with the Mummy, you’ll need to increase the brightness settings on your TV if you want to be able to see well. In a game where sharpshooters can be found anywhere; this is pretty critical. I wouldn’t say that the graphics are terrible, but they could be better. I still have fun with them since they’re awkward in a good way. (Like Hotel Mario)

I know that I’ve been giving just about everything a lot of props for the soundtrack lately, but it’s just my good luck that the themes have been so good. James Bond doesn’t disappoint with the fun tracks and we have the classic one from the films, but also a great danger theme. When you run into some minions; the theme will quickly pop up and it’s a very fast theme that’s fitting for battle. It reminds me of some of the themes from the original Spider Man game for Gamecube.

Overall, Agent Under Fire wasn’t a bad game. The car levels were a lot of fun (I wish that there had been more of them!) and the FPS mechanics weren’t bad considering that I’m not usually a big fan of them. The story may not have been memorable, but the cutscenes were pretty fun at times. (Some much more than others. Naturally, I could do without the romance) I definitely recommend this game to all fans of Call of Duty and you should enjoy it if you’re looking forward to a good secret agent story.

Overall 7/10