Split/Second Hands-On Preview and Video

If there’s one thing missing from top iPhone racing games like Real Racing, Need for Speed Shift, or GT Racing: Motor Academy, it’s the explosions. Split/Second, an upcoming racing game from Disney, aims to change that by adding plenty of pyrotechnics to the mix.

The game is set in a gigantic television studio, with a limitless budget to force drivers into horrific crashes, easily the most exciting aspect of any televised racing event. As you drift around corners you will build up a meter below the car that lets you trigger stunts which, if timed precisely, will blow up your opponents and let you take the lead.

We originally played Split/Second for the iPhone at GDC, where it was looking pretty sparse, especially next to its ridiculously detailed big brother on Xbox 360 and PS3. After just a few more weeks of work, however, the game offers much more visual detail. The crash animations in our most recent build were still a bit glitchy, though.

The game uses just tilt controls, with onscreen buttons just for braking and activating traps. Most of the traps we saw in the iPhone version were just triggered explosions, but we are hoping they integrate some of the more creative obstacles from the console version, like helicopters that drop debris and flaming airplanes that crash onto the track.

The biggest draw, besides the unique concept, will probably be Split/Second’s online multiplayer mode. You’ll be able to race against other players via Bluetooth, or locally or online via Wi-Fi. While we didn’t get to try this mode for ourselves, we are always happy to see more online games for the iPhone.

As an arcade racer with some combat elements, we think Split/Second could fill a destructive need for some racing fans. The iPhone doesn’t yet have its Burnout-style aggressive combat racer, so Split/Second should be one to look forward to. It is scheduled to come out around the same time as the console version, which will be released on May 18th.