The triumphant return of VIDEO GAME MADNESS!  In our never ending quest to speak about everything we geek about, it’s time to write about some awesome video games that need your sweet, sweet lovin’!

Recently, Disney Interactive released a demo for their new racing game Split Second on both the Playstation Network and Xbox Live, and if you haven’t downloaded it, then  STOP READING THIS AND DOWNLOAD IT NOW.  The demo for Split Second is, hands down, one of the most effective demos I’ve played in years.  You get a good feel for the game, and you get a pretty spectacular racing course that changes a bit every time you play it.

See, the premise of Split Second is a little different from your average racing game.  The goal isn’t just to win the race, but you have the ability to attack other drivers while you do it.  And not in a Death Race kind of way with machine guns strapped to your car, or throwing turtle shells out of your tail pipe.  No, the way you win these races is by setting off well-times traps – exploding trucks, buildings, planes crashing into the middle of the racing course, skyscrapers toppling over, helicopters dropping bombs…whatever it takes to win, and look good doing it.

The strength of the demo convinced me that Split Second was a must own, and I recently picked it up and have been playing it pretty much non-stop.  Check out the rest of my review after the jump!

Split Second is just about the best racing game I’ve played in a long time.  Really, fans of games like the original Need for Speed series (before they decided to go either way too arcade with Nitro or too simulator-like) will absolutely love this game.  Sure, you’re not really racing with real sports cars, but the cars are real enough, and rather than get lost in simulator-like realism, there’s a good amount of mixture between driving control and arcade action and really, when you’re driving through an exploding airport, does it matter how real it is?

What I think I enjoy most about the game is that it doesn’t go too far into the arcade controls – the cars drift around turns and don’t just snap into place, crashes are tremendously painful looking, and different cars drive differently.  Despite the fact that parts of the game will have you thinking you’re driving some of those old school racing games that had you driving around dinosaurs and volcanoes, the racing engine really is more akin to the aforementioned Need for Speed series (developer Black Rock Studios previously worked on the racing game Pure).

The real joy of playing Split Second, however, is in the explosions.  There is so much going on on the screen that you’re likely to get lost in the chaos, but that’s kind of the point – not only that, but you’re likely to have a ball getting lost, too.  Tankers explode, buildings collapse, bulldozers destroy cars – it’s not just explosions for explosions sake, but it requires skill as well.  It’s easy to blow up another car, but you’ve got to avoid getting caught in your own trap as well (it’s going to happen – a lot).  Not only that, you have the ability to cause explosions so large they actually change the course layout, leading to multiple ways to drive the exact same course (the airport level in the demo alone has at least 8 different ways of driving it), leading to the kind of variety that will make you want to play the same courses over and over and over again.

Not only that, what’s shocking is just how smoothly the game runs, even with all the activity going on.  I’d understand some slowdown, based on the sheer amount of action, but the game never lets up on the speed, and the speed effects (the camera shakes when you go really fast) just add to the overall experience.

I can’t recommend Split Second enough.  It’s a great time, and quick to learn (my dad was able to pick it up within one lap, and he doesn’t game very often).  Not only that, it’s liable to be a good game to play with friends, based on the fact that most everyone will be yelling at the screen when stuff starts blowing up.

Split Second has already been dropping in price to as low as $37 (at Target this week only) – pick it up!

Paul's Awesomeness Score - 9