I'm on the train home from Disney's London offices and I'm wondering whether Black Rock has overdone the realism of Split/Second's crashes a little bit.
Not because they look weird (they look amazing) and not because there's anything wrong with the physics (there isn't). More because my neck is sore from leaning into corners like a 12-year-old playing Mario Kart, my throat hurts from shouting at the people I've been playing it with, and I've got a nasty friction burn across my collarbone. No idea about that one actually.
Plus, of course, I'm on a shaky comedown from all the adrenaline. The last couple of hours have been filled with explosions, hair's-breadth escapes and aggressive racing-line ownerships. It's exhausting stuff, and the physical toll it's taken on me is more a testament to the nature of the game than it is to my poor fitness.
You've probably played a bit of the demo by now, and the chances are you enjoyed it, but dumping a huge quantity of reinforced concrete onto the bonnets of some AI cars is nowhere near as satisfying as ruining real-life opposition.
Split/Second's vehicles, broadly split into three categories of truck, muscle and sport, have a tremendous sense of weight, and because of this they have genuine impact in the frequent and satisfying collisions. They're low-slung, stylish and predatory, emphasising the very tactile arcade driving model as well as the aggressive nature of the game.
We're given three choices to play with during our session, one from each class, designed to highlight the pros and cons for each of the three multiplayer modes of race, elimination and survival.
Race is self-explanatory. Played online or in split-screen, these are battles between eight cars on any of the unlocked tracks, of which we were exposed to around 16.
They're as straightforward as racing gets in Split/Second, which is actually to say 'not very'. Routes and shortcuts change on almost every lap - disorientating for the first couple of races, but thoroughly enjoyable thereafter - while explosions, rock-slides and renegade cross-channel ferries punctuate every other corner. As a result the grid stays pretty fluid, with a well-timed powerplay easily dropping you four or five places.
There's almost always a chance to dodge the more serious obstacles which suddenly drop into your path, however, alleviating the frustration of unavoidable sudden death.
The reasons for this are twofold. First, powerplays take some timing to pull off. The icons that appear above other racers' heads to signify that a powerplay is available are visible for a second or two on each side of the actual window of opportunity, meaning that laggardly or overenthusiastic use will miss your intended target. Second, because powerplays trigger events rather than weapons their consequences can often be avoided with quick reactions and a bit of driving nous.
Even in the most hectic of races you rarely feel hard done by. Seeing a crane swing the engine block of a 747 across your path, eliminating the frontrunners and elevating you to first, does feel a bit like cheating, but only in the most delicious of ways.
Eliminator is another mode you may be familiar with, especially if you've enjoyed DiRT 2, WipEout or any of the many other games that use it. It's a race but with constant 30-second countdowns, and the player in last being eliminated at the end of each half-minute.
Because of the fluidity of the positions in any Split/Second race, these events are less predictable than they sometimes are elsewhere, with some of the satisfaction of avoiding elimination sacrificed in favour of a last-chance turnaround.
However, because of the sheer number of track layout permutations on any given course, positions also often change unexpectedly - suddenly dropping players a place or two when they've not been visibly overtaken, but simply because someone's taken a better route.
Survival, finally, introduces a number of huge, doubly articulated lorries which career around the track alongside the racers. Getting sideswiped or blocked by one of these 18-wheeled behemoths is bad news, but the real threat lies in the explosive barrels that spew constantly from their rears.
They come in two types - blue ones which disorientate and barge your vehicle, but don't wreck you, and big flaming red ones, which bloody well do. The trucks are spaced evenly along the tracks, with a few seconds grace in-between, meaning that there are precious few breathing spaces between huge tracts of explosions.
To earn points you need to overtake the trucks, and passing several in a row without being wrecked earns you a multiplier. After a few minutes sudden death rules are engaged, with your next wreck being your last. Highest point total wins the day.
It's hectic, sometimes a little too much in places, but powerplays are disabled so that things are easier to handle. Nonetheless you often drive pretty much blind into a storm of explosions, and just as often with pretty disastrous consequences. It's not one for the faint-hearted, but enormous fun when you're on a roll, threading your way between barrels, a huge armoured truck and suddenly-appearing scenery.
It's also a good showcase for the strengths of different car types, resulting in a toss-up between the agility of the sports car and the resilience of the truck, as the bulkier vehicle is relatively unscathed by smaller explosions. Survival could well become a favourite with twitchier players, and should be a blast among friends.
That balance of spectacle to predictability seems just about right. Presumably, as players get to know the tracks, there will be fewer surprises for everyone, as drivers approach potential powerplay zones more cautiously - and that might be a bad thing, but then it might simply alter the dynamic. If the balance between chaos and control evolves with experience, knowing when you're most likely to be slammed could heighten tension instead.
Split/Second's tracks are excellent, and the game's easy to enjoy thanks to chunky car modelling and forgiveness offered by the driving model. Multiplayer is a big improvement on the already-enjoyable single-player time I've spent with the demo, too, so I'm pretty excited about the prospect of how this could all pan out - something we will find out in next week's review.
Just remember to bring a neck-brace.
Split/Second: Velocity is due out for PS3 and Xbox 360 on 21st May.