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Fire works.

Dark blue icons of video game controllers on a light blue background
Image credit: Eurogamer

"The one iconic action sequence that comes up time and time again is that idea of a big articulated lorry attacking the smaller hero car." Nick Baynes, game director on Split/Second, is about to show us a New Feature!

Waving an Xbox pad around excitedly as Eurogamer munches on a bourbon cream in the Brighton studio's meeting room, he reels off examples from the movies: Bad Boys 2, The Island, Terminator 2. Each one, he says, has its Mega Truck vs. Hero Car moment. Now Black Rock's made its own virtual tribute.

Nemesis mode - the name's a place-holder - is "old-school arcade", a quick-fix change of pace the developer wants as "something that felt different to the rest of the game". Simply, it's survival against the clock. You get a time bonus for overtaking lorries, which are everywhere, with angry AI drivers programmed to reverse their 'How's My Driving?' sign into your face at 100mph.

The trucks also regularly dump payloads of coloured barrels, currently in eighties-arcade blue and red. Hit a blue barrel and a small explosion impedes progress; hit a red one and it's game over. There's the added promise of a strategic dimension through tricking other AI drivers on the road into shielding you from the blasts. Circuits are specifically designed for this mode and, naturally, full online leaderboard support will be built in. "It's a nice break from the rest of the game," adds Baynes.

The Docks level starred at Eurogamer Expo.

Very possibly, but we're still a full tank of petrol away from being in need of a break from Split/Second. The game proved one of the highlights of Eurogamer Expo - both in Black Rock's epic big-screen Developer Session demo and on the showfloor. You lot got to go hands-on and, by-and-large, seemed to come away mightily impressed.

"We had great feedback from the show," beams Baynes. "Everyone can see the scale of what we're doing and the visual spectacle. When people play it they realise it's actually really good fun as well and that it's not just a series of pre-canned events."

Our latest visit to the studio (practically a stone's throw from Eurogamer HQ, although we've been asked to stop trying) promises more hands-on time plus a good chunk of new stuff we're not allowed to play yet. Fine by us - that plate of biscuits won't eat itself. And having demoed the Dock and Airport stages to death, Baynes - despite protestations from his team that it's still a bit broken - is itching to show us a new one: Downtown.

Probably wasn't worth polishing it given it's about to get set on fire.

All Split/Second's action takes place in a single location split off into tracks, and Baynes insists the "20km2 footprint" is about the same world size as Burnout Paradise. Our demo of Downtown begins on an elevated roadway. The evening sun hangs low in the sky and long shadows are cast across the tarmac; sparks fly as cars jostle for position across snaking flyovers and deep into the city's narrow veins.

What separates Split/Second from other racing games, of course, are its powerplays - multi-level power-ups which literally collapse everything from cranes to giant cruiseliners onto the raceway, ideally to take out rivals, although sometimes you inevitably take out yourself instead.

The powerplays in Downtown are just as spectacular as we've seen elsewhere. A helicopter plunges from the sky and ruptures into flames; a bridge buckles and cracks as if shaken by a violent earthquake; explosions burst dramatically from either side.