There have been quite a bit of racing games released this year. Among them are the prominent high octane racers Blur and Split/Second as well as arcade legend Need for Speed Hot Pursuit and simulation giant Gran Turismo 5. One would think that those should cover all the genres’ bases but that would be a wrong assumption to make as Deep Silver’s nail’d breaks the norm and rips off the lid. Polish development house Techland has created a super fast, hectic but controlled off-road racing experience that plays like no other racer you’ll get your hands on this year.
While nail’d is not necessarily a game that reinvents the wheel, it does take certain elements of a racing game and elevates them to create an over the top experience that will leave you white knuckled. Nail’d is an ATV and dirt bike based off-road game that will take players to absolutely extreme tracks based on locations in Arizona, Yosemite Park and more. The tracks are well balanced with a wide variation of fast straightaways, massive jumps and barrel role type turns. When I say the tracks are extreme I mean it, racing on each of the different types is an absolute blast as you boost, jump and ram your way past the fairly competent opponents. There were several moments in nail’d where I was wowed by the intensity and scale of the different tracks.
In order to gain an advantage over the competition players can utilize the boost meter which is filled by completing ‘feats’ such as landing massive jumps, reaching high speeds, hitting targets mid air or causing an opponent to crash. Keeping the boost meter filled is the way to success as the other AI racers will put up a decent fight, especially in the later stages of the single player tournament – the main mode in nail’d.
As I said previously, the game is fast – frantically fast – which makes it extremely fun but sometimes overly challenging to stay on the path due to the pace. Once players are familiar with the courses however, this will not be much of a problem. The different tracks and locations vary enough to keep the game interesting and challenging. I really enjoyed the tracks that were long continuous paths rather than lap based because the variation and surprise was always keeping me focused on upcoming turns and jumps. All tracks also have alternate routes, making it fun to choose a path each go around – this also helped shortcutting the competition and just plain switching it up. Many of these shortcuts or alternate routes will have to be chosen in mid air which brings me to one of the best aspects of nail’d. In-flight steering – it is just as important, maybe even more so, than maneuvering on the ground. Players will be required to steer up and down and side to side in mid air, not only to stay on the path but avoid obstacles in the air such as bridges, trees and hot air balloons – yes, hot air balloons.
There are several race types in the tournament mode including simple race, a time attack, boost and stunt modes. Boost races will provide all players a full boost meter that does not drain, causing an even higher speed that will have you holding your breath a few times to long. The stunt races, on the other hand, ask players to be precise while completing the previously mentioned feats to get the score meter up – position does not matter as much here – just driving like someone who has to nail some sweet jumps! Completing all the different levels and race types will ultimately lead to a grand finale. During the course of the tournament players will earn new parts and outfits to customize their riders and vehicles, allowing for adjustments in speed, boost and maneuverability.
After finishing the tournament mode, players can always head online or play the several one-off offline race modes which are just as fun as the tournament. Nail’d also comes with a day-one DLC pack which includes the Detonator mode – this race type is a game of hot potato with lots of explosions.
Techland has done a great job capturing the essence of a fast paced, off the wall racing game that takes the action to a new level. Throughout my time with nail’d, I never felt artificially punished and always wanted to come back for just one more race. The sense of speed, combined with the big air, which often reminded me of ski jumping, is an awesome combination for an off-road arcade racer like nail’d. I don’t really have anything particularly negative to say about this game, nail’d is a solid title that will fill a hole you might not have known existed.
Score: 8 / 10
nail’d was developed by Techland and published by Deep Silver for the Xbox 360, PS3 adn PC on November 30th. A copy of the Xbox 360 version was provided to us by Deep Silver for reviewing purposes.