I have set myself two rules for the review of nail’d: 1) I shall not make an obvious pun out of the game’s title, and 2) I shall not (despite the similarities) make reference to, and compare nail’d to MotorStorm. The game is an ‘extreme’ racer, taking realistic physics and forces such as gravity, and giving them a swift kick in the nuts before showing them the door. High speeds and even higher jumps are the order of the day here, as the track poses just as big a threat to you as the other racers.
At the start you can choose to use one of two vehicles, which can be swapped at any time. The MX bikes are light and fast but sacrifice stability; whilst the ATVs have superior handling but lack the top end speed of the bikes. Rather than just being a bunch of statistics, you really can feel the difference between vehicles as the bike slips and slides on certain surfaces, whereas the ATVs stay planted. The best example I can give of this is in one of the many time trials. I simply couldn’t beat it using the bike and out of frustration I switched to the ATV and cracked it first time thanks to the improved handling – the machine may have been slower overall but I could take corners faster.
Through winning races you can also upgrade and customise your vehicle, as well as unlock various new suits for your driver. It’s a nice feature, although I managed to win my races without once having to upgrade. Every vehicle also has a rechargeable boost feature, giving you an extra turn of speed to help make a jump, or simply pip an opponent to the post.
The game’s main mode is a large tournament which is spread out over several events, culminating in the nail’d tournament. Each event is comprised of five races, which are a mixture of normal, time trial, and stunt. Normal is as you would expect; just you against your opponents in a race to the finish. Time trial sees you racing against the clock, with a few seconds being added on for every gate you pass – however if the timer reaches zero then it’s game over. Stunt sees you trying to not only reach the finish line, but rack up as many points as possible for passing through flaming gates and hoops.
There is also the added caveat that once the leader crosses the finishing line, everyone else’s points start to decrease rapidly. Occasionally, stipulations will be added to a race, such as having unlimited boost. nail’d has four main areas that the events take place in: Andes, Greece, Arizona, and Yosemite. Whilst they are all drastically different, it would have been nice to have a few additional places.
I guess now is a good time to mention the biggest draw of nail’d; the speed. Until now, racing an F1 car in Burnout 3 was my benchmark for just how fast a game can be. nail’d matches, and in some cases surpasses, that bar, and is absolutely brutal. Scenery tears past you at a blistering pace and it takes all your focus just to maintain a straight line and find the arrows marking where you should be heading. Add your boost into the equation and the speed notches up to a ridiculous level, to the point where my wife watched me play it for twenty minutes before asking “how can you even play that? I can’t even see where you need to go”.
Tracks are full of enormous jumps and you spend just as much time in the air as on the ground (from checking my statistics I have currently travelled over 150 miles in the air). Your landing area is very rarely straight ahead from the jump ramp, so deft manoeuvring of your vehicle is required as you try to find the sweet spot between a perfect landing and maximum distance.
The game really is an intense experience, and demands that you give it your total attention, lest you catch a face full of tree. There is also a multiplayer mode which supports up to twelve racers. The maximum I ever managed to get was a five player race but it ran smoothly with no lag to speak of.
Unfortunately, whilst there is a lot to love about nail’d, it does have some problems. Yes the speed is impressive but at times it feels like the tracks haven’t been designed with it in mind. Time after time you will boost off a jump straight into a wall, or a tree, or some other object that completely ruins the flow of the race.
Your vehicle also splashes up water and dirt onto the screen, which is a nice effect but can obscure a good 50% of the screen, and in a game that requires split second reactions having your vision restricted can get frustrating. Half way through the game you unlock a time trial tournament, and a stunt tournament, and the only way to progress is to complete both of these. This wouldn’t be so much of an issue if it wasn’t for the fact these tournaments are 23 races long. Having to play so many of one game type felt more like a chore than a high octane racer.
However, by far and away the biggest issue with nail’d is its respawn system. When I crash in a game such as this, I expect to be back on the track instantly. nail’d, however, takes you to a respawn loading screen before placing you back on the track, which costs you three seconds. This might not sound a lot, but when you lose a time trial by two seconds you can imagine how frustrating it can be.
It gets even worse in multiplayer where loading times of up to eight seconds are common, completely stripping away any competitive enjoyment. The crash animation is also very inconsistent and at times your vehicle will explode for simply brushing the side of the track, whilst other times you can drive full pelt into a wall and just stop there until the game decides to allow you to respawn.
- Very fast
- Rock solid framerate
- A fair amount of content
- A lot to enjoy
- Some inconsistent track design
- Poor pacing in the middle
- Respawn system
So, a very mixed review for nail’d. There is a lot of fun to be had with the game; it’s fast, there’s a fair amount of content, and two different styles of vehicle to master. Unfortunately it’s plagued with issues which can spoil the experience somewhat. If you feel you can handle these issues, then go out and get yourself nail’d… damn it!