Release Date: February 4th for the UK. Out now in North America
Publisher: Deep Silver
Nail’d officially holds the record for worlds fastest off-road racer, and it’s certainly something to see it action as you fly at breakneck speeds around the track, but what should be a white-knuckle ride on your ATV or bike of choice feels more like a rollercoaster ride involving little skill but plenty of creative “Oh my giddy aunt” moments.
Firing up Nail’d you can’t miss what the game is aiming for; a heavy metal soundtrack pounds away in the background and your first race is a death-defying race with insane jumps, massive incline jumps and plenty of moments that bring a smile to your face.
This feeling of elation even continues for another few races until you begin to realise that you’ve pretty much seen all Nail’d has to offer already. This is a shallow racer that relies on simple speed over the depth of its handling, or the finesse of its physics.
Key to any racer, off-road or not whether it’s realistic or arcade is a solid handling modelthat makes you feel like your driving the vehicle to its limits, all the time just keeping your grip on the road and dragging every second of time out of the poor screaming machine, but the handling in Nail’d simply lets you drive around everything at max speed and feels loose and light, and never once does it feel like your actually racing on dirt or mud. Instead of sliding corners or fighting to get round a muddy corner your ride handles the same no matter what it’s on.
Off-road racing should be extreme, tough and exhilarating, but the handling here simply lets you float around the track never demanding any skill from the player to navigate its well designed and often fun tracks making for a rather lackluster racing experience.
Things aren’t helped by a physics system that just can’t stay constant during play. Tapping a branch results in you exploding and being reset, but a minute later driving head-first into a moving truck has little effect.
Sadly crashing will happen a lot as well in Nail’d as the games speed becomes its most frustrating aspect. Due to levels looking beautiful but crowded at high speeds it becomes difficult to see things coming , especially as the course design loves to throw last second obstacles at you making this more of a reaction based racer rather than a talent based racer. The boost doesn’t help as it’s handed out like candy but drains the world of color when used making those already tricky to spot corners and little stones even worse. At other times you’ll simply blow up by going out-of-bounds, but figuring out these bounds is a guessing game, and a rather painful one at that.
Crashing could be eased by a good respawn system, and the system here is quicker than most at getting you back on the track, but like much of the rest of the game it’s very flawed; often a respawn will skip out a large chunk of the track giving you an advantage rather than penalizing you for crashing out, and at other times the respawn just won’t kick in. Take the game online into a multiplayer game and respawn times often triple for no reason. Whew.
The game is saved slightly by some great track design. Each of the tracks looks beautiful when you’re flying along them and there are plenty of little routes to take through the races and each track has plenty of epic moments like dodging hot-air balloons in mid-air or leaping between platforms held up by helicopters.
Massive incline changes are also heavily featured but these are let down by the camera angles as you often just don’t get an idea of the scale of these huge hills, and while heading sharply downhill you’ll find the camera looking at the dirt for a few seconds if it changes to an uphill incline leading to even more damn crashes.
Nail’d possibly has some of the biggest jumps seen in a racer as well with some breathtaking leaps of fate where you seem to float through the air for massive distances.
The modes on offer here aren’t helping the case of this being a shallow racer either. You’ve got your standard races but they rarely challenge you as you’ll leave the AI far behind in the first minute. Time trials are present and correct as well, and here the game tends to be a bit more fun as you blast around the track racing the clock. There’s even a Trick Mode to play, but oddly the game doesn’t even have a trick system, instead it classes tricks as anything that gets you extra boost, like landing a jump perfectly or driving through gates of fire – it just feels rather pointless, and if you just blast ahead and finish the race your opponents will have points taken away for every second they take to cross the line, and it’s a large amount of points as well so Trick Mode essentially just feels like a standard race.
A few races have Mutators which sound nice and exciting, but they’re really not as they just mean a race will either have infinite boost or no racer collision tuned on. Oh.
You’ll encounter all these through the Tournament mode which serves as the meat of singleplayer, but once again there are a good few flaws here; you need to complete all the races in a certain Tournament to unlock the main cups, but each tournament tends to use the same track multiple times and rarely mix up the mode either which makes the whole thing feel like a bit of a chore.
completing those singleplayer Tournaments nets you new parts to equip to your ATV or bike which would be a neat feature if it wasn’t for two reasons: first, when you unlock a new part it utterly fails to tell you what part you’ve unlocked forcing you to look through every damn section looking for it. And secondly. the parts never feel like they’re making a difference to the feel of your ride anyway. It doesn’t help that the ATV’s and bikes feel strangely similar anyway.
Nai’ld doesn’t have much going for it. It does have moments of great fun, but it’s plagued by too many problems and falls foul of the biggest problem a racing game can have: a bad handling model.
It’s a shame as the tech on show here to create the fastest off-road racer is impressive, but for anyone looking for a true extreme, fun, arcade off-road racer then go find Pure.
+ Holy mother of Mary’s pet cat! Plenty of epic moments.
+ It’s fast. Really, really bloody fast.
+ World Record for most insane racer? Possibly.
– The handling.
– What the hell blew me up this time!?
– Fast is cool, but not seeing the track is not.
The environments offer stunning vista’s and looks pretty as you blitz past it all at a 1000MPH.
The heavy metal soundtrack suits the action well, but it does begin to sound a little samey after a short while.
Go fast. I said FAST! FASTER GODDAMMIT!
A few moments of fun, and the initial novelty is great but you quickly realise this is a shallow game that offers little to come back to.
There’s a good chunk to the singleplayer, and a multiplayer mode to boot.
It has its moments, but ultimately there are too many flaws here and the gameplay, not matter how bonkers, just can’t save it.
Pure remains the King of the off-road arcade racing scene