Are you ready to get nail’d?
Posted 2 years ago By kingquagmire - David Collins
We’ve all raced before, right? Sure we have. Be it with our leg tied to another kid’s leg in grade school, running cross-country in high school, or trying to beat our buddies down the block on our bikes, we’ve all been racing someone or something in some fashion or another for as long as we can remember. Video game are no different. Racing titles have been around since the beginning and the one constant across them all is speed. Going fast enough - either by way of a more powerful engine or through prowess on the track - is the top priority.
But when was the last time you literally felt the speed though? When was the last time you truly thought you could feel the wind whipping by your helmet or the sting of airborne debris as it hits your flesh? Probably one of the fastest experiences I’ve ever enjoyed wasn’t even in a racing game. The classic Sonic the Hedgehog put me in a place that few other games ever had. For me, it was the king of speed. Until now.
Polish developer Techland - known for their middle-of-the-road Call of Juarez franchise - has jumped back into the racing genre with nail’d (the last racing game they did was 2006’s GTI Racing.) Stop right there. Before you start rolling your eyes - admittedly, we’ve had plenty of racers this year - this is one speed demon that deserves your attention.
nail’d is an off-road ATV/motorbike racer a la Pure and DiRT. It carries all the standard goodies you would expect, including an extensive solo cup circuit, multiplayer races, a garage to customize your bike, exhibition races, Leaderboard support, etc.. Except this one certainly sits more in the arcade camp as the sim features are more aesthetic than anything else. The 14 tracks - 18 if you include the free launch DLC - are spread across four different locations (Greece, Yosimite, Arizona, and the Andes Mountains) and each will take a slightly different strategy to complete depending which of the five different race types you are competing in.
Given the small number of tracks and locations, the solo campaign was an extensively pleasant surprise. While you can take the path of least resistance, if you want to do it all as you make your way to the nail’d Cup, there are over 50 races to complete. The difficulty is a piece of cake at the beginning, but as you make your way into the second tier of races, you’ll soon find yourself being tested with each lap.
Aiding you along the way is Boost. Basically, as players land certain feats (such as causing an opponent to crash or making the perfect landing from a large jump) or hit the flaming hoops/goals, they gain Boost. Then, they can in turn use the turbo to achieve greater speeds; something that will be needed in order to hit some of the bigger and better death-defying leaps.
Sounds like pretty standard stuff, right? But wait, I did mention something about speed, right? You see, while the standard features may be exactly that, what sets nail’d apart from the rest of the pack is it’s design philosophy. All tracks were created for the vertical experience. So you will spend more time jumping obstacles and falling (literally!) than you will scuttling your opponent on a section flat track. In fact, there is little that’s actually “flat” on any of the tracks. From beginning to end, it’s all inclines, declines, ramps, canyons, twists and turns. Tracks are laden with jumps that can span hundreds of feet. Some of them even require you to turn sideways and shift 90 degrees in order to land back on the track. Throw in the speed, which is much faster than most of the off-road racers on the market, and you have something that will both blow back your hair and at the same time, induce some seriously gut-wrenching vertigo.
Visually, nail’d is on par with what we would expect from an off-road arcade racer, although you’ll be hard-pressed to care when the close environments are nothing but a blur. I did find that the tires kicking up the mud and water on the screen was a nice touch. The far environments are a different story though. The vistas are simply gorgeous and unique to each of the four locations. Yosemite is full of forests and muddy mountain streams. Greece will wow you with it’s jagged cliffs, old ruins and hot air balloons. You can just feel the heat radiating off the deserts and the prick of the cacti littered about the Arizona landscapes. All of it will be a feast for your eyes, especially when sailing through the apex of a 300 meter jump.
The audio is solid as well. Anyone who’s followed the development of the game via the nail’d Facebook page already have had some exposure to the soundtrack that’s headlined by such acts as Static X and Slipknot. The sound effects themselves add to the pulse-pounding action with engines revving at the starting line, the slosh of the water as it’s splattered by your tires and the soft thwap of the bike as it lands on the dry earth.
The only thing I enjoyed more than white-knuckling it through the ruins of Greece (my favorite location overall) was jumping into the multiplayer. It’s pretty much identical to the single player as far as options are concerned, but knowing that you are racing other human beings made the competition that much more satisfying. The leaderboards, something I tend not to care too much about, became an addiction of sorts as I wasn’t satisfied until I was on top - a position I did hold on to for a few weeks, although I’ve since been bumped to 17th.
Is nail’d the best racer of the year? No. But, it is easily the best off-road racer of the year, not to mention the most fun experience I’ve had in a racer in a long time. The exhilaration felt when making those long leaps into nothingness, followed by the measure of relief that flows through you as you lay eyes on the distant ground, is nothing short of awesome. Provided you aren’t overwhelmed with nausea and a panic-inducing vertigo in the process. As a bonus, new copies of the game will ship with previously mentioned four additional tracks in the form of free DLC. Trust me, no matter how you feel about what’s on the disk, the four new tracks showcase both the vertical racing philosophy and the terror-joy-terror spirit that resides firmly at the core of the game. If you’re looking to get your race on without asphalt, then you need to get nail’d.
+ Some of the highest jumps I’ve ever seen
+ Beautiful vista
- Without the speed/vertigo, it’s a pretty standard racer
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Release Date : 2010/11/30
System : PlayStation 3
Publisher : Deep Silver
Developer : Techland
Category : Racing
ESRB : T
7.0 / 10
8.5 / 10
8.0 / 10
8.7 / 10