Nail’d: review

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  • Format: Xbox 360 (version reviewed), PS3, PC
  • Unleashed: Out Now
  • Publisher: Deep Silver
  • Developer: Techland
  • Players: 1
  • Site: www.naild.deepsilver.com

If you don’t care for hardcore, perfect line racing games that get all intricate and fanatical about tyre pressure and weight ratios – but you do get a massive kick out of thrashing cars and bikes round tracks at stupid speeds and wiping out in stupendous style – Nail’d, you’d think, would be just your cup of tea.

Nail’d’s blend of over the top action and adrift from reality course design should, in theory, ring the bell so hard the clapper hangs off. And for the first half an hour, that’s exactly what it does.

The controls are simple: accelerate, brake and boost sit on the triggers and the face buttons, and steering (both on the ground and in the air) is all on the left stick. And that’s it; bar the button to change the music there’s no need to touch anything else. Which is good, to start with, as the fight to keep your vehicle on the road is hard enough at times. Not because these ATVs and bikes are difficult to control; but because what is and isn’t track can be so difficult to distinguish that for a while, some will be wiping out almost continuously. And once you’ve got a handle on the course designs, the other major wipeout factor comes calling.

Nail’d’s unique selling point is its death defying jumps – we’re talking leaps of faith here where you hammer down the boost button and rocket blind off gigantic ramps, tipping your vehicle backwards and searching the screen for the landing point; which might be right in front of you but is just as likely to be 300 metres to the left or right. This is a big kick, for a while at least, which elicits the kind of joyous woo-hooing you’d expect from something so adrenaline pumpingly dangerous. But not for very long. After the initial rush that comes from near missing zeppelins and landing in the sweet spot, the jumping becomes just another part of the race, neither exciting nor out of the ordinary.

And why are there no stunts available? As the game progresses, a quick peek down the list of upcoming events shows that there are some tracks that are all about stunts, so you’d expect to be able to pull off a Superman or a Stale Fish with all the hang time available. But Nail’d doesn’t bother with that. As far as Nail’d is concerned, stunts mean perfect landings and being able to boost non-stop for eight seconds. Hardly what seasoned action racing fans expect as a definition.

Look deeper into the way the game’s menus are set up and you can see that Nail’d is in need of some serious polishing. For example, each tournament is selected from a main menu – but once you’ve completed a race in that tournament, instead of being returned to that specific tournament’s menu screen you are popped right back out to the main menu. Sitting through the same load screen time and again after every completed race is a real chore, maddening when you know that it would have been very simple to sort these menus out.

And then the inconsistencies in the actual racing become apparent. When you crash in Nail’d you don’t get a nice, gnarly wipe out animation, you get a load screen. Annoying enough, but even more annoying when you crash in the wrong bit of course and are plopped right in front of a jump ramp with no chance whatsoever of making it, meaning you crash again and sit staring at the very same load screen once more.

And that’s not all. Sometimes you will clip a tree and get totally nailed, other times you can hit a rock at full speed and bounce straight up into the air. Never mind that on the last lap you hit the very same rock at the very same speed and got totally destroyed.

It’s not all bad. Downhill can feel more like you’re on a pair of skis – the sound of you ATV slipping and sliding down steep muddy banks is almost spot on Ski Sunday effects – and the speeds you can reach at full boost are pretty nifty, if you stay on course. It’s no doubt possible to slam your way round some of these tracks without taking your finger off the boost, if Nail’d keeps your interest long enough to master it.

The multiplayer gives an extra dimension to the solo experience but it’s still the same game and, as if to highlight the lack of polish, the fact is that once you’ve selected a track to play on (only the host gets a say) there doesn’t seem to be any way other than quitting the game and starting again if you want to choose another track. Nonetheless, crossing the line 30 seconds before your friend never gets old.

Nail’d is a good laugh for a short period of time, that could have been a good game to play with some buddies round the same screen (if it actually had a split screen function); but for those looking for some long term commitment, Nail’d is about as likely to want to meet your parents as that date you had last week with the sex bomb whose ice breaker was, “I love one night stands, they’re so dirty”. Great to go to bed with, not so nice to see beside you in the morning.

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Written by Neil

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