Sometimes it is nice to be able to pick from a huge collection of different real-world vehicles and race them around a real-world track whilst diligently following racing lines and trying not to accidentally nudge the other racers for fear of a time penalty. But other times you just want to go really fast, land implausibly massive jumps and generally stick the finger up at the laws of physics. This is where Nail’d comes in.
Nail’d is a racing game that relies more on pure luck and the ability to think on your feet than any kind of skill. Choosing between a quad bike or a Motocross bike, the player is thrown into simple races that will, for the most part, involve getting to the finish line before everyone else. Depth is not really something that was considered by the developers Techland, who seemed to be more interested in making the game fun. And they succeeded.
Reality need not apply in Nail’d. The off-road tracks around which the player must race, either in laps or point-to-point, have everything that you would expect. Trees, boulders, all manner of other random debris that threatens to result in a face full of dirt. But then there are things that you wouldn’t expect, such as trains, trucks, hot air balloons and even partially stripped aircraft. And don’t be expecting straight forward tracks either. These winding paths through all manner of mountainous terrain will have you driving along vertical walls and flying through the air in epic jumps through thousands of feet.
These massive jumps, of which there are many, will see the player trying to land in relative safety by not only heading for what looks like a good landing area, but also avoiding obstacles whilst flying through the air. Thankfully, although unrealistically, the player can actually steer their chosen bike whilst in the air and thus avoid the hazards of wind turbines, hot air balloons and walls of rock.
The game has a real sense of speed, ensuring that the player will need quick reactions to deal with the sudden appearance of upcoming obstacles or sharp turns. But this sense of speed is multiplied when using the boost function. Players have a gauge that can be filled by passing through boost gates, but also by performing various actions during the game, including actions that inhibit the other racers. Using this boost will see the player flung forward at such a rate that crashing is almost inevitable, but so much fun. Some of the races actually come with a modifier that has the boost constantly available and the player is encouraged to complete the race flat out, which is challenging.
Players will find themselves coming off their bikes on a regular basis, thanks not only to the outlandish tracks and huge jumps, but also due to the aggressiveness of the other racers. This is where it seems that something has been overlooked. The player respawns quite quickly further along the track from the actual crash, which can result in the player actually moving ahead of other players. More than once I found myself magically at the front of the pack after a crash.
Which is one of the different race modes that the player will come across. Other modes include a slightly cryptic “stunt” mode that sees the player racking up points for gaining boost which start counting down as soon as someone crosses the finish line, and a checkpoint mode that has the player racing to reach each checkpoint before the time runs out. Whichever mode is chosen, the player will do best to simply get to the end as quick as possible, which is certainly easier once the player has sampled all of the available tracks.
Which is one place that I felt slightly let down. The game features four different areas, each with only a few tracks. Whilst the tracks are huge and incredibly impressive, the player will find themselves repeating the same tracks over and over, which can be a bit monotonous.
This aside, replayability is ensured through a large collection of collectibles that can be unlocked for either improving the performance of your chosen ride, or the look of either bike or rider. Whilst not really offering anything game changing, these are a nice addition. There is also the compulsory multiplayer mode which certainly makes for a lot of fun, but still not really offering anything that can’t be found in the single player game. That being said, the AI in single player is not particularly challenging, making online multiplayer an attractive prospect.
Besides the real sense of speed and the phenomenal jumping, another highlight of the game is the visuals. The game really looks stunning and the sheer variety of different, quite unexpected scenery is something rarely found in a game of this type. This is supplemented by a seriously rocking soundtrack featuring a load of bands that I have never heard of that all seem to be slightly angry about something. It sets the mood really well and, even though it is not my type of music, is actually quite enjoyable.
Nail’d is a bit of a shock really. On paper it doesn’t look that exciting. But once you start playing, it is a little bit special. Sure, it may not last as long as one would have hoped, and a bit more variety would have been nice. But this is arcade racing without any thinking and so much fun. Definitely worth picking up for anyone who fancies a bit of no-brainer racing.