If you can hold down your Xbox 360 controller's right trigger with your right index finger while simultaneously holding down the X
button with your right thumb, you're more than qualified to play Nail'd
, the new "extreme" arcade off-road racing game from developer Techland and publisher Deep Silver.
In fact, you may be over-qualified. Nail'd
is fast and furious, but really shallow. Those looking for depth won't find it here, but in brief bursts Nail'd
manages to amuse just the same. Nail'd
is all about going really fast, taking huge jumps, driving up and down - and across - 90-degree inclines and forgetting about the laws of physics. Nail'd
lets you corner and steer even while you're soaring through the air at 150 miles an hour weaving amongst windmill blades, blimps and hot air balloons. Forza
fans, you can stop reading now...Nail'd
's gameplay modes are slight, but there's enough to keep most people busy for a little while: there's a career mode where you try and win trophies against increasingly stiff competition in a series of 49 events spread out over about a dozen tracks and four environments; the Simple Race option is there for one-off matches against the computer, while the Tournament mode allows for multiple race events against the computer. Multiplayer options are also present for those who want to take on human competition locally or over Xbox Live, and there's also a mode where you try and beat the times of the game's developers on each track.
People who bought Nail'd
new can also use a one-time code on the back of the instruction manual to download "Detonator" mode, which adds bombs and new tracks to the mix. For those who didn't buy the game new, Detonator can purchased from Xbox Live Marketplace. Detonator also adds 10 more achievements to Nail'd
, but as of this writing they don't work.Nail'd
's courses can be tackled on either an all-terrain vehicle (ATV) or a dirt bike and with your choice of a male or female rider. Winning events unlocks new parts and paint jobs for your ride, as well as new outfits for your rider.Nail'd
's large courses are full of ramps, jumps, steep drops, and blimps to steer over, under, and around. The tracks are laid out in ways that make getting up to top speed and staying there easy; they're hardly "technical" by any stretch. While there are lots of corners, you don't have to worry about slowing down to take them, since every vehicle in Nail'd
can turn on a dime at even the highest speeds. Nail'd
has a brake (mapped to the controller's left trigger) but you'll never need to use it.
In case you don't find Nail'd
default speed quite fast enough, it features a boosting system that allows for even more speed: by doing things like driving through flaming hoops and gates, knocking other riders off the track, and motoring quickly through sectors of the course ("Boost Feats"), a boost meter is filled up. Holding down X
activates the boost and allows you to rocket along for what seems like endless amounts of time. The designers use a slight fish-eye perspective coupled with motion blur to add to the illusion of speed, along with color slowly draining from the screen the longer the boost is activated.
You can go really fast in Nail'd
. All the time. Maybe not as fast as this
, but fast enough.
gets the speed part down pat, it misses the mark in a couple of other ways. While it's obviously an arcade racer with very relaxed physics, Nail'd
's vehicles don't feel like they're actually attached to the rugged and bumpy courses they're traveling across. Tracks feel totally smooth, almost like you're driving across a hardwood floor instead of over bumps and through ruts.Nail'd
also makes you explode a lot. You see, while the courses look very wide open, they're actually not. The tracks are lined with invisible walls, and if you brush up against one your ride will blow up. This leads to lots of absurd-looking instances where brushing against a twig or cactus causes you to explode. Even steering past the invisible barriers while in mid-air will make you blow up. At the same time, driving head-first into a tree will just make you bounce off it without a scratch. Sometimes. What makes you explode and what doesn't seems to change on a lap-by-lap basis. Sometimes you'll just blow up randomly. In most other racing games, inconsistent collision detection like this would cause endless frustration.
The designers seemed to realize how ludicrous the constant crashing was, which probably explains why there are two achievements specifically tied to how many times you crash and explode.
Luckily the artificial intelligence in Nail'd
is so weak that even the constant explosions aren't enough to keep you from finishing in first place nearly every time.
While you're making insane jumps and driving across the tops of moving trains, you probably won't notice Nail'd
's flaws. But it won't take long to realize that the game has no staying power. Not counting Detonator, there are really only two types of events in Nail'd
: races and time trials. There's a Stunt mode, but these are just races where you get points for doing Boost Feats; you don't actually perform stunts like you would in a game like Pure
, for example.
Detonator is a "hot-potato" mode where a random racer gets saddled with a ticking bomb and can only pass it on to another rider by performing Boost Feats. This mode is fairly entertaining, and when you blow up here at least you'll know why. A couple of the Detonator tracks, mostly notably one at an abandoned amusement park and another at a volcano, are also nicely-designed. To Techland's credit all the tracks are well-made, with lots of jumps, shortcuts, and panoramic vistas (usually viewed from hundreds of feet above the track).
Another aspect of Nail'd
that's done well is the customization: while the paint jobs and outfits are nothing special to look at, there are lots of unlockable parts to outfit your ride with. Each part affects performance in a variety of ways, which means you have to put some thought into your machine's build instead of just slapping the newest part onto it. Parts are unlocked by winning events, but the game doesn't tell you what it is you actually unlocked, meaning you have to exit to the menu and then fish through the parts list looking for the new ones.
Once you're finished with Nail'd
's career mode (which won't take a lot of time), the action can be taken online. Matches for up to eight players over Xbox Live are easy to find and set up, and the game runs pretty well with little noticeable lag. The problem is that hardly anyone is playing Nail'd
online; if you don't know anyone else with the game, good luck finding a stranger to play against. Nail'd
has several achievements that are multiplayer-only, which means you'll probably need some boosting partners if you want to get all of them.Nail'd
also has comprehensive online leaderboards that make it easy to see how you stack up against competition from around the globe.
For a game that's all about speed, Nail'd
's frame-rate does its part by keeping up to the action at all times. While frame-rate is king, corners were cut in regards to the amount of detail Nail'd
shows; this is a mostly average-looking racer with nothing that really stands out as looking particularly great. The game looks decent enough, but it won't melt any eyeballs. For what it's worth, Nail'd
's draw distance is quite impressive.
The sound in Nail'd
isn't bad, with respectable sounding engines, explosions, and environmental effects. The hard-hitting music befits the attitude of the game, with plenty of edgy rock and heavy metal tunes to ride along to. Most of these songs have been heard elsewhere, but a few of them were recorded specifically for the game.Nail'd
has 49 achievements totaling the standard 1000 GamerScore points. Most are pretty straightforward, and are rewarded for winning events, performing certain Boost Feats, and beating pre-established times on all the tracks. There are also some multiplayer-only achievements, relating mostly to winning events and wrecking opponents a certain number of times. Progress towards achievements can be tracked in-game but as mentioned earlier, the DLC achievements don't work, even though they're listed in the game itself.Nail'd
isn't a bad arcade racer; in small doses its fun enough. It's worth a rental or a bargain bin purchase.