Publisher: Deep Silver
Developer: Techland Development
ESRB rating: Everyone 10+
Release date: Available now
Racing games will always be a dime-a-dozen in Videogame Land. It’s one of the simplest, yet still most enjoyable concepts for couch competition. However, as the industry has grown, racing games must continually reinvent themselves, finding new ways to stand apart when compared to similar and often times antiquated titles. Some franchises, like Need for Speed have gone down the road of realism, trying to offer games which feature physics-based handling and detailed car mechanics. Other racing games, like nail’d, are trying a different strategy – being completely insane.
nail’d offers you two basic choices of vehicles: four-wheelers and dirt bikes. Like most racing games, your ride can be customized to your liking, depending on whether you want better acceleration, handling, etc., and these options become more numerous as you unlock them. The basic challenge is to win a series of off-road races which are spread out across the locales of Greece, Yosemite National Park, Arizona and the Andes Mountains (about 16 unique tracks). Win the races, reap the glory.
The controls couldn’t be simpler. Pull the right trigger to go, steer with the analog stick, and push X to boost. I was told in the tutorial that there exists a button for brake, but I never found any occasion to use it. Boost power is accumulated by landing jumps properly or navigating through rings/gates of fire spread out around the course, and are slightly off the beaten path. But where nail’d really stands out is the fact that most of the paths aren’t horizontal, but vertical. As soon as the racing begins, drivers will find themselves either launched into the air, or plummeting for most of the course.
There are a lot of wonderful things nail’d has going for it. First, the pacing and the handling are fantastic! Drivers will feel like they’re moving at hyper-speed, yet at the same time will never feel as if they don’t have control. That’s a hard feat to pull off, so I give major credit to nail’d for achieving it. But most importantly, the game provides some of the most raw fun I’ve had playing a racing a title in a long, long time. The tracks make players “ooh” and “ahh” as ridiculous stunts are executed, continually defying all laws of gravity. nail’d is not just a game, it’s an experience!
If there’s a problem with nail’d, it’s that there’s not enough of it. The sixteen courses go by rather quickly, although to be fair each track has multiple ways of attacking it via secret paths. Also, I could never find anyone to play with on multiplayer, which really surprised me. Finally, it took me a while to understand the tournament trajectory. I wasn’t quite sure which tracks I needed to complete in order to move forward.
It’s rare for me that I play a racing game over and over, as I usually just get bored with them unless they have some sort of hook to make me come back for more. With nail’d, it was easy. It’s really hard to explain, but people who have played it will know what I mean. There’s just something wonderfully crazy about the game that keeps it fresh and interesting. I highly recommend you give it a test drive (cheesy pun most certainly intentional).