nail'd review


Developer: Techland
Publisher: Deep Silver

Every now and again, you come across a game that has a generic looking boxart and screenshots that scream "meh", but you buy it anyway, because you have money to spare. You play it, and think "wow, this game is awesome!" Sadly, Nail'd isn't one of those games. It's one of those games that's perfectly content with being mediocre. No, not in the way that you'd think, because what Nail'd does right, it really does right, but what Nail'd is missing makes you unwilling to want to play it for more than an hour or two per session. At its heart, it's a blazing fast off road racer with jumps that seem to defy the laws of physics, but after the initial appeal wears off, it's a very mediocre racing game.

Nail'd is seperated into a few modes - tournament, free race and online racing. I would say that half of your time is going to be spent online, but given that hardly anybody plays this game anymore, you'll find yourself spending the most time in the tournament, mostly because... well, that's where the game is, and it's where you can unlock parts for your ATV or MX (quad or motorbike, respectively). Unfortunately, tournament is little more than just coming first (well, technically, third, but first is better) in each race, with the only variations being in the actual track designs, and even then, bits and pieces aside, tracks start to run together after a while.

So what keeps ones attention? First impressions. When you first pop this game in and head into the tutorial and even the first few races, it's like a roller coaster ride, in that it's so much *bleep*ing fun, just going really fast through tight paths in mountain forests, desert mountains and even on the side of dams, and jumping at heights only achievable in video games (not to mention surviving them - don't try this at home, kids). The track designs also look and feel good. As I mentioned, you'll mostly go through narrow passages, but oftentimes, you'll be flung high into the air, free to observe the scenery around, below and - most importantly - ahead of you. It's just such a rush, knowing that you're almost halfway to the clouds, blazing at so many miles per hour that it's crazy... at least for the first couple of hours...

At this point, the amount of time that this game will last depends solely on how much of a completionist you are. If you're alright with leaving a game incomplete because it stopped being fun, then you'll be alright. However, if you're somebody that feels a game should be absolutely completed, then you'll be in for a world of hurt, because it's after the first couple of hours that Nail'd starts to show its ugly side.

For one thing, some events in the tournament mode are labeled as stunt competitions, meaning that you must score the most points out of the pack of 12 racers. Sounds fine and dandy, and you may even be wondering why this is here. Well, here's the thing - YOU CANNOT PERFORM STUNTS! Seriously, how can you make an off road racer with quads and bikes, and forget to program in some *bleep*ing stunts!? Goddamn, did Techland play Pure, Fuel or one of the MX VS ATV games and go "man, this is good, but it'd be better without these stunts"? So what does Nail'd actually have? Well, you can boost in the air and land flat on all four wheels... you can go through firey gates... I could say that you can smash your opponents into walls, but given that you're blazing at about 9000mph, that's basically impossible to do on purpose, and even if you do smack into an opponent, it's hard to tell if you've merely nudged them or actually wiped them out. May be due to the lack of a satisfying sound effect; possible because it went by so fast that you couldn't tell - whatever the case may be, off road Burnout, this is certainly not. So yeah, the stunt races are a joke.

In fact, all of the races are a joke. Track designs aside, there is very little challenge to overcome in your quest to come first in every event. Sure, other racers catch up to you... unrealistically, of course, but not in the way that's desirable. Yes folks, say hello to rubber band AI. Your opponents will be fast as lightning when they're behind you, but after spending a little while ahead of you, they'll be slow as molasses. Even on the races that allow for unlimited boost (as that's how you'll achieve speeds previously unattainable by modern vehicles - I guess this is where F-Zero got its influence from), it's like they're going at speeds that make Sonic The Hedgehog look like a slug... until they're in front of you. Not to mention, at the starting gate, they take off as if they've been surpercharged with nitro while you were "conveniently" ignored. In other words, the AI cheats, but after cheating, it stops trying, but after apathetically trying, it cheats again. Great design, huh guys...

Not to mention, the game never gets any harder. Despite rubber banding, it's easy to win races with little to no effort, as you could crash a good number of times, and still come out on top. It really says something when, in a later race, on a harder difficulty setting (great joke by the way, guys), I win by perhaps 10 seconds, even after crashing multiple times. God, this game is far too easy! No challenge whatsoever, and when there's an attempt at it, it just comes across as cheap and/or forced, so yeah, no difficulty whatsoever!

Then there are just parts that make me think that this was rushed. Yes folks, this game has a good number of glitches, but none of them are of the fun variety; just of the annoying variety. For instance, it doesn't matter what you collide with and it doesn't matter what fast you were prior to collision - there's a 50/50 chance of it ending in getting smashed or "nail'd". But when you don't blow up, you get stuck. I know the physics aren't realistic, but that doesn't mean that colliding into a pebble at a snail's pace should result in an explosion, nor does it excuse going faster than a podracer and smashing into a giant rock only results in beind stuck. What also blows me is how colliding into a blimp causes you to explode... IT'S A *bleep*ING BALLOON! THEY AREN'T SOLID *bleep*ING ROCK! A NORMAL QUAD OR MOTORBIKE COULD EASILY GO THROUGH THEM AT THE SPEEDS YOU GO IN THIS GAME! HOLY SHIT! THE LAWS OF PHYSICS - WHAT ARE THOSE!? Don't get me started on the rest of them - this game isn't even finished, for *bleep*s sake...

Even worse are the respawn points. So much so, that you may as well consider them your brake (which, by the way, is all kinds of useless as it takes forever to slow you down - but hey, at least they got those physics right!) because oftentimes, they'll be AHEAD of where you either called for a respawn or where you smashed. Go ever so slightly off the line during a jump? Cool - you can skip it. Where you'll end up placing is nobody's business.

The final nail in the gameplay's coffin? The unlockables. You'll be notified that you've unlocked parts for your quad or motorbike, except that you'll never know what exactly just unlocked, unless you know exactly what you had before, and it always feels like the other vehicle got the unlocked parts, often forcing you to switch. The actual parts seem to make your vehicle do one or two things (normal speed, boost speed, aerial speed, normal handling, aerial handling, and some others) better, but decreases the performance of something else, possibly to help balance online racing. Good intentions, perhaps, but what about for single player racing? Just creates a hassle when solving another problem. This isn't a huge problem, especially when given everything else I've considered a problem here, but considering that online is empty, it's just crazy... Also, just putting this out there - the female drivers don't exactly look like they're ready to race. They look more like those chicks that walk by to hold up signs like "round 1" or something. CLEARLY not safe for off road racing. Oh well, you have to have something for kids to beat off to these days...

The graphics are pretty hit and miss. Environments look great, even very lush, vibrant and full of life from a distance, but then you take a closer look, and notice many jittery textures. It is as if this was originally a Playstation 2 game, upscaled to 1080p without reworking it to be.. well, 1080p, resulting in some rather questionable texturework. It's sad, because the colors are actually quite lush and vibrant... at least when you're at normal speed. But once you boost, the blur - which gives a grand illusion of speed - somehow desaturates the colors. Ugh. Way to ruin the only thing that could make the game look good... sure, the blur also looks good, but it desaturates the colors perhaps too much, and also makes it tricky to see oncoming obstacles in some cases. So yeah, mediocre graphics.

The sound design is also hit and miss. On one end, the vehicles sound more like cars from the 70s than current day off road vehicles. Quite annoying to listen to when playing for prolonged periods of time, but thankfully, you can adjust the volume in the options menu so that they're muted, and you'll be able to keep your sanity. Oh, and the soundtrack is awesome. That's the other end of the coin - the shiny end, not the shit covered one. It consists of a bunch of rock songs from various bands (most notably Queens Of The Stone Age, Slipknot [from Vol 3, aka, good Slipknot] and Rise Against), and they manage to get you into the spirit of going really fast. They could've gone for some newer songs so that it stops feeling like it was meant for the PS2 or a PS3 launch title (hell, I heard a Slipknot song from the same album in the first Motorstorm!), but this is good, too.

Nail'd manages to keep your attention for a little while, but then it becomes a chore, as all you're really doing is holding the accelerate button and turning every now and again. Sure, it's fun going really fast and jumping at unimaginable heights via quad or motorbike, and the track designs are pretty slick (if samey), not to mention that the music manages to fit very well. However, glitches, bad AI and a lack of stunts really hurts the game in the long run.


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