Nail’d Xbox 360, PS3 Review

The emphasis in Nail’d is most definitely on an arcade style of racing, with speed coming a close second. Be they quad bikes or motocross that you’ll ride in-game, these babies handle like nothing in the real world. You’ll be flying – quite literally at times – at break-neck speeds around some of the most mountainous terrain I’ve ever seen in a racing game. This will lead to crashing, and quite a lot of it. If you like your racers hectic, then you’ll find a lot here to like. Right from the start Nail’d is throwing everything at you almost faster than you can take it in, and that is its greatest strength.

When you first load up the game you’ll find your options to be pretty basic; tournaments, go off road, or multiplayer, with the first two being equivalent to a career mode and single races. It’s not a great first impression, but pick an option and start a race, and you’ll soon realize it’s not that important. Within minutes you’ll find yourself tearing around some beautiful scenery, jostling for position with eleven other racers on courses fraught with danger at every turn. You’ll have to watch out for the natural obstacles of rocks and trees as well as dodging man-made  perils like oncoming trains, and oversized buzz saws, it certainly gets your heart pumping.

And that’s what Nail’d is all about; the thrill – of which there’s plenty to be had, on the ground, and in the air. As I mentioned earlier, you will be quite literally flying around these courses, with some pretty spectacular jumps and drops. It’s just as dangerous in the air as it is on the ground, if it wasn’t enough having to dodge rocks and trees on your way back to earth, there’s plenty of other stuff to watch out for. Helicopters, hot air balloons, cable cars and wind turbines  all make for some pretty crowded air space. You’ll need to negotiate all of these to make it to the ground in on piece. Luckily the bikes at hand are just as agile in the air as they are grounded, allowing you to twist and turn mid-air to avoid these hazards.

It’s a thrill ride through and through; fantastic courses,  nimble vehicles and non-stop hazards. Throw in a generous boost system and some raucous, (if a bit repetitive) rock music, and you’re looking at a pretty attractive package. Or at least you would be if it weren’t for a few things. I’ve already mentioned the game’s basic format, but that’s hardly a deal breaker. A proper career mode would have been nice, but the tournaments are passable, even though they do throw the same courses at you a bit too often.  Some better unlockables would have been good too, the tournaments get pretty damned tough, and to be rewarded with just a part for your vehicle and a couple of paint jobs for winning, feels about the equivalent to a day’s work in a third-world sweat-shop.

Luckily none of this really detracts from the most important thing; the gameplay. Sadly though, the game does have one problem that works against you, possibly two depending on how you look at it. It’s way too easy to crash, and the game sometimes takes liberties with it. Stray off the course a little bit too far and that’s a crash right there. There’s no invisible wall to keep you on the course, just a respawn and valuable seconds lost. Then there are solid pieces of scenery that you would think would be a definite crash if hit, but often you’ll just bounce off them. It makes it a bit tricky knowing what you can get away with, and it doesn’t help when glancing blows off less substantial obstacles result in your bike exploding.

Despite the dodgy collision detection though this is still a lot of fun, and pretty nice to look at too. The sprawling courses have been  nicely produced and pass by at incredible speeds without any noticeable drop in frame rate. Environments have plenty of variation too, across desert, forest and snowy terrain, with lots of different styles of route. Through underground tunnels, across rickety bridges, even racing over sheets of corrugated steel dangling from helicopters, it all looks great. Add in mud and water splashing against the screen and you’ve got one impressive looking racer that plays pretty well, even with its collision problems.

Although fun, it doesn’t have the greatest depth in the world. Nail’d is unreservedly a mindlessly fast racing game.  It’s the kind of game you could easily blast through in a weekend, but it is cheaper than the average game, so if you like fast arcade-style racers this is definitely worth a look.

7 out of 10
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