Take the thrill of driving a million-dollar F1 car from F1 2010, the emphasis of realism from Gran Turimo 5, the intense customization options from Forza 3 – and throw them all out of the window. Instead, think of jumps so mental you’re practically rubbing shoulders with aeroplanes, and a sense of speed that may make the Burnout series seem tame. That, ladies and gentlemen, is nail’d in a nutshell. This over the top, off-road racer from the makers of the Call of Juarez series may not be “real” or “authentic” but it is without a doubt one of the most entertaining racers I’ve played in a while.
At first glance, nail’d may remind you a bit of Pure, but as soon as you start racing you realize it’s a completely different beast altogether - abandoning any semblance of reality in favor of break neck speeds and insane jumps. In fact, I’d say you’ll probably spend as much time in the air as you would on the ground, no exaggeration. Practically every map is littered with dozens of ramps, all of which lead to a crazy amount of air time. And the best part is that every map has multiple routes, so in case you miss a ramp while travelling at mach speed the first time round, you can hit it in the next lap.
The only way to travel
nail’d comprises of three modes - Career, Multiplayer and Off-Road racing. While the first two modes are pretty self-explanatory, Off-Road racing offers three distinct race types like Time Attack, Quick Event and a Custom Tournament. In a Custom Tournament, you can tweak the race to your liking by choosing the map, amount of opponents and so on, boosting replayabilty even once you’re done with the campaign. It’s just as well the game offers this mode, as there’s no offline (split-screen) mode nor are there any populated servers (at least for the PC). Luckily one of my mates just so happened to buy the game so I got to try out the game’s MP, which like the single player campaign is an utter blast. You can create a server, change the parameters to your liking and start racing.
I believe I can fly
The customization in nail’d is minimal, axing unnecessary cosmetic appearances in favor of more functional mods that’ll increase your ride’s speed and vehicular control on land and air. Now control is something that can make or break a racing game and this game quite literally “nails” it, be it with an Xbox360 controller or the keyboard. The game uses about four keys – accelerate, boost, turn left and turn right (in all my time with the game I've never felt the need to brake). Controlling your ride feels mighty responsive - be it on the ground or in air- so you’ll never really spin or skid out of control. Even mid-air, you can swiftly turn your ride left or ride to avoid trees, planes (yes planes) and hot air balloons.
Visually, the game surprised me with its crisp, bright and colorful visuals along with a blistering sense of speed. While the game obviously doesn’t look as good as a Burnout or a Gran Turismo 5, it holds its ground mighty well for a title that probably didn’t have a very big budget. On the presentation front, the only thing that did end up distracting me were the overdone dust and water effects that splatter your screen whenever you drive through mud or water. On the audio front we have a nice hard rock OST that fits in just fine with this sort of gameplay. There were a few songs in there by well-known artists like Rise Against, Queens of the Stone Age and Slipknot, but I think Techland’s budget probably ran out and they then went with some in-house music. It isn’t bad per say but a more expansive soundtrack would have been appreciated. Either that, or the ability to upload some of my own tunes in the game.
Lava don't scare me from up here
At the end of the day, nail’d is a simple yet highly enjoyable racer. It doesn’t give a rat’s arse about realism or authenticity, sacrificing all of that for some no-holds barred, over the top racing. It may lack the production values of some of the more high profile games on the block and it does have its share of issues but that didn’t stop me from enjoying the crap out of this game. If you’re even remotely into arcade games, I most definitely recommend getting nail’d.
Updated 19 Jun, 2013, 9:20 pm IST
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