I remember when I didn't know the difference between arcade racing and racing simulations. I was but a wee tyke and thought all racing games were created the same. I know better now and given the chance, I'd probably enjoy something that is somewhere in the middle. Not super realistic like Gran Turismo 5 or super "arcade-ie" like Crazy Taxi. Or in this case "Nail'd".
Nail'd is an off road arcade racer if I ever played one. Created by Techland and published by Deep Silver, Nail'd is non stop dirt racing action. Only motocross and ATV's here, so if you want a dune/dirt buggy or Baja truck you'll have to look somewhere else.
This is an arcade racer at a pretty pure level. There are some customizable options, but about half of them are for show, and most are unloackables. At the outset, you can choose your rider, which is just a generic male or female. Then choose your outfit. After that, choose your ride and it's off to the races. The choices you have for your ride are minimal at first. It's pretty much two options that aren't locked for every category, which are: body, engine, tires, shocks, handlebars, decals, and color. Every category has about five or six options total except for decals which has something like ten or more.
The game play is pretty straight forward. It's gas, steering, and boost. There is a brake button, but you'll never use it unless you're showboating hard. Turns are easy to stick as you're vehicle is fairly agile right from the get go. Even in the air turning is pretty easy. Yes, you will have to steer in the air to avoid crashing into stuff and to land properly.
Crashing happens a lot. Like every 30 seconds type a lot. When you do crash, you blow up in grayscale slow motion and then respawn. Depending on how close the race is, you can lose a few positions waiting the two seconds to come back from spawning. There were times when you could see that you could've ridden over something but instead you're crashing in slo-mo.
Boost is interesting as there are a few ways to earn it. The easiest way is to ride through flaming posts/hoops. These are usually put slightly out of the way so that if someone is right behind you, going for one may mean using that boost to regain the lead. You also can fill your boost gauge by doing certain feats like landing certain jumps or doing other things. The game doesn't say what the criteria is, but the manual does. Most happen by chance; so most of time you'll be riding through the flames.
The tracks are varied and ridiculous. There are four locales with all races and tracks taking place in one of the four. There is a major emphasis on "verticality" as the marketing material says. Basically, if you remember what the SSX series was like, then you're off to a good start. The tracks are meant to send you flying through the air for about a quarter of the race. There are ramps everywhere and along with those ramps are obstacles of every kind - from trees, to boulders, to bullet trains, there's so much to worry about hitting that other riders will be the least of your worries. There are also three types of tracks. One is a three lap track. The next is a longer version that is a one lap track and the final is a stunt track laden with ramps.
The tracks are fun and boosting over massive jumps is fun. Unfortunately, learning the tracks is very hard. The combination of lots of turns and the fact that every track doubles back and twists around itself makes them all like running through a maze at break neck speed. Also, there are times where obstacle layout is pretty aggravating. There are stretches of forest you race through that have trees EVERYWHERE. It's to the point where you almost have to slow down in order to not hit anything because your vehicle can't maneuver that quickly. Don't get me wrong, steering is easy and precise. Just don't expect to be able to drift any turns regardless of the fact that 90% of the time you spend on the ground is on dirt.
The music is hit or miss depending on what your preferences are. If you like bands like Slipknot and Queens of the Stone Age, then racing will be a blast. If you're like me, however, you'll be headed to the options panel and putting all music on mute rather quickly. I got about an hour of track time in before hitting my limit.
Sound effects are okay. The rumble and roars of the engines are acceptable, but I don't think there quite realistic. This is an arcade racer, so that's forgivable. The noise you make when you crash and sub sequentially blow up is no where near as impactful as you would imagine. But then again, crashing happens a lot. There are other sounds like birds and trains, but you don't really hear them because of how focused you have to be to race. Visually, the game looks pretty sharp even though there's nothing really setting it apart from other games like this. Environments are lush and everything detailed from the in game models to the boulders you hit all the time. There is a very "xtreme" aesthetic with the art direction. I thought this had died out, but apparently I was mistaken. I'm actually surprised that they didn't get any real world sponsor in the game. I can totally see Rockstar energy drinks plastered all over signs and banners.
There is also this effect where when you drive through mud or water; it splashes up on the screen. I can see this being cool if instead when you were passed or riding close behind someone this happened. But why would I want my character to be a distraction to myself? Oh wait, I don't.
Nail'd is a fun dirt racing game that'll provide hours of mindless enjoyment. Out of 5 TOV stars, Nail'd rips through with a solid 3.5.