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When I received my copy of Nail’d in the mail I had no expectations for the game, partially because I had no idea what type of game it was. Before I ripped open the packaging I expected some new extreme carpentry simulator or perhaps even an innuendo laced romp similar to the Leisure Suit Larry series. Instead of those equally interesting choices, I got a questionably named arcade racing title. Needless to say, I was underwhelmed.
Nail’d is an off-road arcade racing game that aims to be over the top. If you’ve ever played a Burnout title, you will definitely see some influence in this title. You race against the computer or online opponents and jockey to hit the finish line first. You can gain an advantage by smashing into your opponents and sending them careening into the sidelines or by performing what are known as boost stunts. These boost stunts range from popping a wheelie to riding upside down for a few seconds. Each stunt gives you a certain amount of boost that allows you to gain an edge over the other racers.
Nail’d features only a handful of game modes with a few different “mutators” which can change the elements of the race. These mutators can be set to allow all racers unlimited boost and to turn off player on player collisions. These mutators, while interesting, do not add enough to the race to the finish line formula. The mutators are not fleshed out enough to really make a difference and thus fade to the background of the experience.
The environments in Nail’d look vivid and bright, and the individual tracks are fairly detailed and different enough to give each track its own flavor. The tracks vary from Greece to Arizona and contain obstacles such as trains and mountains. They feature huge ramps and 1000 foot drops on almost every single track. While the tracks are interesting and the visuals are great, they still do not change the fact that a lot of the game boils down to memorization of the tracks. Once you race the track about 3 times or so, you will be able to easy crush at least the AI opponents. While the tracks appear to have several shortcuts at first, it is quickly revealed that most tracks do not feature actual shortcuts but rather alternate routes. There is little incentive to try to improve your time, because once you get a perfect run it is not likely you will be able to better it by more than a couple of seconds.
Being an arcade title, there is little depth to this title. Nail’d misses the boat completely on vehicle customization offering less than 30 parts to trick out your bike or ATV. Most of the parts do not enhance the vehicle at all but rather rearrange the already allocated stat points. You will not ever obtain the perfect vehicle and may not end up with a vehicle that is not any better than the one you started with. This gives almost no incentive to completing the single player mode because at the best you will end up with is a slightly different vehicle after 5 or so hours of racing. This in a sense is infuriating, but does give an equal footing online.
Speaking of online, if you are an online gamer Nail’d is nothing short of a failure. This is not due to a bad online component; in fact, the online matchmaking is pretty nice and when you get a match it works well. The problem is that there is absolutely no one playing online most of the time. When there are people available this is where the game really shines. The online opponents always feel more evenly matched than AI opponents and hardly a race will go buy where the top 3 racers are separated by more than a second. It is simply a shame that most people who own this game may not ever be able to play a full 12 person online race.
The soundtrack is serviceable but certainly not something to write home about. It features a hefty chunk of licensed music and even original instrumentals by established artists like Clutch. Most of the licensed songs are hard driving metal and rock songs by artists like Slipknot, Queens of the Stone Age, and Rise Against. If you do not like this type of music then obviously the soundtrack will not appeal to you. Even if this does appeal to you this game suffers the same soundtrack fatigue as most games that feature licensed soundtracks; after the first 5 hours or so the songs will start to wear on you just from the repetitive nature. Thankfully there is a skip function built into the game that helps delay the inevitable.
Nail’d is a great example of a completely average game, falling just shy of realizing its full potential. Considering that this is a new IP it certainly has room to improve and a solid enough foundation to build a great franchise off of. The lack of customization and shallow gameplay really hurt this title, but the adrenaline junkie in me still finds this enjoyable even if the experience is a bit uneven.