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22:3804/02/2011Posted by Sean EvansNo Comments

Before anything else is said, I feel as if I should make this clear: I think the name ‘Nail’d’ is an absolutely awful thing to call a product, whether it’s a title for a game or the cheapest of hardcore material. Its weird punctuation and vague suggestive euphemism comes across as both extremely generic and lazy at the same time. It feels rushed and thrown together; the very bottom of the ‘Oh God, our publisher is forcing us to choose a name by 3pm or we’re fired’ barrel. I’m being crude, yes, but in all honesty there is something true to that analogy in regards to Nail’d as an actual arcade racer as well.

When it comes down to it, Nail’d is equal parts by-the-numbers and totally unique in its insanity at the same time. Playing it, I got strong vibes that everything about the game’s development had been conceived by a couple of guys aimlessly messing around with code during their lunch breaks – from its half-wacky, half-dry arcade design to its goth-redneck soundtrack, Nail’d probably has its picture next to Webster’s definition of ‘moonlighting’.

That’s not to say that it’s all bad, but at the same time much of it is. I found myself encountering a very strange duality whilst playing Nail’d. It’s almost the closest thing to a B-movie that virtual ATV and motorcross racing has ever had in a metaphorical sense. As your racer is perched at the starting line and you are waiting for the lights to turn green, everything seems fairly standard for a game of this type; there are myriad banners about the place, wavy balloon-men rapidly gyrating, excited people cheering behind the barriers, and tour vans selling merch and tickets next to them.

But it’s only when the event actually begins that you start to understand the true madness behind Nail’d. It doesn’t maintain any cartoon aesthetic akin to latter-day SSX or even the fruitful caricatures of kitschy-yet-terrible national stereotypes – there’s just something to the way the game handles at times that makes it way crazier than it probably has any right to be.

There are times when you’re boosting into every seemingly unreachable jagged corner and hidden crevice along the paths and jumps of each course, all the while consistently blasting at 150mph with little manual direction or input at all. You’re constantly and helplessly crashing without any way of preventing your temporary doom, barring ninja reflexes and enough bullet -time to make you feel like you’re hopped up on some sort of wonder drug.

What’s amazing, however, is that I found this to be a truly hilarious experience. There would be times when I would crash and then crash again within seconds of respawning on the track, and it’s not because I’m bad at the game or anything – it’s just designed this way (I think). Granted, this happens less the more you play, but when it stopped happening I started to enjoy the game less. At that point, it successfully metamorphosed into a rote arcade racer with the typical trappings of the genre we’ve all come to know and expect for years now (tournaments, time trials, ’stunting’, etc).

Online multiplayer is also included in that list of course, although I wasn’t able to find many people playing at all. The game has been available State-side for a few months now, but I was still only able to find games with a couple people at a time. That said, when you can find a game it works just fine – it’s just unremarkable.

For those first two hours alone, though, Nail’d was a very humourous and downright loopy experience. I can’t recommend it enough if you can understand how unwieldy controls can actually make a racing game better. Otherwise, I suggest you stay away from Nail’d entirely, as its unintentional tendencies towards being completely off-the-wall will do nothing to appease your simulation sensibilities.

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