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when i first loaded up Nail'd, my expectations were of something that was following hot on the flaming, pneumatic rubber heels of the MotorStorm series (and doing so on the 360). this thought made me happy.
what made me even more less-happy, however, was the absurd, apparently un-ironic recourse to a kind of hilarious, yet also tragic, über-machismo. i guess you don't have to be an internationally renowned scholar of psychoanalytic anthropology to guess that a game called "Nail'd" is probably going to be leaning in that direction, but it was the extent of the lean that amused and appalled me in near-equal measures.
if you want to get right to the heart of what is going on in Nail'd (setting the aforementioned Freudian analysis of the title to one side), you need head no further than the menu. among your fairly limited choices is that of the sex of your rider. choose a man, and you'll be confronted with a guy in a hardcore, tricked-out, fully customizable rock 'n roll death suit. choose a woman, by contrast, and you can head into the options menu to select for her any one of several tiny bikini tops. hmmmm.
one element which had me chuckling, was how goofy the riders look.
Nail'd is clearly trying hard to be -- as my friends Gareth and Jett from The Film Talk movie review podcast always say of films they've yet to see -- an action-packed, adrenaline-fuelled thrill ride. however, in reality it's a fairly dull and poorly thought-out racer in which you get to bounce and float your way round ultra-rugged, bewilderingly complex looking, but ultimately basic and unavoidably linear courses on an 'all-terrain vehicle' or motocross-style bike.
The visuals are fairly 'meh', with the attempt to make everything look unbelievably fast by blurring it and having it all continually fly at and past you wearing thin and becoming dull pretty quickly. where the attempt is presumably to invoke the feeling that anything can happen, and that you are constantly on the verge of losing all control, rather like Sonic The Hedgehog or the aforementioned ultra-futuristic racers of the late 90s, the fact that you always seem to end up going in the right direction ultimately has the opposite effect.
one element which, given the image the game is pushing, had me chuckling, was how goofy the riders look when you make them steer in the air in order to pass through boost-enhancing fire rings. as you push the analogue stick left or right, they cock a leg and shift awkwardly around in their seat -- not very cool. it's little wonder that the demo video adopts a driver's eye view and depicts an empty track.
while it's obvious that the boundaries of what is physically possible are being stretched beyond breaking point (and that's fine), for me, there is with racing games, a minimum requirement of realism in terms of physics in order for the investment of my efforts to be worthwhile. the controls and interactions in Nail'd, however, just don't cut it in this regard. the handling is so loose and unresponsive, and the collisions -- both between vehicles and, more problematically, between your vehicle and elements of the scenery -- are so implausible, that it didn't take long before i was confused and bored.
in addition to the dodgy driving feel, far too many of the races at the outset of the career mode and laughably simple to win -- i replayed several, deliberately trying to wreck my way out of contention, but enjoyed laughably little success.
i was surprised to find that they'd bothered to include soundeffects in Nail'd, given that i imagine the majority of its core demographic will enjoy supplying their own engine noises.
given the fact that the one player mode is too easy for too long and i found the online play to be sparsely populated with drivers and riddled with glitches, it is a huge flaw that once again a game crying out for offline, split-screen multiplayer has shipped without it. when will they learn that staying at home without friends and playing online is SO last decade?
in summary, Nail'd is an 'extreme' racing game for the kind of men for whom a perfect day off is spent lying on the sofa in nothing but boxing shorts, rapidly consuming meat flavoured crisps and cheap lager whilst watching Michael Bay movies or reruns of Top Gear on Dave. in fact, i was surprised to find that they'd bothered to include soundeffects in Nail'd, given that i imagine the majority of its core demographic will enjoy supplying their own engine noises -- rrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr, rrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr, eeeeeeeeeeeee. basically, if Transformers II wasn't your favourite film of the 00s, i'd avoid Nail'd like a racist neighbour.
[if you'd like to see more of the weird and wonderful world of reallyquitetired then the door is always open at his semi-detached house/blog]
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