The world of hi-octane racing is one that can never really get stale. After all, it's about extremely fast-paced action, death defying stunts and, well, absolute mayhem. No matter how many games are made, each one still has its own unique style, and this is true with nail'd as well, the latest game from Techland. But while it does display this trait, it doesn't display it for long enough as what starts off as a fun, action-packed experience quickly degenerates into something much less appealing.
There's no real rhyme or reason why the events of nail'd are taking place, but given the nature of the game and the courses that are present throughout, there doesn't really need to be. The bottom line is that there's a tournament taking place. There are also numerous elimination rounds, and to get into the final you need to qualify from them all - something which isn't achieved very quickly.
It might sound strange, but despite the nature of the game, it has an uncanny knack of making time seem like it's going really slowly. To complete all of the races and get to the grand finale takes around 6-7 hours, but it will feel like the longest hours of your life if you do it all in one sitting. The game starts off with some simple tournaments - you have to complete six races to unlock the next step. However, races generally take around 4-5 minutes to complete so you're looking at around 30 minutes for the first cup. There are four starting tournaments, which are followed by four leagues, each containing three races. So you'll have done 36 races, all lasting around 4-5 minutes to complete the first stage of the game.
Your reward for this endeavour? A few parts for your vehicles, which don't really do anything, and a few paint jobs. Hardly worth it considering what you've had to actually go through to get to that point. Especially considering you're not even half-way through the tournament campaign. The progression is just mind-boggling, you have to do so much to achieve so little, and the presentation is also quite strange. For example, once you complete the first wave of cups, you move on to the Burner Cup and the Afterburner Eliminations. It looks like there are six races, which wouldn't be so bad, but it turns out that these are actually six mini-tournaments comprised of two to three races each. You complete eight events by completing 36 races, then you have to do another 33 races just to complete another two. It's frustrating, especially considering the game doesn't put you on many of the different tracks. After doing nine races in the Yosemite setting, only 4 out of the apparent 12 tracks had been sampled.
The main reason it's frustrating though, is because while the gameplay does exert a unique style, it's pretty boring at the same time. And the thought of having to do that many events just to see some new tracks is very disheartening.
There is a certain sense of speed portrayed as you're navigating through some treacherous landscapes, and the handling of your chosen vehicle is pretty good for the most part - you even have a decent amount of control while in the air. However, at the same time it's not all that thrilling - it will never get your pulse racing and it's probably because most of the time it feels like you're racing against yourself. Despite there being numerous AI racers present, it doesn't feel like anything you do really affects them. You can barge into them and take them out, but it's more tricky than it needed to be as they dart around so erratically. You'll also get a sense that at some points, no matter what you do, you'll never be able to catch anyone up. Then, all of a sudden (usually towards the end of a race), your opponents seem to ease off and let you win. While you might struggle to get anywhere near first place on the first lap despite driving perfectly, by the third lap, you could be 20 seconds clear even after crashing multiple times.
Gameplay revolves around a boost mechanic, but while boost does regenerate very slowly on its own, it can be acquired more quickly by performing "feats". Most of these feats are ridiculously easy though, like driving through a gate, or going through a ring while in the air. There are also feats for driving upside down in a tunnel, or landing on an opponent, but attaining them is very sporadic. You'll mostly get "fan", "sniper", "speed" and "expert". You can use boost freely whenever you have it, and it does give quite a noticeable speed boost. There's also a bug where if you boost until it's empty, it will carry on boosting for a little bit longer. Whereas if you let go when it's about to run out, it won't let you boost any more.
One thing that's worth mentioning though, is that on first impressions, the course design is absolutely amazing. Whoever came up with the various tracks needs to be commended in some way, because they are breathtaking on the first run through. There are so many ridiculously high jumps, interactive elements and alternative routes that it's generally a joy to drive around. It does get a bit monotonous when you have to keep driving around them over and over again, but the courses where there's only one lap are much more entertaining.
The rest of the presentation is pretty standard. the opposition racers, as previously mentioned, drive around so erratically that it's hard to believe they're being driven by anyone that's remotely like-minded. There's also no terrain deformation, which is something that's pretty important for this genre. There's a bit of mud spray, but that's about it. Instead, the developers used constantly-there wheel marks in order to attempt to guide you through a level.
As mentioned, nail'd does have a decent length, but whether or not you'll have the patience and will-power to force your way through the single-player campaign is another matter. There is a little bit of customisation, although some might find it confusing that the male racers are in full body-suits, while the female racers are sporting bikinis. To try and further the experience, there are some solo-play modes, like time trial, and it's also possible for you to go online to race against some real people.
Ultimately, nail'd is a game that gets very old, very quickly. It starts off very brightly; the gameplay is actually pretty engaging. However, after a couple of races it starts to feel very familiar and even though the course design is brilliant, it's not enough to stop even that from becoming rather monotonous. There are better alternatives out there if you want some off-road action.