Hands-on Preview: nail’d

Deep Silver has been very active about showing off their upcoming arcade racing game nail’d, and with good reason. Several members of the staff have had a chance to check the game out, with myself and Jon Widro getting some play time in with the game at E3 this year and Chris Bowen and Aileen Coe spending time with it not too long ago in New York, and the general consensus is that the game is looking to be a solid piece of work. With an emphasis on arcade style racing over simulation elements, as well as a solid presentation and a very unrealistic, almost Jet Moto sort of feel, nail’d has been shaping up through the past few months as a game to watch. Deep Silver’s wonderful PR rep Aubrey Norris apparently likes giving us early Christmas presents, as she forwarded along a build of the game for us to look over prior to release that’s about as close to retail ready as one could possibly expect, complete with online play access to test out. While the review won’t be ready for just a little bit longer, we’ve had a chance to sit down and put the game through its paces a good amount, and to say that nail’d is paying off its early positive press is not at all a fallacy in the slightest. From the time spent with the game, it’s a fast-paced and fun racing game that’s easy enough to pick up, and looks like it’ll be a winner for fans.

The racing itself is the main attraction, of course, and the controls honestly couldn’t be much easier. The right trigger accelerates, the left trigger brakes and goes in reverse, the left stick steers, and the A button kicks in a turbo boost. That’s really about all you need to know about driving, and you can literally pick all of that up in the tutorial the game gives you when you boot it up. There are some more specific uses of said controls, especially when steering in mid-air, that you’ll pick up as you play, but for the most part, the controls are quite easy to learn… it’s the racing itself that’s challenging. The courses literally go all over the place, up walls, down tunnels, past moving cars and trains, and of course, over large jumps that send you airborne for large distances. To say that the racing is intense is an understatement at times, as you’ll find yourself on tracks that force you to dodge obstacles like your life depends upon it… or at least, your place in the race. Crashing loses you a few seconds while the game respawns you on the track, and as such, should be avoided whenever possible. If you need to get ahead in a hurry, like in a case where you end up crashing and losing your place, the game also provides you a handy option to use turbo to boost your way forward. You have a finite supply, of course, though the game is quite nice about giving it back to you, as you have several options to earn it. Landing jumps clean, jumping through flaming rings, passing through flaming gates, and performing various feats while racing, among other things, will earn you a healthy amount of turbo power to use whenever you need it at the press of a button, though you’ll want to be mindful of the fact that using said turbo when attempting to take a turn is… probably not a good idea. Just saying.

Outside of the racing, you can also customize your racer and vehicle from a variety of options that you unlock as you complete races. You’re offered the option to use a male or female racer and change their costumes from a few options, and while the game doesn’t offer Smackdown levels of customization, what’s here works fine. You can also choose between motorcycles and ATV’s as your vehicle of choice and customize the paint job and parts of either. The paint jobs offer plenty of unlockable options as you progress through the career mode, though the parts are the more interesting of the options, as each part has its own positives and negatives. Building “the best ride” isn’t so much the goal here, as each part has its own positives and negatives, so you’ll instead want to build the best ride for your style of racing. You can build a more balanced ride, or a ride that’s best for fast acceleration or top speed, or a ride that handles well and maneuvers well in the air, or whatever best suits your play style, and as you unlock parts, each will help contribute to these efforts in its own way.

The game offers a large amount of tournaments to go through to unlock everything, as well as a few non-tournament related options, such as time attack mode, quick event (single race) mode, and custom tournament mode where you can make tournaments against the CPU, so you’ve got options for playing solo or testing new rides. The major appeal of the game outside of the tournaments, however, is the online play. You can choose whether to jump into a normal “simple race”, go for a Stunt Challenge where the player with the most points at the end of the race wins, or Free Race and try to earn the best possible time. You can pick from various maps and modifiers to customize the race to your liking, and by all indications, the game supports up to twelve players in a single race. I had a chance to play online with a couple folks from Deep Silver, and to say that the online play was even more frantic than the offline play would be an understatement. The game was also quite stable so far, and looks like it handles online play rather well.

nail’d is looking to be a top notch racing experience, though only time will tell if it pays off its first impressions. We’ll be back in about a week with a full review, so be sure to keep an eye out here on Diehard GameFAN to find out if nail’d pays off its first impressions as well as one would hope.

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