nail'd Preview (PS3)

Take your basic off-road racing game, like Motorsport or Pure, give it an arcade feel (rather than realistic) and then pump it full of as many adrenaline drugs as you can find, throw in some Nitro, and a dash of gravity defying stunts, and you have Nail'd. The latest title from Polish studio Tecland, Nail'd is one of those games that's easy to dismiss, even dislike, but is actually quite a lot of fun if you know what you're getting into.

Up, up and away

This is essentially a fast paced racer that's just a little bit crazy. Tecland have had experience in the racing genre before, with games like Xpand Rally Xtreme and GTI Racing, and now it seems they're coming back to it after a detour with Call of Juarez. Sitting in a loft deep in the heart of London, playing through my first race was a bit of a surreal experience. To a newcomer, the game just seemed a bit silly. That's not meant to be a criticism exactly, but your first play through when you're trying to get to grips with the game can invoke a slight 'lul wut?' reaction. Whether this is down to the game itself or the build we played isn't clear at this point, but the more you play it, and the more you get to grips with it, the more you understand it.

Unfortunately the build we were shown was severely limited: a handful of tracks in one mode, and a look at what customisation features there were, but you can still get insight as to what the game will offer. There's 14 tracks split across a number of areas that share similar themes, such as the National Park and the Arizona Desert, and each track has a decidedly off-road feel. It reminded me of the way Split/Second felt, actually, just without the clear cut road and the environment wars. Saying that, the tactical use of the (slightly tried and tired) 'boost' feature can allow you to ram your opponents into walls, so there is that deathmatch element as well.

The main strength of Nail'd has to be tracks themselves, so far. Even though we only saw two, if the same principle is applied throughout the game, then there is going to be a lot of fun to be had here. Instead of sticking to the same three lap format, Nail'd mixes things up by making each track different. The examples shown was one three lap race with a small track, and then a one-lap race with a massive track. Each track also has shortcuts and multiple routes, so even on the multi-lap tracks you're rarely going to have the same run through.
Are you sure we're not lost?

The races themselves can take some getting used to, and to be fair this build was still a bit buggy so it's hard to tell what is going to be worked on and what are just inherent design flaws. As hinted at above, it's all a little bit crazy though. The main aim of the game is simply go as fast as you can without crashing, and perform weird and wonderful stunts in the air to keep your boost meter up. And to look cool, naturally. The way the game acts though when you're in mid-air seems to suggest their close to discovering anti-grav technology or something. It's a tad unrealistic, even at best, how you can steer your buggy or bike through the air and around obstacles - but no one said they were going for realism here.

In terms of what you can do, there's your standard fair: a campaign-type mode, Quick matches, time attacks etc... apart from the races the only other thing of note in single-player is the customisation. As you progress through the game, you unlock parts for both your ATV and your Bike (which are the only two vehicle options, as far as we're aware) which you can mix and match to help you create the ultimate machine. There's a sense of tactics here as well as we got the feeling one vehicle will suit some tracks better, whilst the other will suit other tracks, and it will be interesting to see whether you can even tailor customisations to specific tracks as well.

There will be multiplayer: Up to twelve players can compete in a race over Xbox Live, although there will be no local split screen available. We haven't had a chance to play this yet though, so we can't really comment. The only other thing of note is that the game actually has a pretty decent sound track. There's plenty of Rock, Punk and other assorted genres to get your adrenaline going whilst you watch your rival avatars slam into walls or off cliffs.
Keep your hands inside the ride at all times

Ultimately, this is probably going to be a short thrills filler game whilst you wait for something meatier to come along, even within the same genre. It'll be fun, it may even be good, but whether or not it will be worth a full priced game remains to be seen. We'll need to get our hands on a more complete build first. One to keep a casual eye on, at any rate, if you like this kind of thing. Nail'd is due out on October 19th in North America, and October 22nd in Europe on the PC, PS3 and the Xbox 360.

Most Anticipated Feature: Seeing what other kind of tracks they can come up with.