At a glance...

Previewer Platform Publisher Developer Players Release Date Screenshots
Matt Bailey Xbox 360 Deep Silver Techland 1-12 (Xbox Live, System Link) 19th October 2010 Here

nail'd preview

Instead of spending time being told about nail'd, when I arrived at Deep Silver's press lounge at Gamescom, I was led straight into a room to actually play the game. An intense high-speed off-road racer, nail'd is certainly a game you need to see in motion, or even better: play, in order to understand why it's such an exciting prospect. On paper it's another, pretty, off-road racing game to go alongside the likes of Pure and Motorstorm, but the differences immediately become apparent when you play. It does away with all the tricks which made up quite a chunk of Pure, and instead focuses on the racing itself. Well, almost, because the title refers to the only way you're going to get a speed boost, and that's by 'nailing' a perfect landing. The track I got to try was particularly hilly, so there were a lot of times when my all-terrain vehicle (ATV) or motocross bike was flying through the air, so lots of chances to land it right and gain some ground on my opponents.

Just stretching the legs a littleI think someone forgot to water the plantsWe all know what's going to happen next

Developers Techland are probably most well-known for their work on the Call of Juarez games, Western first-person shooters, but the production of an off-road racing game isn't completely off-beat, as they are also responsible for the well-regarded Xpand Rally. Using the latest version of their Chrome engine they have managed to produce vast tracks sprawled across a range of beautiful locations, including Greece, Yosemite, snow-topped mountains and the Arizona desert. In doing so they have made nail'd look just as impressive as the higher-profile titles like DiRT 2. Those four different environments lend themselves to track diversity with the result being 14 seperate tracks that provide a mixture of point-to-point races and circuits. One point-to-point race in Greece was particularly impressive; a non-stop thrill experience with winding turns, lots of jumps, impressive scenery, and since there were no laps you didn't repeat anything and didn't know when it would come to an end.

This exciting point-to-point race gave a good chance to show off the racing itself. The physics and handling were mad and fun rather than wholly realistic, but I think that's fairly clear from the outset. There's nothing wacky, though, and the handling itself does feel rather tight. You'll slide on corners as you hit the mud, of course, but all the way through it felt controllable. When I was crashing into scenery it felt like my fault - although on one particular track an aqueduct that you need to jump through seemed like a rather cruel challenge from one designer! The focus on racing rather than tricks seemed to be paying off, delivering an off-road racer you should be able to excel at with practice rather than luck.

There were a large number of vehicles sharing the experience in the single player mode, but you'll also be to take the final version online with 11 others. Local LAN support is also promised, though sadly no split-screen multiplayer (unfortunately a common feature this generation). Techland are also planning to mix up the multiplayer somewhat with a range of different modes from the standard competition. One hinted at already is called Boost Madeness where everyone gets a boost bar which always remains full, likely leading to some rather crazy races.

As well as ATVs and men there's also motocross bikes and women. All bases covered, then.This may be undermining the Greek heritage somewhat.

Other features set to become part of nail'd include an all-star metal soundtrack featuring the likes of Slipknot and Queens of the Stone Age, as well as special tracks made especially for the game. Vehicle customisation is also on the cards, which should go some way to boosting the single player experience. Lastly, in addition to the existing tracks, Techland are already planning more via downloadable content, and we welcome the fact that it's tracks rather than cars or liveries.

nail'd is certainly a game to watch this Autumn, particularly for those interested in off-road racing. With its focus on delivering enjoyable racing, and a surprising amount of control on the ground and even in the air, it certainly stands a chance of joining the top tier of a rather heavily populated genre.

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