Nail’d is the latest ATV/MX game to hit store shelves, and in such a crowded genre, it definitely has to have something special to stand out and make it worth your time. In just a few years, it’s seen one of the generation’s best overall games in Pure, and some exceptional games like MX vs. ATV: Reflex leave their mark. Unfortunately, Nail’d lacks the polish that makes the aforementioned games so good, or the bells and whistles to make it worth replaying.
Nail’d is a largely competent, if derivative off-road racer with the same kind of generic “extreme” attitude you’d find in a Danimals yogurt ad. Single player offers up a bare-bones tournament mode that has either races or stunt challenges in it. The former is self-explanatory, but the latter isn’t despite seeming like it is. See, you can’t actually do tricks in the game, so where Pure allowed you to get massive air and then do all sorts of crazy spins to earn boost and increase your score, here, things are a bit more subdued. You’re rewarded for smashing rivals, smooth landings, and wheelies. It’s exciting at times, but lacks the sheer thrill of doing insane tricks for boost.
The better you do in each tourney, the more points you’ll get in the tourney and the more parts and rider outfits you’ll unlock. Unfortunately, you can’t tell which parts you’ve unlocked - you have to go through the list part-by-part to see what items you’ve unlocked, ala Bomberman Live. It makes the process more time consuming than it needs to be, but at least the menus are clear and easy to use. Still, the tournament mode seems kind of tacked on because it’s so bare-bones. If you don’t really care about unlockables, you can get all the thrills you need with the “go off road” mode, which is basically an exhibition mode where you can race anywhere you want and customize the options for each race.
The track design is both thrilling and incredibly annoying - oftentimes one right after the other. You’ll go from a swank section that is full of exciting things like racing on the side of a dam, and then go zooming through a confusing section of woods. Or you’ll hit a massive jump, then aim for the red and white arrows marking your path, only to find that you’ve veered into some part of the track that the game determines you MUST be respawned at for no particular reason. The respawning mechanic seems completely random and kills the flow of pretty much every race you’re in. Plus, the only way to even tell where you can go is the red and white arrows that blow by very quickly. When you’re using turbo, they’re pretty much impossible to see because the screen turns mostly black and white. Online play is bare-bones, but pretty lag-free if you can find someone to play against.
The graphics are a mixed bag, with environments looking fantastic, and character models and vehicles looking pretty generic. There’s a high level of detail to the trackside world, and that truly shines when you do a massive jump and get a gorgeous shot showing you not only the track below, but also the area around It. Sometimes, the views can be quite breathtaking. The also sense of speed is pretty blistering, which works at both making things thrilling, but can make things a bit too hard to see at times. You move by so fast that trackside details, especially in highly-cluttered sections, just bleed together. When you’re in an open area, things look much better since you don‘t have a ton of stuff flying by at one time. The character models are very bland. While you can customize their outfits, you can’t do much beyond change the design and pick from pre-set color schemes.
Nail’d delivers a satisfying audio experience. The soundtrack is full of hard rock songs that have been used seemingly a million times in other games, but fit the fast-paced action well. The sound effects are also pretty good, with boost adding a convincing “oomph“ to your speed, and collisions with both trackside objects and rivals are pretty convincing. The latter especially holds true when you’ve got a massive crash on your hands and the vehicles shatter into a few pieces.
Nail’d isn’t an altogether bad game - when things are going as they should and you aren’t stuck restarting all the time, it can be a fun game to pass a half hour with at a time. However, it lacks the depth in either its gameplay or mode selection to offer much long-term fun. It’s the very definition of a game that is perfect for a rental because it isn’t worth buying by anyone because there’s only enough content here for anyone to enjoy it for a few days.