Racing games have had a bit of a comeback recently. Codemasters are kicking every imaginable variety of arse with Dirt 2 and Grid. Bizarre Creations has 'Mario Kart for grown-ups' on the way in the upcoming Blur. And Justin thinks Sonic and Sega All-Stars Racing is the best thing ever (but he would). But it's been a while since a really crazy racer made a proper splash.
That could change at the end of this year when Techland's bonkers-looking bike and ATV racer Nail'd arrives. We had a short demo the other day, and can currently only describe it as a stout kick up the arse with a boot made from solid adrenaline. Well that's a lie. We can describe it using the following list of cool things as well...
Above: This isn't even the steepest decline we've seen
Nail’d is quick. Really, stupidly quick. To the degree that when we first saw a quad bike accelerate up to full speed, for a couple of seconds we genuinely thought the early preview code we were watching had glitched out.
Turns out it hadn’t. Nail’d really is supposed to move that fast. This isn’t an ATV simulation. It’s batshit arcade madness that might make you grip your pad so hard your knuckles burst through the skin, and force you to sit over a bucket at all times just in case your face should melt clean off. Just watching it was scary; the seat-of-the-pants flit between Yosemitie’s trees actually putting us in mind of the speeder bike chase from Return of the Jedi.
Above: This guy could land any time between now and Hallowe'en
If you played the still-outstanding SSX 3 last generation, you’ll know what a big drop really feels like in a racing game. Coasting along a slight the top of a mountain, you’ll notice the horizon looming up a little faster than expected, and them FWOOM! Everything’s gone and you soar, and then begin to tumble, with increasingly pant-twisting speed towards a ground level that’s around four miles below. Black Rock Studio's 2008 ATV game Pure pulled a similar trick, but Nail'd looks like a strong contender to take its 'SSX with engines' crown.
The jumps we've seen in Nail's are ludicrous in scale, and like SSX, it doesn’t give you a free ride on the way down. You’ll have to conserve momentum throughout launch and landing to ensure a clean landing and a quick getaway. Which is going to be a challenge when you’re rattling through the air between boulders, trees and helicopters at nine-thousand miles per hour.
Above: Comepetitor AI should make Nail'd an even greater test of nerve
Despite the speed and massive air potential, Nail’d is taking a very different direction from Black Rock's Pure. Rather than putting the emphasis on noodling around with tricks in the air, Nail’d is all about the race. It’s about taming the pace and rapid twists of the racetracks using sharp reactions and nerves made of titanium piano wire. No mid-air spin is going to make up for a lack of driving skills, Excite Truck-style. You stay on top of things or you die, simple as.
Above: We predict a very big drop on the other side of this ridge. Very big
Nail’d doesn’t want you to have it easy. On top of its eye-blistering speed (that’s three rather graphic Cronenbergian similes in one preview, we know, but hey, it’s Friday, indulge us), the tracks twist and turn like rollercoasters. We doubt we’ll see anything as gravity-defyingly twisted as in the likes of Wipeout and F-Zero, but despite the natural environments, the courses can and do change direction and verticality with just as much aggression and just as little warning as seen in those two sci-fi stalwarts.
Additionally, there’s no lap system. Instead, each race takes place on one very long course that takes minutes to complete. Again, it’s a very SSX technique, designed to increase tension, reduce familiarity, and make for a much bigger and more elaborately-paced ride. And again, if you’ve played SSX3, you already know how well it can work.
Above: Forget grime and grit. Every colour in Nail'd pops off the screen
Nail’d is coming from Techland, the same guys who make the Call of Juarez series. It uses the same tech employed to render Juarez sequel Bound in Blood, and that definitely shows. For all its ever-present rock and mud, Nail’d is one vibrant game, bursting with all of the colour and verve that Juarez’s open country sections displayed. Only moving a lot faster, obviously.