You never know what SouthPeak Games has got under its sleeve. When the publisher of staff favorites like Section 8 and Dementium II told us that it was unveiling a brand new IP known as Nail'd, Games Abyss was first in line to see what the awesome folks at SouthPeak were so anxious to show off.
Maybe it's just us, but with a title like Nail'd, our minds can't help but wonder what kind of game we were going to be shown. While we pondered on the possibilities, the one thing we never thought of was an arcade-style off-road ATV racer. At first the concept didn't do much for us – if you've played one arcade-style racer, you've played them all, right? But after watching just a few minutes of the Nail'd gameplay was when we realized that we were witnessing something different, and something that gamers have not seen in a long time.
While most arcade racers capture the thrill of competition and realism, Nail'd captures the essence of the speed demon in us all. Developed by Techland, Nail'd looks so incredibly fun and moves so incredibly fast (so fast that it would put a certain blue hedgehog to shame) that winning the race just doesn't seem that important. In the words of SouthPeak Game's PR Manager, Aubrey Norris, "you will make physics your bitch". This couldn't be more accurate as your ATV is capable of defying the laws of the natural world by pulling off all sorts of insane turns and stunts. For starters, the courses are designed to be as unpredictable as possible. This means you will rarely see any flat stretches of road and will encounter multiple paths to the finish line. With the multiple paths come different sets of obstacles to discover like a collapsing walls of boulders, floating logs you will have to leap onto, hot air balloons you will have to avoid.
Gameplay takes on both the ground and in the air. The course is littered with over-achievers trying to out race you, and if you expect to win you'll have to do more than just race to get ahead of them. Smacking into these guys will cause their rides to go boom!, leaving behind a fiery smoke cloud of failure and giving you a distinct edge. When you launch into the air, be prepared to stay there for a while. You will welcome these extended periods of hang time however, as you cannot only use them to steer out of the way of flying obstacles like helicopters, but you can also pull off tricks with button combinations. As you pull off stunts and take out rival racers, your Turbo Meter will increase, allowing you to move faster.
For a pre-alpha build, the demo looked really good. The effects of Water splashing on the screen was a nice touch. The rag-doll physics and exploding ATV's made the crashes much more fun to watch even when it was happening to us. And even without motion blur effects to increase that sensation of speed, you still feel like you're moving faster than the speed of light.
Techland isn't just trying to revive the racing genre with Nail'd. The developer is also hoping to build a strong online community. While the multiplayer aspect remains completely under wraps (and you might even have to wait until after E3 for further details) we did manage to pick up some interesting information. One of the aims is to bring a third dimension to stats and leaderboards by incorporating locality. And while it will never be as condensed and centralized as to the players on your street (so you can walk over and punch that guy in the face who just beat you 20 straight times) there is talk about having leaderboards separated by state and even cities. We also learned that you can replay a finished race from your competitor's point of view. So if you are having a particularly rough night online, you can watch and see what the other guy's doing and learn a thing or two.
Nail'd will be playable at this year's E3 and we couldn't be more thrilled about it. As we anxiously wait and wonder how the title will evolve between now and then, SouthPeak Games was generous enough to share some screenshots to help pass the time. But if you ask us, this game can't come soon enough. As far Techland's ability to breathe new life into the off-road ATV racer, they have pretty much nail'd it.