FlatOut 4: Total Insanity looks to bring the series back to it’s former glory. With a new developer behind it, will FlatOut 4 be able to fill the void of destruction based racers? Read our review below..
FlatOut 4: Total Insanity is an entry into the destruction sub-genre of racing games, one that has seen a bit of decline in recent years, it’s been 6 years since the release of the previous title in the series, which was met with dismal reviews. Kylotonn, are the latest developers to give the series an overhaul, while it is not perfect, there’s bags of fun to be had with the various game modes, specifically the stunts which you can read more about a little later.
The main game mode is of course Career, with the three car types having their own cups to take part in, consisting of both arena and race events. Starting out in base vehicles and events that only consist of a couple of races, you’ll want to claw away at coming first to grab the biggest cash prize possible to use towards either upgrading your current car, or buying a new one. Here lies one of the first problems with FlatOut 4, the money earned from races is somewhat paltry compared to the prices of upgrades and new vehicles, which in the long run will see you replaying some events over and over just to be able to afford upgrades to keep up with the pack in later events, let alone purchase a new car. Now I’m not saying the game should throw money at you in order to buy a new car every other race, but there’s a definite imbalance of cash earned to upgrades and new vehicle payouts, making the Career mode feel a bit of a grind at times.
Controls in game are pretty straight forward and easy to get to grips with, although those that like to change things around and get the controls feeling just right for them will be pleased to know that you can re-map buttons in the options screen, there’s also options to set parameters for acceleration, brake and steering sensitivity & dead zones. providing some decent fine tuning options for overall controls.
This is more apparent when talking about the difficulty of the game too, as it’s not just a straight up arcade game where you can rely on riding guard rails to get round corners, as FlatOut 4 does incorporate some realistic physics, this combined with the extremely aggressive AI will lead to a lot of restarts as quite often you’ll be rounding a corner with the chequered flag in sight, only to be spun out by one of the AI, or hitting an imperfection in the road sending your car into a snake only for the back end to come around on you. Don’t get me wrong I’ve enjoyed this mix or arcade racing and realistic physics, it just feels very unforgiving at times having to restart an entire event because of a last second hiccup. The game could do with either a difficulty selection to tone down the A.I. a little or even a rewind/flashback function that has become staple in most racing games of late.
Next on the list of things to do in FlatOut 4 is FlatOut Mode. This is a single player challenge mode of sorts, providing you with a large variety of events, a single car to use for each and a target bronze, silver and gold score for each, with later events becoming available once you hit a cumulative score for all the previous events. There’s 42 in total meaning plenty of hours to lose in this mode as you try to get the gold score on each. Events here include Carnage, a game mode where the aim is to finish as close to the front as possible while scoring as many points as possible from destroying your opponents and the environment, Beat the Bomb is a check point style race where you have a bomb on board, and have to hit the next checkpoint before it goes of resetting the timer, Keep the Flag is pretty obvious and finally Stunts.
Stunts are by far the most enjoyable aspect of FlatOut 4, there’s 12 of them in total, all consisting of ejecting your driver through the windscreen of your car in order to play FlatOut 4’s version of games such as Golf, Billiards, Cup Pong, High Jump and more! It’s highly addictive, either played singleplayer through the Quick Play menu, or with up to eight friends in the couch co-op controller swapping Party Mode. I just find it quite baffling that for some reason playing the stunt mode online is completely missing, as it would definitely extend the online life of FlatOut 4 ten fold. I’m not bashing the online mode here, as it was a riot, especially the Arena events, however there’s only so much enjoyment you can have out of two modes that have three variants each, the omission of playing stunts online is baffling, but Kylotonn must have their reasons.
Visually FlatOut 4 is good. There’s some nice effects with sparks flying from grinding up against other cars, the dust, snow and water spray are also nice touches. Frame rate also seems to hold up well especially when there’s lots going off on screen with cars and debris flying all over. As for the audio, cars do sound a little generic, but what you would expect from an arcade racer with made up vehicles, there’s a heafty soundtrack that features quite a few artists such as Twin Atlantic, Them Evils and more.