Developer: Kylotonn, Tiny Rebel Games
Publisher: BigBen Interactive
Platform: Xbox One, PS4
Tested on: Xbox One
FlatOut 4: Total Insanity – Review
We all know that videogames often don’t make sense when it comes to their numbering, as FlatOut 4: Total Insanity is actually already the eighth game in the series. Nonetheless, after getting many realistic racing games as of late, we often think back to the days when series such as Burnout or one trick ponies such as Split/Second, Blur and Vigilante 8 were considered top titles in the racing/vehicular combat genre. Finally we have something hectic to look forward to, namely FlatOut 4: Total Insanity, which is indeed borderline crazy in terms of gameplay. Suit up, for an extremely bumpy, yet thrilling, ride.
The plot is just as thick as you’d expect it to be for a game such as the last iteration of Mario Kart, which means there is absolutely no story to be found in FlatOut 4. Do you really need one? Not really, as it’s all about racing and reducing your opponents’ car to the size of a tin can, after propelling the driver through their windshield. We doubt you’re buying this, hoping for an elaborate plot that involves broken-down cars which crash and bash into one another.
Graphically FlatOut 4 seems to be stuck between the top notch games of the previous generation and some of the early release games of the current one. The game looks rather vibrant and the tracks are filled with clutter for you to crash into, or completely demolish. All starting cars have a very dated and damaged look, and they will only deteriorate the further a race progresses. The further you progress in the game, the more polished and combat ready cars will start to unlock, but it’ll take a while for you to actually notice a bit of diversity. Overall the game proves to be extremely appealing, and you will hardly have any time to notice the somewhat rough edges of this title.
Even though the list of cars is quite short in terms of design and variety, the tracks differ more than enough to provide you with enough to look at during your first few gaming sessions. The game itself has a ‘fifties’ vibe surrounding it, which makes the high paced vehicular combat even more attractive.
Not only did we miss rather classic games such as this, we also longed back to the days when actual upbeat music was used during races, rather than some generic tune that feels like accelerated lift music. You’ll be treated to a nineties – early 2000 – kind of rock soundtrack, that certainly helps you floor the pedal, and destroy everything in sight. The soundtrack of the game is simply superb.
FlatOut 4: Total Insanity is a mix between racing and vehicular combat, on clutter-filled tracks, which means that the other cars are only half of your worries. While there are a few other modes to explore, it’s all about reaching the finish line first or being the last man standing, while dishing out damage to the environment and your opponents.
You’ll be presented with a set of different racing options, be it in the career, quick play or Flatout modes. You’ll be able to choose from normal races, where you’ll have to reach the finish line first, or races in which weapons are allowed. Other than that there’s the arena option, where you will have to be the last man standing, and if you truly want to go overboard, there’s the stunt segment, in which you’ll have to catapult the driver outside of your car in order to propel him against objects, reach a certain height etc. This last one feels a bit random, but a fun contribution to the game nonetheless. The Flatout mode does incorporate variations of the existing options, where you’ll simply have to score enough points during a race, reach checkpoints within a specific timeframe and so on. Truth be told, the game has enough variety to remain interesting for quite some time, but some may be bothered by the fact that the career mode unlocks rather slowly if you’re not a great driver.
The game’s cars are divided into three tiers, which also represent the difficulty level of the races you’ll find yourself in. The first class are the ‘Derby’ cars, which are completely broken down vehicles, all dented and rusty. The Classic cars are a bit more standardized cars, which still have their shiny paint coatings intact. The Allstar class takes things up a notch or two, by adding some more offensive equipment to the chassis.
Just like many classic games in the genre, the difficulty level is quite high, or at least it has its extreme spikes where you go from a fairly manageable set of races to those in which it’s nearly impossible to bring home one of the medals. Nonetheless, the difficulty is not solely because of the hard tracks or the competence level of your fellow drivers, it’s mainly due to the fact that when enemy drivers hit you, you get thrown off the track as if you were only a small grain of sand in the midst of a sandstorm. It’s the complete opposite when you ram them, even when using your nitro, it’s like hitting a brick wall, and you often just end up boosting your opponent while slowing down yourself.
There’s two things that drag down this otherwise fast paced title more than you’d like, namely the excruciatingly painful loading times, which truly hamper the fluent experience and the ‘recovery’ button, which sets your car back on the track, in case you’re thrown off the track, simply went too far off-road, or accidently got turned around in the wrong direction. More than often the button doesn’t really respond, forcing you to press it until it finally does what it’s supposed to.
As expected FlatOut 4 comes with multiplayer features, but sadly solely online, which is a downright shame, as games like this are the most fun to play together in the couch, be it with two to four players. Overall this feels like the biggest missed opportunity for this game.
FlatOut 4: Total Insanity is one of those good old fashioned games where it’s all about the gameplay, and all the rest is put in the second place. You’ll be treated to some authentic racing/vehicular combat, which you can easily enjoy without having to stress your brain or simply to unwind after a busy day. If you loved games such as Burnout, Blur, Motorstorm or even Mario Kart, this one is right up your pitstop.