It’s a testament to the team at Kylotonn that FlatOut 4 is even here. That’s how bad FlatOut 3 was. I’m talking legendarily bad, but Kylotonn is new to the series and should be commended for breathing life into a series that, by all rights, should probably be dead. I can almost imagine the rallying cry at Kylotonn: All right, gang, there’s no way we can screw this up worse than the last one, so let’s do this thing! That’s probably not how it went down, but the good news is, FlatOut 4: Total Insanity is not as bad as FlatOut 3.
Once popping in the disc, I went straight to the career mode, which is broken into 3 tiers: You start out with the derby mode, which is a bunch of rusted out classics. In what turned out to be a precursor of things to come, you can only choose between two cars at the outset. This lack of options would soon become a theme, but at the time, all seemed cool and I was anxious to get behind the wheel. I spent 8,000 of my 10,000 budget on a rusty VW Beetle, spent the last 2 grand on upgrades and got to racing.
Obviously, FlatOut 4 is an arcade style racer and not a driving simulator, and it tackles this job fairly well. The sense of speed when you hit the nos feels satisfyingly intense, and the collisions are aplenty and unavoidable. Those first few tracks look pretty, have a ton of old buildings and haystacks to plow through, and they do a good job of offering you multiple shortcuts, which came in handy to avoid the ultra-aggressive AI. It is a FlatOut title, so the other cars trying to kill you is a give in, but the ease at which they seem to be able to spin you out did get a bit frustrating. Also, the soundtrack does a good job of bringing back that old-school racing feel from the last few generations, simply swapping out the Nu-metal and rap metal from my youth with some decent, yet fairly obscure alternative rock.
So to recap, the over-the-top arcade handling feels good, those first few tracks impress and the music feels just right, and yet the career mode still managed to lose me. The problem was you can’t miss that the subsequent tracks quickly begin to rehash many of the same sections and it takes forever to unlock new cars. Worse than that, the game does little to explain how to unlock the many locked cars that just set there, grayed out, teasing me. When I saved up my winnings to buy a car in the next tier, you can imagine my disappointment when the track familiarity remained, and the car seemed to be little more than a slightly faster, less rusty version of the first. In what felt like an effort to stretch out the career mode, they made the payouts stingy and the extra cars hard to obtain, but there just isn’t enough original tracks or fun to be had to justify the grind.
There is also an over-the-top stunt mode which retains a lot of the heart from the original FlatOut title. The rag-doll physics-based gameplay is obviously showing its age, but playing beer pong or miniature golf with your own flailing (dead?) body can be fun in short bursts. The crash ‘em up derby races was never my thing, but if you liked that mode from the first two, you will probably like the version here.
In the end, FlatOut 4 is a huge improvement over its predecessor. It looks good, the racing is fun and I dug the soundtrack, but I just can’t ignore that some of the gears are still slipping, and that funny knocking noise ain’t gonna fix itself.
FlatOut 4: Total Insanity PS4 Review
- Overall - Good - 6.0/106.0/10
FlatOut 4 is an over-the-top racer that's got the potential to entertain. However, the stingy payouts and an unrewarding unlock/progression system flattens a few tyres and holds back this decent game from being a great one.
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