The tag line for FlatOut 4 is very fitting. Obviously, Total Insanity wants you to think that there will be non stop action and crazy racing, which is true to a point. FlatOut 4 does feature some crazy races and modes that allow you to race and smash your way through tons of levels. But there comes a point when specific features drive you to the point of insanity. FlatOut 4 gets pretty close to this with some frustrating gameplay elements that take away from the overall enjoyment of the game.
One of the first things that stood out to me is the amount of content that is FlatOut 4. FlatOut 4 features some standard modes that you would see in a typical racing game. Career Mode lets you play in three different series – derby, classic, and all star. Each mode has different cars that are available to race and customize. Like any good racing game, upgrading your car and buying new ones requires cash, so expect to play a lot to make enough money. This can take a lot of time because cars that are purchased for different series can be used for other ones. For example, your Derby car will not work in the classic series. You must purchase classic series cars to race in that series, and that is the same for the all star series. There are 27 total cars to purchase and upgrade (you can see some of the customization options in the slide show below).
As I played through Career Mode, I found some big issues that prevented me from truly enjoying the main part to the game. For starters, the AI is extremely tough and the environments are unforgiving. Now keep in mind that this game is not about playing fair. You are supposed to bump your opponents and cause mayhem. However, there comes a point where the AI can be truly unfair. It is way too easy to go from 1st to worse because of a small nudge to your bumper. Along with the AI, the environment does not do you any favors. One bump against the wall or one bounce from the uneven roads will send you flying all over the place…or send you right in front of the AI who is more than happy to sideswipe you. Luckily, there are several routes you can take during a race, and the NOS will help you boost your way past some sticky situations. But overall, the AI makes grinding really difficult. The grind is very real in this game, especially if you want to unlock all vehicles, tracks and customizations. There are 20 well made tracks, so you do want to unlock them. However, expect race after frustrating race in order to unlock it all.
For those of you who are looking for a more nontraditional route, you will definitely enjoy the FlatOut mode and Stunt mode. FlatOut mode gives you 42 different types of races to complete. These races include a variety of stunts as well as modes that provide some insane derby action. You have assault modes that allow you to use power ups and modes where you have to beat the bomb or be the last man standing. The powerups are always with you, but need recharging after each use. Some quickly recharge and the more devastating powerups need more time to recharge. You need to use them wisely because, again, the AI will show no mercy and knock you out real quick.
The Stunt Mode is really fun except for a few minor gameplay quirks. In stunt mode, you can play a lot of quick games which is perfect for playing with friends. You can play golf, bowling, billiards, beer pong, ring of fire, soccer, baseball, and throw your driver through obstacles. You can even play curling. The tricky part comes with launching your driver through flaming hoops or into cups in beer pong. The timing that is needed when you hold and release the eject button can be tricky. It’s not impossible, but it definitely took some retries to get it right. When I got the timing down, it made some the stunts really enjoyable.
I wish I had more time with the online multiplayer, but to be honest, I did not find players to play with. Perhaps it is because the game is newer and not many people have purchased it yet. I did play a lot of couch co-op which is really fun. Maybe I’m strange, but I find it less frustrating if I play with other people than the AI in FlatOut 4. Even if my friends team up on me and screw me over with power ups, I still find it more amusing than dealing with the AI.
Graphically, I was pretty impressed with FlatOut 4. There is a lot of good detail, especially as you hit obstacles and other cars. The environments are destructible, so you can see a lot of details as things break apart and fly all over the track. The character animations are fine. But they are only seen in some areas of the game, so I’m glad the detail went into the cars and environments. The sound track was pretty enjoyable. If you like rock, then there are a few good songs to enjoy as you race and wreck opponents.
FlatOut 4 can be enjoyable in some cases. The FlatOut and Stunt mode are very enjoyable, especially with friends. However, the AI is way too unforgiving. Which is a shame because you need to place high in order to make the money necessary to unlock everything. I understand that there should be some kind of grind in order to unlock everything. But at the same time, you don’t want to force your players to log off because of frustration. I think a patch could definitely help in this area. I would love to see more ways to make money so you can customize your car to your hearts content. Besides these frustrating aspects, I did find some enjoyment out of FlatOut. There is a lot for you to do, so I think the price point is good for what you are getting.
FlatOut 4 is available digitally and at your local retailer for $49.99.
Note: GameOctane Editor Ryan Welch received a physical copy for the purpose of reviewing this game. Any code or product intended for reviews is distributed to the team to review and stream for our audience.
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Lots to do with Career, FlatOut, and Stunt Mode
Enjoyable tracks with different ways to race them
Stunt mode is very enjoyable
Great to play with friends
Can go from 1st to worst way too quickly
Too much grinding to unlock everything