Flatout 4: Total Insanity is a redemption story for the Flatout franchise. The 3rd game in the series was almost universally reviled, putting what many believed to be the nail in the coffin of the arcade destructive racer. But Strategy First had different designs. They’ve brought back the franchise, and in almost all regards Flatout 4 is a return to form for the series. The downside is that it doesn’t do much to push things forward, and could be considered “a game out of time”. This is our Flatout 4 review.
I grew up loving the racers Cruisin’ USA, Mario Kart, and Twisted Metal. Flatout 4 is kind of an homage to all three. It’s an arcade racer at heart, and it doesn’t really try to be more than that. There are some mini-games that can be amusing (like Beer Pong with your cars for example), but the core premise for single player will be the career mode. Sadly, it’s a bit humdrum. Three tiers, faster and shinier cars in each successive tier, and the varied courses throughout. It’s the same stuff we’ve been doing in arcade racers for years and sadly lacks any real imagination. Combined with the inconsistent and often downright easy AI, it makes getting through all of the career modes and unlocking the cars for other modes rather a grind.
Graphically, Flatout 4 is behind the times a bit, but at 4K and highest settings on my PC, its lighting certainly passes the mark. It’s more the terrain and the early cars themselves which need work. I get that you’re supposed to earn the better-looking vehicles, but spending the greater part of your early game in a rusted out junker is just kind of defeating. Especially when you often see the AI driving much nicer looking rigs than you.
Performance on PC seemed relatively reliable minus the occasional stutter, even at 4K. Given the sheer amount of on-track destruction, it’s admirable for sure. But then when things slow down and you see how little detail or resolution there is on said objects, it makes more sense. That’s the trick developer Kylotonn has managed – the game looks pretty enough, so long as you’re moving fast and not paying attention to the finer details. Heck, even the Indie Rock soundtrack is pretty decent, though I didn’t know a song on the list.
Final Flatout 4 Review Thoughts
Overall, Flatout 4 is an admirable resurrection of a franchise once considered on par with Burnout. Thing is, that sort of game has become passe in the age of realism, and it’s unlikely that Flatout 4 is going to bring it back to the forefront of racing games. Still, if like me, you miss these sort of non-serious racing and crashing extravaganzas, you’re not likely going to be disappointed in Flatout 4. It’s a bit of a dinosaur, sure – but I wouldn’t turn away a Stegosaur if I saw one either.