FlatOut 4: Total Insanity Review
Arcade racers full of smashing and crashing may have taken a back seat to sim-based titles as of late, but Kylotonn Games and Strategy First are bringing them back with FlatOut 4: Total Insanity. Should you hit the nitro, or is this racer a lemon?
FlatOut 4: Total Insanity Review
Players new to the FlatOut series of games need not worry, as they’ll be on the road in no time flat with Total Insanity’s Career Mode. After picking a vehicle, players choose from different cups that are made up of a series of races. Each race nets you points, and the three racers with the highest amount of points moves on to the next cup. It’s a fairly straightforward structure, and the ability to buy faster cars for new races and upgrade your current ride with cash obtained offers incentive to continue. However, the grind is definitely real. Players will see the same 20 tracks multiple times between the three racing classes, and traversing the same area multiple times in similar cups gets somewhat repetitive. There is some variety with branching paths, but more tracks would be ideal.
To break things up, there are a number of smaller attractions that players can enjoy. Survival mode is a destruction derby free-for-all that sees who can survive the longest. These matches never last very long, as everybody tends to pile up and destroy each other in the first 20 seconds. There are also Time Trials, which task players with the fastest lap around a particular track. There’s no other racers or nitro available – it’s just you and the road. Rounding out things is Assault mode, which gives Mario Kart-like power-ups like shockwaves and explosive balls. Unfortunately, it can feel a bit more cumbersome than Nintendo’s offering, as it requires holding down a button to choose your weapon from a grid.
There is a lot more variety to be had in Total Insanity’s FlatOut mode. In it, players take on challenges to earn points that unlock more challenges. The Deathmatch destruction derby offering is there, but also included is the Stunt mode (which has you flinging your racer out of his car to cause damage), Beat the Bomb (which has players racing from checkpoint to checkpoint to add time to the clock), and Keep the Flag (which has players fending off racers to keep a flag). However, the real star of the show is Carnage mode, which has players accumulating points gained by crashing into the environment and other racers. It’s addicting, and the multipliers you can accumulate add some skill to the proceedings. Though the mode is available in Quick Race mode, the fact that it’s designed more as a side mode is disheartening.
So how do races play out in Total Insanity? Destruction and speed are the name of the game here. The nitro meter is filled by bumping into other racers and scenery, which encourages players to drive offensively. Every racer (including yourself) has a health meter, which can permanently take racers out of the running. Crashing into an opponent at high speed can be thrilling, but impacts never feel as satisfying as those found in Crtierion’s Burnout series. In addition, the objects you can and cannot crash into are not clearly defined by the game. A telephone pole might be ripe for destruction, but a tree will cause you to crash and burn. This makes things somewhat frustrating, as it rewards rote memorization over split-second reflexes.
The handling of each car is a lot heavier than other racers. These things are wrecking machines, and handle like a ton of bricks. Despite this, the faster classes and upgrades make the game lightning fast. Braking and proper nitro management are both required, but the aggressive AI will make sure you become familiar with the “position reset” button.
Sadly, there is no split-screen multiplayer in this title. Though there is an online mode, this feels like a hugely wasted opportunity, especially when considering how similar racers from ages ago had the option available.
FlatOut 4: Total Insanity is what you make out of it. Though its Career mode drags on, the game has a number of different options that are sure to appeal to almost any kind of gamer. It’s not the most polished or refined racer on the market today, but its raw thrills will resonate with old-school gearheads yearning for days gone by.