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Monday, 01 May 2017 16:09

Game Review: Flatout 4: Total Insanity


The subtitle in the name says it all really, this iteration of the Flatout series (to be accurate, Flatout: Total Insanity) is a wild ride that is equal amounts frustration and fun.

Those long-term PlayStation owners will remember the Motorstorm series of racing games, and for a big part of your Flatout 4 experience you may relive the feel of that crazy set of games (minus the motorbikes however) as you careen through the mud, slush and other wild environments thrown up in this game.

It’s not quite as polished as those Motorstorm games of the past, but this version of Flatout certainly lives up to its subtitle: the insanity is total.

There are three classes of fictional vehicles to pick from, all with characteristics that can be boosted by customisation of various mechanical parts.

One of the configuration changes you can make is Durability, and for the most part (aside from the solo time trails) this characteristic of your rig will be important to making it to race end.

Because things are nuts!

Playing against artificial intelligence can be maddening, and you need to grind out a lot of races to earn the cash for any new car purchases.

The variety of cars is pretty strong, from clunker dirt-bashers to fifties style utes, muscle cars, vintage limos, open-wheel hot-rods and ice-cream vans. The main difference between the classes is largely how shiny and new they are.

Out on the track, the AI will careen all over the place and make errors that see them crash in spectacular fashion. These computer controlled cars, however, will not back down, they will T-bone you if the opportunity arises, and push you off the road if positioned to do so.

It can mean many restarts of races. Thankfully these are fast, so if you don’t quite nail the start and the ensuing chaos of the first corner, then try again – this is the beauty of video games over real life, remember that kids.

The environments you race through vary from the industrial wastelands, American deserts and a frozen lake and dam to our favourite, the lumber yard.

Each track features different configurations, hidden shortcuts, variable weather and is littered with destructible obstacles. Some less destructible than others, things are quite hard in the lumber yard for instance.

Ramming competitors and track features increases nitro-boost which needs to be judicially applied to win the day.

Modes include time-trials, standard races and assault races. The latter is essentially “Mario Kart” with recharging weapons that ramp the manic chaos up to maximum levels of craziness and frustration. The good news is that even if you get taken out by a competitor's well-timed magnet, chances are you can make your way back into the head of the pack by doing the same to them.

This is pure arcade senseless fun, the physics reflect this, with floaty forgiving steering and collision detection that only punishes the full head-on crashes. It is a little too realistic if you are rear-ended, as this will – just as in real-life – make it impossible to hold your line, which most likely means a press of the reset, or restart button.

There are smash-up-derby events, which can be a lot of fun as you hurtle around an arena balancing the conflicting emotions of aggression and fear towards your competitors.

The Stunt Mode is kind of silly; here there are various games: launch your driver out of the speeding car to either knock over things, or try to land in things. This mode is hard to like and will have you itching to get back to the racing.

Sadly, there is no split-screen couch racing here, which is a real shame because there would be nothing more fun than having a shoulder to bump as on-screen cars duke it out.

There is online multiplayer racing where you can join an existing game easily, or create your own whacky race and unleash the mayhem of Flatout 4: Total Insanity.


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Mike Bantick

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Having failed to grow up Bantick continues to pursue his childish passions for creative writing, interactive entertainment and showing-off through adulthood. In 1994 Bantick began doing radio at Melbourne’s 102.7 3RRRFM, in 1997 transferring to become a core member of the technology show Byte Into It. In 2003 he wrote briefly for the The Age newspaper’s Green Guide, providing video game reviews. In 2004 Bantick wrote the news section of PC GameZone magazine. Since 2006 Bantick has provided gaming and tech lifestyle stories for iTWire.com, including interviews and opinion in the RadioactivIT section.


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