Drive! Destroy! Drive more!
Flatout 4: Total Insanity is actually a pretty accurate title for game where you commit the most insane vehicular carnage I have seen in a very long time. So during the week of GDC I had a chance to play a demo for Flatout 4, I have not played a Flatout game for a long time so I was curious to see what the game looked like. Racing games are not my forte, however I do like racing games that are more outlandish, such as Mario Kart and Burnout. Flatout 4 is a game that is having fun with itself and knows how crazy it is, and that is great. Now my time with the game wasn’t very long due to the even’t scheduling, but I did pick up a good amount of information during my brief hands-on experience with the game .
Let’s start with basics, Flatout 4: Total Insanity is a racing game where the goal is to get to the finish line a quickly as you can. Now the intro of this article might have you believe that it is nothing but bombastic destruction, but that isn’t necessarily the case. If you’ve played other racing games those skills will certainly translate into this game. There is still a sense of finesse and mechanics when it comes to driving, you can’t just be reckless 100% of the time. There is a mode you can play where there arenot any weapons, so you can focus on just driving well. However, there’s a mechanic where your boost is affected by how much collateral damage you can cause, so there is this balancing act of driving well but also causing some damage to the environment so that you may get a speed boost, adding a strategic element to the game. The driving physics feel very weighty and balanced, overall very comfortable and not jarring.
Driving well isn’t the only thing that will help you win in FlatOut 4: Total Insanity. You can also destroy the crap out of your opponents. During the race you have an access to 4 weapons, all with cooldowns exclusive to them. The weapons have strategy because not only do they have their own effects, but you can choose the direction they fire or land. Like I said before, there is a cooldown so you cannot spam these moves, you must strategically fire these at the appropriate moment. The real difficulty of the game is balancing these weapons and sense of destruction with the driving mechanics mentioned earlier. Driving well while trying to hit objects and not spin out, using weapons on enemies, and managing the boost resource makes this a racing game that require your attention. Not to say it is boring, because when you can manage all the elements the game becomes an explosive time. Pun totally intended.
Every race is like an insane motor vehicle fever dream. The emphasis on destruction means that there will always been spectacle at every stage of the race. It’s been a long time since I’ve played a rave game that wasn’t a glorified driving simulator and I enjoyed my time. Every time I was able to hit a vehicle with a weapon or able to ram into enough objects to gain enough for my speed boost gauge was incredibly satisfying. Other than your standard racing affair, there is also a game mode where the goal is to gain points by doing tricks or achieve a weird task. For example, I played a mini-game where I had to launch the driver out of my car by going off a ramp, and land into a large cup. It was silly, but I absolutely adored it. That’s the big aspect for me, the gameplay is inherently over-the-top, but the game embraces its madness to great effect.
Unfortunately, I only had enough time to play one one racing map. However, there will a variety of maps when FlatOut 4: Total Insanity launches on the Xbox One and PlayStation 4 this spring. The terrain of the map was a sort of desert small mining town, and for most part it looked decent. The map is about what you’d expect from a racing game, but you’ll find there is a surprising amount of detail in the game’s destructible environments. While the maps may be average, the real spectacle is with the all the effects going on at any given time in the race. Weapons, speed, and objects blowing all up at once make the screen an anarchic scene, and while this is cool it did bring up a concern. With all the visual elements going on at any given time, the game’s performance did take a hit when the action was at its heaviest, causing some dropped frames. Now, it’s worth nothing that this was a demo build and not final code, so I hope that the final game will provide a more consistent framerate, but from what my eyes observed the game didn’t look to be a solid 60fps half the time. Other than that, the visuals are solid and there’s always plenty going on on-screen.
Overall, the Flatout 4: Total Insanity was a fun experience, and a bombastic time. While the game’s nagging framerate issues cause some concern, the other aspects of the game lay a solid foundation that should please fans of the arcade racing game genre. And if those slight kinks are ironed out, it looks like FlatOut 4: Total Insanity could be a super fun time when it releases in April of this year. For more info as it comes out please keep checking back here at Hey Poor Player.