Heavy metal bake sale.
Flatout is one of those games that sits on my list of games I never expected to see another sequel; and that was after the second one. Yet, here we are, reviewing the fourth game in the series. Once again Bugbear Interactive (the team behind the original) is not behind the wheel, and the results are what I have come to expect. The heart of the series died when they left development, and Flatout 4 tries desperately to rekindle that magic. Sadly, there just isn’t enough here to elevate this game above the label of mediocre.
The only reason the Flatout series ever held any weight in the gaming world was because of its wacky physics-based tossing of drivers in the mini games. Flatout 4 brings that back, and some of them are genuinely a good time, but it fails to expand on the idea. A lot of the same events return and it just doesn’t have the same impact.
Platforms: XB1 (reviewed), PS4, PC
Price I’d Pay: $19.99
The career mode tasks players with racing through series of events on the same handful of tracks. While they are not bad in design, there are so few of them, that after one or two races it feels monotonous. With a game featuring massive destruction and junker cars one would think more variety would come naturally. Sadly, these tracks wear out their welcome quickly. It also doesn’t help that laps are ridiculously long and tedious.
Arcade racers have always been known for more exaggerated racing physics. Flatout 4 features heavy cars that fishtail around corners. They have weight to them and it shows. Slamming into opponents feels good, and when I slammed through a barn door at 100 mph, it felt impactful. The weird physics do lead to some odd encounters though. For example, slamming through fences is fine, but when my car flips after driving over a small cone, it becomes a problem. The AI is also super aggressive, and one quick tap on the backend of my car sends me into an uncontrollable spin.
Career mode races earn players money which can be spent on new vehicles and upgrades. Each circuit features a few different race types, but nothing out of the standard fare. Progression is good, but the game just runs out of gas so quickly. Races are far too long and none of the tracks really do anything to make me want to come back. The game just feels like generic racer number five with the Flatout name slapped on it. Arcade racers have come a long way since the series inception, and this entry just doesn’t make the cut.
The game does attempt to inject some personality with characters, but they are never explained or featured. Instead, they are just faces on the screen during races. My player character also has a model, but is completely non customizable in any facet. It seems like there were more ideas (and hopefully tracks) on the table, but time simply ran out.
Flatout 4 feels like a game destined to reinvigorate the franchise and just ran out of steam. I am a massive fan of the original game and its sequel, and while this is light years beyond the abomination that was the third game, it still falls short. More tracks, more variety, and some much needed polish would have gone a long way in bringing back this cult classic. As it stands though, arcade racers still sit dormant in today’s gaming landscape.
Review copy of game provided by publisher.