Kylotonn / Big Ben Interactive (studio)
17 March 2017 (released)
27 March 2017
With Burnout having been AWOL for many long years now, there aren’t many games out there to scratch that itch of driving destruction. Does Flatout 4 do enough to fill that void?
To start, the game doesn’t do the best job of laying out its mechanics. This mainly seems to be relegated to the loading screens via hints and tips. This can especially hamper people who have not played Stunt Mode, which could have used a quick clip on how to launch your character, at the least.
As for the core of your time spent in this game, the racing can feel very unbalanced at times. My first attempt at a race was in Quick Play, where I found it impossible to stay out of last place, yet in Career Mode, I had to try to stay out of first place. In a game where much of the joy is had in smashing into your opponents, some rubber-banding, or better yet, some better balance among the cars would have been much appreciated to make the races more enjoyable, but as it is, it doesn’t feel all that different from when you’re playing any other racer, save for being able to destroy fences. It’s not helped much by the driving physics. In a game where contact is expected, it sucks to be suddenly barrel rolled or turned backwards, and it only detracts from any fun I’m having trying to wreck my adversaries.
Thankfully, racing isn’t the only way this game allows you to get your kicks. While Career Mode is pretty cut and dry in terms of its offerings, Flatout Mode contains plenty of ways for you to get your kicks. Whether it’s causing mayhem out on the track, or smashing up your opponents in the arena, or even performing crazy stunts, you won’t be bored very quickly in this mode. What makes it more relaxing is that you’re not forced to grab the gold in each race at first; it’s more about your cumulative score building up to unlock more and more contests for you to drive in. My main issue with this mode stems from the inability to unlock cars or custom parts for Quick Play, which can leave you at a disadvantage in that mode due to the imbalance with the AI.
The game also isn’t really anything special to look at. While the UI is the familiar yellow and black motif that fans will be familiar with (and that’s fine) the graphics are pretty dull, and make the game look dated, almost like it belongs on the last generation of consoles. The typical sepia tones and dull, muted colours (outside of some stunts) speak of a game and design that fell out of fashion some time ago, and for a game that is all about the fun and goofiness of flinging your opponents (or yourself) out of their cars, it feels too much in contrast. This is a key department where the series needs to do some rethinking, and soon.
Overall, this game is a fun time. It’s got its issues, but they don’t cripple the entire game. However, I couldn’t recommend the game at its full price of £45. If, however, you spy the game at a discounted price, and fancy some driving action that isn’t about the realism all the time, then Flatout 4 is not your worst option.
It’s better than Driveclub, anyway.
++ Return to form for series
++ Flatout Mode is good fun
+- Stunts can vary in quality
- Career Mode is bland
- Lack of AI balancing
-- Wonky driving physics