STAFF REVIEW of FlatOut 4: Total Insanity (Xbox One)


Monday, May 15, 2017.
by Adam Dileva

FlatOut 4: Total Insanity Box art I used to really enjoy the FlatOut series, especially FlatOut: Ultimate Carnage for Xbox 360, as I’ve spend dozens of hours with its popular Stunt Mode. It’s no secret that since then though, that the series simply hasn’t been the same ever since switching developers with its declining quality and forgettable gameplay, so when FlatOut 4: total Insanity was announced, I was cautiously optimistic, as it’s another new developer, Kylotonn, trying to bring back FlatOut to the masses once again.

Thankfully it seems that Kylotonn has laid some great groundwork at getting the franchise back to where it once was, not surpassing it, but makes an entertaining destruction based racer that also doesn’t forget why many enjoyed the series in the first place with its Stunt Mode. While it doesn’t break any new grounds, it’s a completely adequate return even if it does become repetitive after time.

FlatOut 4’s campaign is broken up into two main sections: Career and FlatOut. Career is very standard, starting with you choosing one of two cars to start your racing profession, both of which aren’t very good stat-wise. There are three classes of cars and events, but you’ll obviously begin with the lowest class and need to make your way up the ranks to earn more money to purchase better vehicles and upgrades.

The three different tiers of cars also house their own set of cups to compete in, for a total of over 2 multi-events to take part in. Ranking in these events are how you unlock new paint jobs, drivers, horns, and more. The first issue you’ll encounter when playing through the campaign is that even if you place well, which you won’t until your car is fully upgraded, is that you don’t earn money quickly, making the campaign almost feel like a grind at times. You’ll be able to max out your car’s stats in a decent amount of time, but saving up for a whole new car, especially in the higher tiers, will take some dedication.


The next thing you’re going to probably notice is how frustrating the difficulty can be, not that there’s a difficulty setting to choose, but how madding it can be for the AI to tap your bumper as you spin out or crash, losing a ton of time when forced to respawn. Some races it seemed I would be left alone for the most part, and others as if I was the only target that the AI tried to make crash. I’ve lost many cups and medal placings because of this.

While the career mode does try and switch things up now and then by throwing some different types of events at you sparingly, the majority of your time will simply be racing, aiming to place high as you can for points for that series. I wish there were more destruction derby events thrown in, or even a handful of the Stunt Mode trials would have been refreshing, but because the racing is what you’ll primarily do, it becomes tedious after a handful of hours.

Even if you do manage to stick with it long enough to grind out enough races to save up for the higher classes, it’s essentially the same setup, but with less rusty and much faster cars. There are over 20 different tracks, some of which are more unique than others (I’m looking at you ice track…) while some are generic racing-through-the-forest for a backdrop.

That being said, the destruction physics are quite entertaining, as you can plow through almost all the obstacle sin your way, complete with sparks and explosions. In fact, that’s how you fill your Nitro meter, along with slamming into your competition. While not anywhere close to breakneck speeds of say Burnout, unleashing a full tank of nitro in the highest tier of vehicle is pretty exhilarating.


FlatOut mode is essentially a secondary career mode, but is more varied than simple standard races, as it offers more unique challenges, like Assault Mode (racing plus weapons) and Arena (varying from Deathmatch, Survivor, and CTF). These series are slightly more entertaining as it’s much more varied and usually centers around more destruction based events, which is always entertaining.

Why many fans flock to the FlatOut series though, like myself, is its popular Stunt Mode. Not only does Total Insanity bring back six classic and re-imagined mini games like High Jump, but also brings us six completely new games to launch your driver through the windshield for points, complete with online leaderboards.

The majority of these events will have you driving down a short ramp with a blockade at the end. You’re tasked with holding the ‘A’ button to get just the right angle and launching your driver through the windshield, complete with ragdoll physics. Depending on what particular event you choose, you’ll be launching your driver into a castle made of blocks for destruction, a golf course, a baseball bat to get a home run, among a handful of others. As far as I know, this is also the first driving game complete with beer pong, so there’s that.

For those that tend to have gatherings of friends locally, you’ll be happy to know there’s an included Hot Seat Mode where players can take turns in the crazy stunt mode. If you want to test your skills, you can even play online with up to 8 people in specific races and events, though after a week of playing and searching, I was only ever able to find a single match online, so I’m not sure if it’s a server issue or simply a very low player base.


The best part about online play is that you can customize your race lobby just how you wish, so if you want the number of laps, damage or even your Nitro gain to be at 200%, you’re welcome to. By default though each race is allowed to be entered by any class, so this can make for some seriously outmatched competition if not double checked. The biggest miss though is that there’s no online play for the game's crown jewel, the Stunt Mode. Sure there are leaderboards, but being able to play online with friends, even if turn based, would have been a game changer, so it’s extremely disappointing to see that it was excluded.

After a half dozen hours in the campaign it simply dawned on me that while FlatOut 4 has its moments, namely in its entertaining, yet offline only Stunt Mode, the campaign itself was simply average. The main problem is that it feels like a grind and there’s no hints at what’s needed to unlock all of the customization items like paint jobs and exhaust flames. FlatOut 4 is completely serviceable game, but there’s a lot of issues with its AI and buggy physics, as I’ve fallen through the world more than once. While it won’t bring the series back to the forefront with its rough edges, it has a decent amount of content within, topped off with a delightful stunt mode that will constantly having you aiming for a higher score, even if it is a solo affair.




Overall: 7.1 / 10
Gameplay: 7.0 / 10
Visuals: 8.0 / 10
Sound: 6.5 / 10

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