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Game Info:

Flatout 4: Total Insanity
Developer: Kylotonn
Published by: Strategy First
Release Date: April 4, 2017
Available on: Windows, PS4, Xbox One
Genre: Racing
Players: 1-12
ESRB Rating: T for Teen, Lyrics, Violence.   
Price: $39.99
(Humble Store Link)

Thanks Strategy First for sending the review code.

Racing games are another one of those genres I can be very picky and in depth about; I apologize for anything that seems a bit too nerdy or long winded in advance. Flatout 4: Total Insanity is a game in a genre that has not seen much life lately. While it has many famous and unique aspects in its franchise it doesn't do much to shake the racing genre. Thankfully this adventure wasn't bad, but it failed to put any sort of smile on my face. The only feeling seemed to be some burns on my stomach. This is Flatout 4: Total Insanity.
 
Flatout 4 is all about racing and car destruction. In Career mode you start by buying a certain type of car then you compete to win money in traditional races, time trials and arena battles. The many cars in Flatout are separated by class, derby, classic and all-star. You unlock new cups by doing well in the previous cup. Every racer has a nitro meter that can only be built up by crashing into the destructible set pieces in the environment or crashing into other racers. Once your car takes enough damage you're out of the race and forced into last place. If others were blown up before you, then you'll be placed above them. The more infamous parts of the Flatout franchise are in Flatout mode. This can go from death matches in arenas, to being faster than a bomb tied to your car. Flatout mode also has the many famous stunt challenges which usually involve ejecting the car's driver to achieve various goals such as landing in beer pong cups or using him to play golf. New challenges can also be accessed by doing well in previous contests. You'll spend most of the in game currency to unlock cars and give them upgrades. You have a quick play mode where you can set up a race type, arena type or stunt type game. However, if you didn't unlock cars in Career mode or the new challenges or maps in other modes, you won't have much to choose from for a quick play map. It seems only all stunt challenges are unlocked from the get go.  In total between the three main game modes you'll have up to 20 different variations to choose from, though the majority of these are from the stunt mode.

Flatout 4: Total Insanity
Highlights:

Strong Points: The Stunt mode is fun and the feel of a demolition style game is captured decently.
Weak Points: The unlockables are not worth one's time. The visuals are boring, progress is boring. Everything gets boring really fast.
Moral Warnings: The game encourages brutal car crashing. The selection of music has explicit lyrics.

The biggest flaw with this game is that it gives me no motivation to unlock anything. Most of the race track and arena maps are slight variations of country roads, mines, sewers and an occasional stadium. Each car only seems to have about five different paint jobs you can choose from. The characters you can unlock are all variations of punk rockers and literal clowns. The characters don't do much except appear in portraits on one side of the HUD during a competition. The various game modes are locked in quick play unless you unlock them in Career or Flatout Mode. Sure, you can set a nitro or damage modifier in quickplay, but that isn't enough to justify locking everything up for a feeling of progression. I might as well just play my preferred modes in Career and Flatout Mode. The soundtrack is nothing to write home about either; it's all forgettable wild rock and roll songs. I ended up putting my own soundtracks on and just turned the music off. Keep in mind while I may be biased towards rock, I feel even I could choose a better list of rock and roll than the game did.
 
The franchise is famous for its wacky physics, yet it doesn't excuse the poor controls the cars have during a race. If you hit a turn wrong or collide into objects you will lose complete control of your car. It's very difficult to recover from a bad crash swiftly during a race. If you're way off track, you can hit a button to be put back on the course, yet it is a slow recover. This adds to the problem of unlocking things. If they wanted to keep wacky physics on high, they should have given the car tighter and less floaty controls. An adjustment to the physics in the race mode might have helped as well. The Arena mode makes slightly better use of the physics, yet you'll want tight controls to maneuver between attacks from other opponents. The only time the physics engine is not a hindrance is in the stunt mode. Don't try to play this game with a keyboard, controllers are a must. Don't expect a lively online multiplayer community either. You will have to rope in a few pals if you want to play with other people.

Flatout 4: Total Insanity
Score Breakdown:
Higher is better
(10/10 is perfect)

Game Score - 60%
Gameplay - 10/20
Graphics - 6/10
Sound - 7/10
Stability - 4/5
Controls - 3/5

Morality Score - 70%
Violence - 6/10
Language - 5/10
Sexual Content - 6/10
Occult/Supernatural - 10/10
Cultural/Moral/Ethical - 8/10

Most of the negative reviews for this game focus around a promise of Steam Workshop support that was never put in and supposed bugs. I was not able to recreate any bugs. However, the other major complaints such as lack of content for initial asking price, poor visuals and the poor physics are all understandable. Put this game under last minute Christmas gift quality. It's ok but it is nothing to write home about. You won't wanna play it for hours on end and it certainly does not do anything for the racing genre.
 
According to general gamer consensus, Flatout 2 is the best in the franchise before it fell off the radar. After playing Flatout 4 I can agree with this wholeheartedly.

The game's violent crashes have a brutal feel to them yet you'll have no blood or dismemberment. You won't have to worry about gory sound effects or screams during explosions either. A decent amount of the soundtrack has explicit lyrics. This game has no other moral problems.
 
Flatout 4 is ok yet it's nothing I'd tell people to race towards. They wanted to capture old arcade style demolition racing games yet all it could do was crash and burn. I don't recommend you fly out of your window for this game. Boost towards more exciting racing titles instead.

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Christ Centered Gamer looks at video games from two view points. We analyze games on a secular level which will break down a game based on its graphics, sound, stability and overall gaming experience. If you’re concerned about the family friendliness of a game, we have a separate moral score which looks at violence, language, sexual content, occult references and other ethical issues.

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