FlatOut 4: Total Insanity

Game review by
Paul Semel, Common Sense Media
FlatOut 4: Total Insanity Game Poster Image
Entertaining, flawed, cartoonishly violent arcade racer.

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this game.

Positive Messages

Players have to win by any means necessary.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Only those who drive fast, without regard for others, will win.

Ease of Play

Controls will be familiar to race fans, easy to pick up for novices, though play is sometimes tough.

Violence

Cars are demolished in fiery crashes, explosions; players can send driver flying through windshield when they crash, but it's all rather cartoony, with no blood, gore, dismemberment. 

Sex

Soundtrack includes songs with sexually suggestive lyrics.

Language

Song lyrics include "bulls--t." Online modes aren't moderated. 

Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that FlatOut 4: Total Insanity is an arcade racing game with a cartoonishly violent twist. When you crash, and you will, you can hit a button to send the driver flying through the windshield. You can also knock cars off the road or hit them with bombs, causing them to explode. But while this imagery may be disturbing, it can also be rather cartoony, and there's no blood or gore; the flying bodies might as well be rag dolls. Your driver also doesn't yell any obscenities in midflight, though some of the songs on the soundtrack have iffy language ("bulls--t") and sexually suggestive lyrics.

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What's it about?

Rather than a story, the career mode in FLATOUT 4: TOTAL INSANITY is just a succession of increasingly difficult race events designed to test your driving skills -- well, to a certain extent. This is arcade-style racing, not a driving simulation, so it's less a true test of your driving ability as it is your skill at just driving fast while avoiding hazards and explosives. 

Is it any good?

Though not for serious gearheads, this arcade-style racer will appeal to fans of this series and those looking for an over-the-top Sunday drive ... for a while. In FlatOut 4: Total Insanity, players have to drive twisty and hazardous tracks with multiple pathways. But instead of driving sports cars on city streets or precision motor vehicles on closed tracks, this has you driving junkers around a petrochemical plant, through a logging camp, and on some dusty desert trails. You're also encouraged to try to knock out your opponents by crashing into them, which you can also do in the game's demolition derby mode.

What sets this apart is that when you crash, you can hit a button to send your driver flying through the windshield like a rag doll. During races, this merely works as comedy. Or maybe tragedy. But the game also includes events, played solo or with friends, where you use the ejector seat to do stunts for style points. But like so much in this game, these events get a bit mundane after a while. There also are race events where the cars come equipped with weapons, but since they're not earned, recharge rather quickly, and are overpowered, they make this mode more of a mess than a challenge. Add in some wonky physics and a bunch of technical problems that sometimes slow the action to a crawl, and you'll understand why FlatOut 4: Total Insanity is also partially frustrating.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about driving safely and at the speed limit. What does this game show you about the importance of following the speed limits and rules of the road?

  • Families also can talk about realism vs. fantasy. Does it make you feel any differently that you're blowing up cars with human drivers as opposed to cartoon gorillas like in Mario Kart?

Game details

Themes & Topics

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For kids who love racing

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