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Flashout 3 – Review

It must be difficult being a futuristic racing game. Wipeout, F Zero, GRiP and Redout have pretty much cornered the market. With enough personality and a few tricks up your sleeve can do wonderful things though and that’s what Flashout 3 is hoping for. The middle to budget tier racer aims to pack a punch by going about futurist racing a little differently but it has one design decision that will make or break your opinion on it.

Flashout 3 is as much a bullet hell game as it is a racer.

Each track has twists and turns as you try to eliminate as many opponents as possible.

When taking to the track (ten of them, doubled up with reverse options) you’ll find everything quite normal for the first eight seconds. Accelerate, turn and like many airship racers tight turns can be made with airbrakes. The controls work quite nicely and whilst the tracks won’t win awards for originality, they each have a style and feel that make them drive differently. Then after eight seconds all your weapons are unlocked and its absolute bedlam.

Each ship is equipped with three weapons with quick recharge abilities and little cooldown. When you aren’t firing missiles you can shoot with a gun, drop a mine, get a machine gun or flare firing or if you want to just speed boost clear. The problem is that all seven other racers all have three weapons too. Like Arnie himself in The Terminator – they will not stop until you are dead. Flashout 3 is so combative that sometimes it pays to not try to race properly and time when you attack others to kill them off and then get to the front of the pack for the finish line before they pick you off. Rarely does anyone escape the pack and if you do, catch every boost pad you can as the AI rubberband back up again if you don’t. In someways I’m reminded of Onrush. That was a racing game where you didn’t race at all – you attacked each other in a swarm and hoped to come out on top at the end. Onrush did that by design. Flashout 3 is doing the same thing whilst saying its a racing game too. I’m not entirely sure I bought it.

Spot the retrowave look. The game runs fluidly and stably despite all the carnage which is impressive.

Racing became a bit frustrating as no sooner as you get out front you are just pummelled to death and respawn at the back again. As ship classes make the entire speed of the game increase, this gets more frustrating as you can’t airbrake and fire everything nearly as well as your AI friends can. On the fastest modes and on the tightest circuits, you need skill to drive but frankly you won’t survive if you do so it pays to be sloppy until the last lap. Races are always weapon fuelled and so are elimination and damage events (most kills wins). Only solitary time trial mode gives you driving peace and that’s just a single event once every 8 or so races in campaign mode.

Having said all that, if you aren’t put off by the bullet hell nature of Flashout 3 – there are some things to be impressed with. This game runs a dream on my PC even in 2 player split screen mode. Considering the amount of explosions and chaos on screen – that’s no easy feat! I also really like the way how ships are balanced. Each one has speed, steering, durability and energy stats. Energy is how much your weapons cost so if you want more powerful weapons, it’ll usually mean your ship is deficient in one of the other three areas. You also have to spent your energy on your loadout too so if you want the special autogun, that’ll cost more than one you have to aim and fire with. There’s a mixture of attack and buff weapons but attack wins every time. I’d also like to applaud the bombastic and very loud 90’s club soundtrack. Turn up the volume with the speed and it does get you in the mood for some chaotic racing.

Some tracks have full 360 degree tunnels or 180 flips which spice things up!

Flashout 3 is marmite. I really struggled with it not allowing me to just race. I feel like if the weapons spamming could be turned down a good 50%, the score given to this game would boost 2 points instantly. If you don’t mind that gun and respawn dynamic though, you’ll get much more out of Flashout 3 than I did personally. Regardless, its great to see a different name out there in the futuristic racing genre. I was unable to test VR with this title as I don’t own VR on PC.

Review copy provided by developer.

Flashout 3
Final Thoughts
I struggled with its bullet hell stop/start nature but if you enjoy that style of racing, this is a decent title to try out.
Runs smoothly and full speed.
Interesting ship balancing mechanics allow you to customise loadouts and ship stats.
Pumping soundtrack.
2 player split screen works a treat.
Too many weapons, too powerful when used and able to be used too often.
Stop/start nature is so aggressively bullet hell that racing felt a distant second to just firing weapons at all times.
Winning often didn't feel earned - it felt more luck of the draw.
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