Flashout 3 Review - More Substance Needed With the Style
Wipeout, a game initially released in 1995 on the PlayStation 1, had a cult-like following that spawned many sequels and clones. Some of those sequels and clones have conjured memories of the past, while some struggled to deliver anything close to what the fans of the original Wipeout provided. Now, developer Jujubee is looking to deliver an experience that resembles Wipeout and F-Zero, but also one that builds on the two previous iterations of the game already in their library. Flashout 3 is a game that wants to incorporate futuristic ships loaded with weaponry, mind-numbing speed, and venues and tacks that will twist you, turn you, and exhaust you with a race style that requires absolute focus and quick hands. Does Flashout 3 deliver on all fronts? Well, let’s chat about that in my Flashout 3 review.
Flashout 3 Review
What I Like
When I first fired up Flashout 3, it was about making myself comfortable with the controls, ships, attributes, and tracks. The controls took me a bit to get used to because at first they felt rigid and stiff. The games offered the ability to jump into a tutorial, exhibition race, or campaign. I took on the tutorial and decided it was time to try an exhibition race.
Once the race had launched, it was evident the gameplay was more than just about finishing first. There was an actual strategy required. There are variations of ships, with each ship offering up enhanced abilities that can either play into your strategy for the race or work against them, so choose wisely. The options range from stronger attack guns to more agile and faster ships or ships with a more robust defense system.
The game also allows you to unlock upgrades through various accomplishments and can be done so by racing in any of the current modes offered. Unlock a better shield in an exhibition race and that same shield can be used in campaign mode.
Once on the track, the AI competitors are relentless, and regardless of how strong your ship is, it will eventually be taken down. Keeping that in mind, this is where my race strategy came into play. Do I use a regeneration shield as soon as it becomes available, or hold onto it much like you would certain items in Mario Kart to then pop it at the perfect moment.
The same goes for your arsenal of weaponry. While your weapons will regenerate, it takes time, and I chose to utilize my weapons at specific times rather than just trying to blast anything and everything into oblivion.
Even running the perfect race strategy and navigating the twisting race course as well as I could didn’t guarantee me a win. The AI is intelligent and calculating and raced me very much as a human opponent would. The AI racers would even use obstacles on the track to protect themselves from my incoming barrage of attacks.
The sense of speed on the track is real, so real at times it is almost mesmerizing. In terms of graphics, the tracks and the celestial surroundings complement that sense of speed exceptionally well. Not everything felt great on the track at first, and it required different approaches, and the use of varying ship capabilities, to smoothly work my way around each course and past each opponent.
Regardless, the racing provides a solid experience on the track if you’re willing to learn the functionality of each ship and the controls that coincide with them.
Now This Is Pod Racing
The game offers a tremendous number of variables, both in terms of ship upgrades, tracks, and venues. This kept the game fresh, and I often found myself looking beyond the track at the world that Jujubee had created, which is not a racing strategy I suggest.
While the ships are impressively detailed, and the effects positively impact the experience, the worlds created in Flashout 3 are what really allow for such a visual fiesta. Each venue delivers a different world with new and vibrant details that create an immersive reality for us to play in.
I joked earlier about constantly being distracted by the living vibrancy of the different locals, and while it was a joke, there is a level of truth in that statement. What matters here is that not only does Flashout 3 offer a decent level of fun on the track, but it also delivers an exceptional level of visual fidelity to coincide with the gameplay.
Upgrade System And Ship Design
As I mentioned before, both the upgrade system and ships within Flashout 3 are very well done. While the upgrade system doesn’t significantly sway the chances of winning and losing, it can be the difference in finishing on the podium or not. The deeper you progress in Flashout, the more items you unlock to adhere to your ship. Those items include many enhancements, including stronger rockets, protective and destructive drones, shield upgrades, and more.
I found myself playing around with a combination of many of these. For another added level of strategy, specific ships and vehicle combinations work better at certain tracks, so again, choose wisely and try them all.
This extra level of strategy that comes into play adds a level of depth that wouldn’t usually be there, and for Flashout 3 that’s a very good thing. In the end, the ship design, variable strengths and weaknesses, and combination of enhancements is a strong point.
What I Don’t Like
While it may seem odd to list controls as something I didn’t like when I clearly stated I liked the gameplay, there is a simple reason for that. Flashout 3 required me to learn the nuances of the control system and, even more so, how each vehicle reacts on the different tracks included in the game. This is not a bad thing in a vacuum, but there is a layer to this that is a negative.
Within the controls of each ship, there is a secondary control system that allows you to bank hard left and hard for tighter turns and obstacle avoidance. The idea, in theory, is solid. Still, at times in the midst of trying to navigate the track, avoid oncoming attacks, and utilize the shoulder buttons all at once, it can be a bit much and creates a level of difficulty that maybe wasn’t intended by the developers.
The control system isn’t something that is going to stop someone from enjoying the game, but for some, it may feel a bit convoluted for the sake of bad design.
Many racing titles, regardless of what category they fall under, struggle with depth. Flashout 3 offers three modes: campaign, exhibition, and split screen. For me, that’s not quite enough. To compensate for that, the campaign or story mode needs to be robust and offer a lengthy journey, and Flashout 3 falls short of that.
With a game like Flashout 3, the split screen offering is to be commended, as it feels like an option from a bygone era, but it’s simply not enough when combined with a relatively short campaign and no online mode where we can go head-to-head against others. As I have stated before, there is fun to be had with Flashout 3, but the lack of depth hurts the overall experience in the long run.
Flashout 3 isn’t replacing your love for Wipeout or F-Zero, but it offers some fun on the track and a visual experience that is exceptionally well done. There isn’t a lot of depth and there is a decent level of frustration that goes along with learning the game’s controls and how to maneuver around the track. The new offering from Jujubee has a few issues and could use a bit more substance, but it has a fun “pick up and play” aura about it, just not for long stretches of time.
In short, Flashout 3 takes some getting used to, and in today’s world, that is not the typical way to keep people involved. Still, once you understand the mechanics and controls, Flashout 3 delivers on enough fronts to create a fun and immersive experience, just one that lacks longevity and depth.