“Full gamepad support!” as if that weren’t the least. “Air brakes!”, as if they would distinguish a good racer. “Challenging campaign consisting of 10 tournaments”, as if the far too short career were a good thing. And “Stunning 3D graphics!” (the missing hyphen isn’t my invention), as if Flashout 3 were of all things graphically outstanding.
Of course you are right. When I ask if I should have guessed what to expect, the answer is a resounding yes. No wonder: the series has its roots in the App Store and on Google Play and neither touchscreen control nor a tiny screen or gaming on the go are particularly compatible with martial high-speed races. But whenever a game so clearly follows in the footsteps of a certain WipEout, it piques my interest, which is why I checked out this copycat too.
Now I don’t want to make a big deal out of it, because it’s clear from the first few meters that Flashout 3 still carries its smartphone past in full in the first exclusive PC edition. Instead of brisk planes, there are rather bulky cars at the start. The mixture of routing and flight physics lacks the exciting flow of the big role models, the feeling of speed is limited anyway and if you don’t fly perfectly, you not only get off course, you also get stuck in the scenery for a frustratingly long time.
In VR I can’t even get Flashout 3 to run at all right now, even though the Rift is officially supported, and the ‘Full Steam Deck Support!’ also touted in the description is that it runs on the deck at all – madness! Luckily there was no talk of continuous 60 frames per second; only 30 are reached when all details are switched off. But they feel pretty awful in a game of this nature. To make matters worse, the game saves in the Steam cloud are not synchronized across multiple PCs. If you mainly play on a large PC and would like to continue racing on the go, you won’t be able to do much with this kind of “full” support.
I think it’s really nice to unlock more ships and especially weapons in the course of the career, because you can equip each glider with up to three weapon or defense systems, with each system requiring a certain amount of energy. So you have to weigh up whether you want to be fast, agile or use powerful weapons. The fact that most of the weapons don’t automatically seek their target, but are fired straight ahead over the bow, is of course a questionable design decision for a racer with heavily winding tracks.
I also find it strange that all ships can fire all weapons a few seconds after launch, which then only have to recharge for a few seconds. Who had the idea that an excessive shooting orgy from the second to the fourth curve was a good idea in the long run? There are neither tactics nor exciting racing involved. Especially since downed opponents are immediately put back on the track to hurl their entire arsenal at you – whereupon you are immediately put back on the track to give your opponents your entire arsenal… you know.
At some point, the field naturally straightens out and a reasonably normal race takes place. And after all, you don’t have to get pole position, you just have to finish the tournament as at least third or third to “win” it (sigh). The fact that you can never completely prevent the destruction of your own ship always remains a weakness in the game design.
Oh, and you can’t cancel tournaments, by the way. You accidentally start with the wrong ship, maybe without weapons because you were just refitting? Well, now you have to do this for four races! That being said, having to set the plane for all four races of the current tournament doesn’t make much sense anyway, although Elimination Runs require a very different setup than Time Trials, and all tournaments naturally feature multiple types of races.
Okay, so after a few tournaments, despite all the nagging, I actually got to a point where the speed class was high enough and I had the right systems unlocked to be having more fun with Flashout 3 than I gave it credit for at the time. If you activate a shield at the beginning of the race (you have to unlock it first) in order to zoom past a few opponents safely, and then throw off decoys from there, which also cause damage (also only available later), the whole thing suddenly closes an absurdly simple child’s game.
Flashout 3 – conclusion
No, Flashout 3 is never really good, even with all available weapon systems. You can only adjust the planes in such a way that you can keep the opponents at bay in order to finally enjoy the actual flying over the route – as far as this is possible in view of the largely boring route. Basically, the WipEout imitator not only lags behind its role model, it unfortunately doesn’t even satisfy the small appetite for a fast arcade racer in between, because several design decisions impede the decisive flow and the fun of the martial adrenaline kick. And to be honest: I wouldn’t enjoy such a tired copy even on my smartphone. So stick with Redout 2. It currently does everything a good racing game of this type needs to do.
Flashout 3 – pros and cons
- Unlock some weapon and defense systems
- Split Screen Racing
- Nice cockpit view…
- … which, however, offers too little overview
- Boring routing
- Constant shooting and getting shot
- Extremely short career
- Setting up the planes only for a complete tournament and canceling the tournaments is not possible
- Low frame rate on Steam deck and no cloud syncing between different PCs
- Frequent snagging in backdrops or in deep depressions
Developer: jujubee – Publishers: jujubee – Platform: PC – release: 9/22/2022 – Genre: racing game – Price: €17.99