Developer Milestone S.r.l. know how to make a good racing game when they combine their creativeness and ambition. Ride, MXGP3, and MotoGP 17, roundup their most recent releases. With Gravel releasing in just two weeks time, fans of Milestone have the newly launched Monster Energy Supercross to contend with in the meantime. Monster Energy Supercross is an officially licensed game that includes both the riders and locations of the North American Supercross circuit. Let me tell you, this is a tough-as-nails experience. Even when playing on the easiest difficulty, I’ve yet to come first place, but I’m getting there. Monster Energy Supercross isn’t a game that will hold your hand, and it certainly leans far closer to a simulation game than it does to an arcade game, mostly due to its physics. That being said, I’m still having an absolute blast with it.
Milestone can be somewhat inconsistent when it comes to their motocross games, as made apparent by the aforementioned titles. The quality is there, but the dots don’t always connect to produce a worthwhile racer. Monster Energy Supercross is definitely a valiant effort, but it’s not quite as definitive as I had hoped. Tutorials in this game are necessary, hell, I’ll go so far as to say that tutorials in this game are mandatory. The problems is, is that they’re hidden under layers of menus. Furthermore, they don’t help as much as they could have done, and often merely aid you in understanding rather than execution. Don’t get me wrong, the help is there, but it would have been nice to see them fleshed out a bit more. This wont be much of an issue for veteran or genre frequents, but it will surely boggle the minds of newcomers.
The main menu houses all of your modes across single player and multiplayer. Starting with single player, the game caters for Single Event, Time Attack, Career, Championship, and Course Editor. Multiplayer on the other hand offers Quick Race, Create a Race, and Leaderboards. It’s a standard affair and doesn’t really offer anything that we haven’t seen before, but the content within is justified. Despite that the game comes with all of the licensed riders, players can indeed create their own avatar. There’s a decent blend of customization options to pull from, including the likes of changing the color of your helmet, mask, and bike. If that’s not your thing and you would rather race using an official rider, there’s a total of 38 riders to choose from. Monster Energy Supercross serves up 17 different tracks across three championship classes, namely 250SX East, 250SX West, and 450SX.
Regardless as to your chosen track and rider, the game looks pretty good across all modes. The level of authenticity is most likely what will sell the visuals the most, but they could have better. Take for example the particle effect, I would have liked to have seen more of this. Dirt will often splash up on-screen, but not so much that it relays any sense of realism. This may well be a small gripe to complain about, but little touches like that would have helped with the immersion. Still, I fully appreciate Milestone’s effort here. Monster Energy Supercross looks faithful to the sport. The tracks are well designed and behave as they should, and the textures and lighting works wonders too. It’s not a game that’s going to win any awards for its graphics, but they’re commendable enough to get by without too much criticism from me.
I also quite liked the generic rock soundtrack that plays throughout. It’s not too intrusive, nor does it begin to irritate after long sessions of play. Oddly enough I couldn’t pick up on any sound effects for collisions, which may be due to the loud constant noise of motors that are blaring from beginning to end. These sound effects, much like the visual design, remain authentic and well crafted throughout. It’s the actual gameplay that will be a make or break point for many fans, I suspect. The game relays a lot of realism, especially when it comes to how each bike handles on the several tracks within. This is a fast-paced sport that takes place on terrain that’s constantly all over the place, and as such, requires a good level of understanding and perseverance to make progression.
Quick thinking and fast reflexes are a must, especially when you take into account that the physics will regularly try to undermine you. On top of that, the AI seems oblivious to this. If you give them so much as an inch, they’ll take a marathon and leave you in the dirt, so to speak. This can be said about each slice of content within, from the Single Event races, right up to the beefy Career mode. There’s something here for everyone, if you’ve got the patience to stay with Monster Energy Supercross long enough to bond with its gameplay. Again, I have yet to come first place, but thanks to how well developed the game is, I’m determined to stick with it and eventually come out on top. The sense of reward you feel when you actually nail a good few laps is great, because rather than just going with the motions from start to finish, this game makes you feel as though you deserve your outcome, one way or another.
Moving to the multiplayer, this is a steady serving that I hope will be populated for a good deal of time to come. I did witness some framerate drops during online play, and although this was a nuisance, it’s nothing that a quick post-launch patch wont fix, sooner rather than later. Monster Energy Supercross comes with a track editor, which isn’t something we see much of in present day gaming. The track editor here is very easy to get to grips with and comes packed with several options and content. Tracks will need to be validated by the AI before being uploaded, of course, but unless you’re purposely trying to defy the laws of gravity, it shouldn’t be too tricky to utilize. You can also read up on tutorials to get an idea of what to expect within. You’re able to choose a stadium as well as its size and structure; a starting point, and then several pieces of track to string together however you see fit.
You’ll also earn new additions for the editor through natural play, which is an odd design choice if you ask me. Surely it would have been better to give us all of the tools from the get-go, rather than stringing us out, but it is what it is. Creations can indeed be shared online, which adds to the longevity of the game, and hopefully its online lifespan. Although not on-par with (let’s say) Forza Motorsport, the vehicle upgrades in Monster Energy Supercross are passable. It doesn’t go above and beyond, but there’s enough on show to work with in any case. The game allows for four profile save slots, meaning you can create four riders of your choosing without having to sacrifice a slot for a new or different build. The UI and menu layout remains accessible and fluid, which isn’t something that Milestone tends to get right, so it was good to see that the developers put some extra thought into this aspect.
Monster Energy Supercross isn’t the best game that we’ve seen from Milestone, but it’s certainly well worth a visit. Despite some problems with the framerate, and issues with the difficulty of play, there’s hours of fun to be had here. That being said, this is a game that demands perseverance. Lesser patient players may find this more frustrating than it’s worth.
This game was tested and reviewed on Xbox One. All of the opinions and insights here are subject to that version.