If you’ve ever hopped on a motorcycle and popped the clutch into gear, then chances are high that there’s one thing that terrifies you on the road. It’s not VW Golf drivers with go-faster stripes who go into a berserker frenzy if you dare to lane split at the robots. It’s not a gentle reminder that Mother Nature likes her roads wet and wild when the heavens open.
It’s sand. The stuff that Anakin Skywalker detests with a passion. Sand (and by extension, mud), is something that sends a chill down the spine of anyone who enjoys their two-wheeler. Sand is treacherous, sand is a million particles of death with every meter taken forward. Sure, there may be plenty of motorcycles that can navigate their way through such untrustworthy terrain but they still require fine control when the going gets tough.
The point of all this? I think professional motocross drivers are the bravest suicide pilots I’ve ever seen. Men and women who jump steep hills for laughs and stick the landing for rapturous applause. There’s something magical about watching a rider nail the idea of slapping the laws of gravity with a 450CC engine, before shredding through a corner of mud in an effort to be the quickest fella n the track.
Watching an event of that calibre is one of life’s greatest joys. But playing it? That’s an intriguing prospect, an idea which has the potential to shine with the rebellious attitude of the Supercross movement. It’s a pity then, that Monster Energy Supercross: The Official Video Game has all of the horses under its hood and none of the charm under its helmet.
Let’s stay positive for a moment before we get dirty. With Monster Energy Supercross, developer Milestone has managed to craft a game that is as official as can be. It has the riders, it has all the motorcycle brands and it features a superb collection of tracks that stretch from the iconic Daytona International Speedway through to the CenturyLink Field in Seattle, it’s a collection of the finest dirt tracks across the entire United States of America.
Every jump, every wide corner and tight turn, all lovingly recreated within Monster Energy Supercross. There’s an attention to detail here that is magnificent to explore in any gear, surrounded by roaring crowds and enough pyrotechnics to set your face on fire. Mechanically, Monster Energy Supercross ain’t too shabby either.
Milestone’s dip into the genre has always emphasised a number of factors in the pursuit of first place. How well can you take a corner? How quickly can you reposition your rider? Can you nail the landing, slide into a corner and power out into the straight? Dozens upon dozens of factors that in real life forces professional riders to dance upon their gears and throttles in a kamikaze display of madness and mud.
To its credit, Monster Energy Supercross does have plenty of options under its hood for riders across a wide skill spectrum. If you’re confident enough that you can handle everything on your own, then set your fingers free to tap across your controller. If you’d prefer a few training wheels, then Monster Energy Supercross has so many assists available that you’ll basically just need to learn how to crank the throttle and guide your rider to the finish line.
The end result is a game that plays damn well. Monster Energy Supercross manages to successfully translate the feeling of sand on your visor to the point where you’ll be sweating at the mere thought of the road flinging you off of your bike. It’s quick, it’s dirty and it’s a vibrant celebration of the most dangerous speed known to man.
It’s just a pity then, that Monster Energy Supercross has absolutely zero personality. There’s just no effort poured into a game that should be brimming with Generations X-Z of attitude. No in-your-face school of alternative thought when the main menu spends several minutes booting up and connecting to servers. For all its technical attention to detail and wonderfully detailed tracks, Monster Energy Supercross just feels bland.
It’s difficult to get yourself invested in your rider and his career, as even the art of creating an avatar boil down to picking the un-fugliest face available and slapping some generic labels on him. Likewise, the career mode doesn’t exactly push a player to be number one. There’s no real emphasis on incentives to finish your season at the top of the grid. It feels like you’re merely just there for the ride.
It’s a problem endemic to many a game developed by Milestone, a studio that seems more than capable of grasping the technical aspect of what makes two-wheeled speed the best thing on the planet, before they call it a day and head down to the pub for a job adequately done. It also doesn’t help that starting any race results in the track being populated with rival riders that have the survival instincts of Lemmings, mad motorcyclists who’ll regularly attempt to chop your head off with their wheels provided that you haven’t digitally murdered half the competition along the way.
It somewhat blunts the immersion, as do numerous glitches that pop up from time to time. They’re not frequent, but having the game suddenly decide that I’m riding in the wrong direction or just flatout wipe my bike out from under me is a race-ruining series of glitches that shouldn’t be there in the first place.
Where Monster Energy Supercross does kind of find its saving grace however, is in its track editor. If you’ve ever fancied setting up a narrow track of all the damn jumps in existence, then here you go. Limitations are few, creativity is tuned to the max and the idea of taking a crack at someone else’s course is going to keep the Monster Energy Supercross community alive for many months to come. Combined with the multiplayer competition that pits you against eleven other riders, and you’ve got enough of a challenge on your hands from actual people.
Although I do wish Milestone would sort out its horrendous netcode, which apparently behaves according to the direction that the wind blows in as its peer-to-peer connection can result in many a dropped race.
Milestone has a solid first entry on its hands with Monster Energy Supercross, a game that is for the most part technically polished and amazing to watch in action. Where Monster Energy Supercross refuses to get dirty, is in its bland presentation and lack of attitude. Its career mode is the poster child for doing the bare minimum, while it’s online offerings show some tremendous promise should it eventually iron out several technical bugs.
Last Updated: February 21, 2018