I’ve always enjoyed a good Supercross game, even back to the early years of console gaming but as technology advanced, we get more action on screen and a more refined gameplay experience, so surely modern day Supercross titles will be among the best.
Q1 brings us two Supercross games, but first out of the block is Monster Energy Supercross, with MX vs ATV All Out releasing in March.
With Monster aiming to do with Supercross what Red Bull have done with just about every other extreme sport, Monster Energy Supercross is the official game of the AMA Supercross and FIM World Championship, developed by Milestone, there’s a wealth of experience with MXGP3 and MotoGP 17 last year as well as the forthcoming Gravel.
Heading past the title screen, you’re given a short introduction to the game with a single race, before heading out to start your own career, the career consists of a 250 East and West championship as well as a 450 World championship..
Initially you’ll want to get into one of the slower divisional champs, which default to ‘very easy’ so if your familiar with Supercross games you’ll be wanting to pump up the difficulty a little otherwise after a few races to get used to things you’ll find yourself easily topping the podium.
Steering is on the left stick with your front and back backs controlled independently on LT and ‘A’ it feels a little awkward at first but you soon get to grips with taking corners tight, or drifting wide to keep up speed, I found Monster Supercross a little more uncomfortable to race than many titles, because having the clutch on LB and your rides weight distribution on the right analogue stick, the only chance of taking and landing jumps perfectly seemed to be down to carrying the right speed into the launch and not careful control of your clutch or weight and the bikes seem to struggle with balance issues, one minute they can balance perfectly on a piece of wood surrounding the track, wasting precious seconds as you just want your wheel to actually move, the next moment you’ll get the slightest clip from another bike and it’ll send your rider crashing to the floor.
Thankfully beside these few control shortcomings, Monster Energy Supercross is fun to play, rewarding and has a wide range of official tracks and arenas which are unbelievably accurate.
Full of pyrotechnics, fairly decent mud effects and some high quality textures, it was regularly pumping out some real eye-candy on the Xbox One X.
Sadly, there’s not much more good news, as I found out when watching back a replay of one of my race’s, switching to the helmet cam was insanely realistic, it made every corner feel like a thrill ride and filled me with a sense of achievement especially on a race I didn’t fall once.
Unfortunately switching to a third person camera wasn’t quite as pleasurable as the bike started to judder, every sense of realism was thrown out of the window and having this footage in a game trailer would be a sure fire way of ensuring people don’t buy the game. I’m sure it can be fixed in a future patch, but as it stands on my pre-release playthrough, the majority of the replays are unwatchable.
Another area that was less than impressive is the menu system, navigating back and forth through the various menu’s, especially customizing your camera or bike was nothing short of a chore, for instance I unlocked a handful of gear for my rider, forgetting the exact names of these items, I was forced to trawl through every individual manufacturer and then scroll back down to find the next one, there’s no continuation, new unlock alerts or sort order which will put many people off delving into the wide range of gear you can unlock.
Most of the unlocks for rider and gear are purely cosmetic, and can be purchased using the in game currency you’ll build up by participating in races, but applying these is no more enjoyable as watching those replays, you’ll want to cover your characters face with a helmet (because from the 10 face’s, they all look like they’ve been hit in the face a few times with a baseball bat) flicking through the helmets, you’ll be greeted by a fuzzy mess for a second while the texture loads in, I admit the overall presentation and graphics of the events are great, but they’re not exactly groundbreaking so there’s no excuse for such a delay when simply loading a helmet, gloves or even switching faces, it’s as though the team that are supposed to refine the graphics to make sure they display smoothly all went on holiday for half of the development cycle.
Unfortunately these are the area’s people will see and judge the game on, before they even contemplate picking up the controller, and as much fun as the racing might be, it all feels somewhat tarnished thanks to some sloppy work on the menu’s and visuals.
The single player experience feels a little light, even after completing a championship, nothing changes, except for a few social messages on the career screen, you’re just congratulated and given the choice to move on to the next season which leaves the whole experience feeling a little isolated. You can also play a single race or championship customizing which tracks you race on, but the most fun resides in the career, track editor and online mode.
The track editor is pretty well equipped, it’ll take some time getting used to building the track so your course intersects back onto itself with a finishing line as well as trying to position jumps and bumps so there’s at least a chance of a smooth ride, but it’s certainly fun to play around with and once you’ve perfected that, uploading the track online to share with others and use in online championships is a real bonus.
Playing online has to be the saving factor, it’ll ultimately depend on the popularity of the game, but setting up a championship with your friends is certainly one of the best ways to enjoy Monster Energy Supercrosss.