Monster Energy Supercross (PS4) Review

Monster Energy Supercross (or Monster Energy AMA Supercross – FIM World Championship: The Official Videogame – to give it it’s full title!) is the latest game from Italian developer, Milestone S.r.l. – they are a common name in the world of racing games, especially when it comes to motorcycles. In terms of what they have worked on in the past, you have big titles such as the MXGP and MotoGP series and even the upcoming Gravel is one of theirs. So, in terms of Monster Energy Supercross, if anyone was going to develop a game based on this event, these would be the guys to go with. The question is, have they taken the tried and tested gameplay of their previous titles and expanded upon it in order to create their latest game, or have they simply slapped a new skin on it and packaged it as a new game? Let’s find out…

You begin your journey with a simple 250cc no-frills motorcycle.

As you’d hope to see, Milestone has added a few different ways you can play the game and make adjustments on the fly. The first playstyle we have been given is a deep career mode which lets you progress through numerous 250cc division seasons as you progress towards the 450cc division. The game suffers from having no tool-tips, no video guides and no active help or guidance – it throws you straight into the game and lets you get on with it. You do have access to a tutorial in text and image form in the options menu, but I would have prefered it if the first track was a tutorial which taught you all the various mechanics as you did your first lap. That being said, the first time you access anything you are presented with a small pop-up tip but these are never shown again.

Being dropped straight into the action isn’t so bad though as the best way to learn this kind of game is to be hands on. The first bike you are given is your basic 250cc which won’t make it easy to win the majority of the races. As such, regardless of your position, as long as you have a sponsor and cross the finish line then you will get an amount of experience and money which you can use to both obtain bigger paying sponsors and upgrades for your bike. This is an essential part of the game as if you stick with the same bike then you won’t be earning the big bucks very often.

The main goal of the single-player campaign revolves around becoming the best and qualifying for the 450cc division which opens up a lot more of the game and more varied races which span the whole of North America. If you’ve ever played Mario Kart on the Wii U/Switch and jumped straight from 50cc to 200cc without any prior knowledge of progressing through the steps in between – this is pretty much the jump you are getting here. The game has a few ‘issues’ which I’ll touch on later which makes this much harder once you hit the big-boy league. However, as long as you are happy with your bike and you can maintain a decent race without falling over every 10 feet then I’m sure you will do just fine.

You can smell the fear in the driver’s eyes as I sneak up and plan my next move – I’m the one in red (photo mode)

Now, I guess I should talk about the issues I had with the controls before I move onto the next segment. Technically, the controls themselves are solid – it’s your standard button layout and will be second nature if you have played a Milestone racing game previously. However, the game doesn’t appear to have improved it’s physics issues which have been present in previous titles. The ragdoll effects are quite hilarious yet also the difference between you winning and losing a race. If you so much as land a little bit funny as you come off a jump then your guy will go flying sometimes, if you have another driver bump your tyre then you will spin and fall over, and best of all – if you jump in the air – you can literally ride your bike on the heads of the drivers in front of you until the game thinks you’ve had enough fun and either brings you back to earth nicely or makes you fall off your bike.

Don’t get me wrong though – I had a lot of fun riding on their heads and the same physics applies to the CPU, so you can knock them over with a skilful nudge – think Burnout Paradise. Also, by default, your control scheme is set to ‘assisted’ with regards to the physics – this means the game will try and auto right you as you jump and land. Disabling this gives you more control but makes the game much harder and a challenge for experienced gamers as it now requires you to adjust your land trajectory so you don’t come down front first and go over your handlebars!

A look at the in-game HUD. Lots of info and a lot of motion blur.

One thing I really like about this game though is the fact it lets you adjust so many things in order to make it easier or harder for yourself – so, not only can you adjust your AI difficulty, but you can change the Race Length, physics mode, rider weight, transmission, the race type (you can opt to do the qualifier and other aspects), and rewind (which I’ll come to in a minute). All of these options adjust how much of a bonus you get after a race – by default, with everything on the easiest setting, you have 0% gained – so no negative amounts for going easy. Yet if you’re up for the challenge, everything on Max will bag you 500% extra rewards at the end of a race.

Rewind, as I mentioned above, is probably the single and most useful mechanic you will need in this game! Like in a few previous racing games, it gives you the ability to hit R1 at any time and rewind the gameplay up to around 10-20 seconds. But, unlike the other games that use the mechanic – there is no limit on how many times you can use it, you just can’t go back X seconds and then instantly turn it on and go back another X amount to bypass the limit on how far back you can go. Some people will see this as a cheat mechanic and others will use it as a lifesaver for when they are hit with unfair physics or fall over by accident – either way, you can turn it off before racing if you want 15% more rewards.

The sponsors change the look of the bike and the logos on your clothes. No repainting your bikes I’m afraid. (photo mode)

Another big part of the game, other than racing, is your sponsorships. These are all real-life sponsors and can range from GoPro to Nut up. Whichever sponsor you are with will give varying amounts of sponsorship money which will increase if you reach their required position – for example GoPro requires you to hit the top three in order to get their full reward. Changing sponsors will also change the design of your bike and slightly adjusts your in-game Twitter feed.

Also, the track variety is pretty good as you have both inside and outside tracks, small cramped courses all the way to long winding one, and even the weather changes when playing outside. Have you ever tried to ride a motorcycle around a very bendy course whilst the mud is all slippery? It’s not easy. In this instance, before each course, you are presented with stats of things like the weather and course type so you can adjust your bike accordingly and make it more compatible.

On top of the Career mode, you can also jump into a single event which can be either a Single Race, Time Attack, or a Championship (both based on official details or custom). There is plenty of options here for the singleplayer aspect of the game – and I’ve not even touched on one of the amazing features which I’ll come to after the next segment.

Sometimes, playing solo is a bit lonely (me on my custom track with no other drivers…) (photo mode)

You won’t always want to play on your own, especially not in a racing game – for this, we have the Multiplayer mode. The multiplayer works great for me so far – I’ve not had any disconnects, lag or rubber banding and I’ve played about 5-10 matched online so far. You can either opt to play/setup a single match or a full championship – which is up to 17 tracks. Once again, literally everything can be set by the person creating the session such as; The class, what level of physics to use, how long the race is, if a qualifier is in place, if the game will use custom tracks or only the game’s ones, whether you want the track selection and weather to be random or a vote per round, AI difficulty, collisions and if it’s a private match or public. That’s a lot of options! If you don’t feel like setting up the game then you can jump in via a quick match or by searching for something more specific.

I’m not sure how long the online community will remain active, but at the moment it’s healthy – plus with the addition of CPU players on there, it doesn’t really matter if you only find one other person to play against as there will still be a bunch of other riders. The game also sports online leaderboards which you can strive to be number one in.

The track editor – easy to use, great results. p.s. my track is terrible!

Now, the option which I think is awesome – I know other games have included this before, hell Doom and Mini Golf both had this same function – the ability to create your own tracks! Created tracks can then be played in multiplayer or singleplayer and you can even upload yours and download other peoples tracks online – which as of right now, there are 177 pages of user-created tracks. It’s incredibly simple to create a track as well, you place a starting point and then simply pick the various straights, bends, jumps, etc… This aspect of the game even has a great tutorial which guides you through creating your first track – something they should adopt for the first race… I’m not sure how often I will use this feature, but the fact it has it means that you can play a different track every single day for a very long time and let your inner Supercross track designer out as you release them for others to play online. The track editor is NOT included in the Switch version of the game.

Now onto the technical aspects which I picked up – The game looks great. I’ve seen some people say the game looks a little dated but I wouldn’t agree – true, there isn’t mud splatter or anything truly taxing, but on the PS4 Pro (which I played it on) via FW 5.50 – the supersampling message popped up which means it is being automatically downsampled from a higher resolution. This results in the game looking nice and sharp with the colours on the other bikers gear really popping in the very brown locations. The game also, surprisingly, sports a photo mode! Mid-race just hit the options button on the DS4 and pick the ‘free camera’ mode – this will take you to the basic, but works perfectly ‘photo mode’. I’ve managed to pull off some pretty good pictures via this mode but it does mean when I unpause I tend to crash – thank god for the rewind option though!

The one thing I really hate in modern gaming is loading times – I don’t mind it if a game takes a while to start up but then it runs great, or if we have the occasional few seconds here or there – but Monster Energy Supercross seems to take a little too long to load up. Loading the track I understand, it has to load the assets into memory and get everything sorted – but moving through the various menus you notice the game-saving all the time and taking it’s time navigating. It’s not really long, but it’s long enough to notice and for it to begin annoying you. As I said, I’m on the PS4 Pro and I use an external USB 3.0 Hybrid drive, which is a 4tb 7200rpm mechanical drive with 8GB or SSD built in as a cache – and it still seemed to take a while to load or navigate around. Once you’re in the race though – perfect.

Going forward – you can pick up the Season Pass today for £11.99 which gives you instant access to 60 liveries (10 for each manufacturer) and 10 rider tracksuits, 15 additional Icons and Butt patches, the Credit multiplier (which auto increases how many credits you earn all the time), and in the near future you will also receive both an exact replica of the 2017 Monster Energy Cup track at the Sam Boyd Stadium in Las Vegas (for both online and offline racing) and also a new ‘compound’ which is a training space with two new tracks for players to train on both Supercross and Motocross circuits.

Official Trailer:

Final Conclusion:
Monster Energy Supercross is a very deep experience to both those new to the genre and fans of Milestone’s previous work. There is not only a lot of content but also the ability to create and share newly created content with the community which will help prolong the life of the title. It takes a while to get used to the controls if you have not played a similar game in the past (as it isn’t your typical racer), but once you know what you’re doing, it’s such a blast to play solo and competitively online. Usually, I would say games like this are for the hardcore fans only, but I believe there is plenty here to entertain new people who are interested in the genre, even if you haven’t played or even watched it before.

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A copy of the game was kindly provided for review purposes

Monster Energy Supercross

£49.99
8

Final Score

8.0/10

The Good:

  • Track editor - endless amount of tracks locally and online
  • Good soundtrack
  • Looks great on PS4 Pro (Downsamples on 1080p TV)
  • No two races are the same
  • Rewind option to cater for mistakes or new people

The Bad:

  • Loading times are a bit long
  • Not much customisation in terms of colours or designs outside of the sponsor
  • Physics are a bit hit-or-miss

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