Milestone has become pretty much synonymous with the motorcycle racing genre on the console. The studio already develops a number of key licensed motorcycle sports titles and have now enlarged their racing stable further with the introduction of the first Supercross title in a while, Monster Energy Supercross - The Official Videogame
. A fast, adrenaline-filled sport, with bikes and riders screaming across dirt tracks full of carefully placed bumps and jumps. It all appears very rough-and-tumble, which, as it so happens, is a good summary of the title itself.
Derived from motocross, the racing takes place inside stadiums on artificially created dirt surfaces. The tracks are carefully constructed with obstacles strategically placed in combinations to make the racing appear as dramatic as possible with the riders skimming across a series of low bumps, or taking to the air in spectacular jumps. Playing to packed stadiums of tens of thousands of cheering fans and with pyrotechnics at the finishing flag, it has all of the hallmarks of American sports, and this is fairly realistically captured by the Italian developers.
For the most part, out on the track, it all feels quite real — more so if you choose the helmet cam as your race view. All of the stadiums from the different regional divisions, East and West, are faithfully reproduced, and all of the bikes, 250 and 450cc classes, manufacturers, riders, and sponsors are all fully represented. The team at Milestone has certainly done its best to ensure a high level of authenticity to the experience.
The game modes are fairly standard for the racing genre and include single events, time attack, career and a championship that can follow the official sport or can be custom-built by the player. Multiplayer is simpler, with players being able to join or host races, although players will also decide between single events or multi-event championships. Regardless of the game mode, players will earn both credits and prestige points for the race. Similar to Forza
's XP system, prestige points are rewarded for race events — jumps, scrubs, overtakes, wheelies — and will help the player level up and unlock more customization items that can be used to adorn the player's racer avatar or bike, but these will also cost some of those hard-earned credits. The cash too can be spent on upgrades for your machine, or even a completely new bike when they are available.
Racing is generally short but intense and during the first few turns, extremely crowded with 20 riders all on the circuit. Opt out of qualifying for an event and you'll find yourself in the worst possible starting position — usually on the far outside heading towards the first corner. The AI does well and plays along rather sportingly. On lower levels, you will see the opposition take falls and slides, unfortunately, that can sometimes have a negative consequence for your own race as they may well take you down with them.
The gameplay captures the skill of the sport, demanding you choreograph the combination of bumps and jumps at just the right speed to navigate them most quickly. Catch them wrongly and your speed will take a big hit and you'll find yourself dropping places rapidly. Gaming-wise, this may seem frustrating as the AI flies past you as you struggle to get the right rhythm for the bumps, but this is all part of the real-life sport. So too is it a challenge to find the balance of braking and feathering the throttle to take you around the tight corners and hairpins. Add to that, using one of the two first-person camera angles instead of the chase cameras and you'll really feel you're in the thick of the race.
There are nice little details too; the position indicator in the middle of the circuit correctly shows your rider number and race position and the leader banner shows the leading racer name and number. It's a shame then that there are some issues which can really jar you from the immersion and experience for which the title is really aiming. The physics at times can be annoyingly off. Even when selecting the more realistic of the two settings, you can find yourself hitching a ride on the shoulders of a fellow competitor unfortunate enough to be underneath you after a high jump.
More jarring, are the drops in frame rate — strangely predictable too as they so often happen at the first corner or when the first rider crosses the line to start their last lap. This happens in both single and multiplayer games, and it creates catastrophe if it occurs when you're just entering a corner or tackling one of the other course obstacles. The graphics, too, are underwhelming which shaves off some of the otherwise strong realism to each race. Another visual blemish comes in the form of the character models. While it is possible to create your rider's head and visage, the results, at least with the helmets removed, are frankly a little scary. Menus too could do with a little polish, but this is something that could be said of a few Milestone titles.
What is commendable is the inclusion of a track editor enabling community-created content, which is always a good thing and will vastly extend the number of circuits available to players. It's simply a matter of selecting an arena and then building up a track from set pieces including all of the jumps, bumps, bridges and banked corners. All of these tracks can be uploaded, shared, and raced in the various single player and multiplayer game modes, and of course, lap times are tracked on global leaderboards.
Multiplayer enables up to 12 players to face-off against each other online. All of the competitions from single events, through to custom competitions or a full official season can be replicated, including full weekends with qualifying rounds determining the player's grid position. To add more variations, players can vote for their favorite track, and weather conditions. Unfortunately, the online play suffers from some of the problems of single player with the familiar frame rate drops but it is also compounded by the occasional lag spikes. Whilst the game will be expanded with DLC, there are no loot crates or microtransactions in the title. Currently, other than credit multiplier, the DLC is essentially cosmetic with additional liveries, icons, and racing gear.
Achievement hunters will be happy to know that all of the achievements can be unlocked in single player mode, although some will require a little grinding. None are particularly difficult. For those wishing to complete it quickly, estimates put it around 15 hours to unlock all of the achievements.Check out our Best Racing Games article for a compilation of other great games in this genre.
SummaryMonster Energy Supercross - The Official Videogame
certainly captures the atmosphere and the essence of the high-adrenaline sport. The arenas are well-crafted reproductions of their real-life counterparts, and out on the track, the bikes and riders look decent. It gets slowed by jarring moments such as strangely routine lag or sometimes frustrating handling and physics. There is a feeling of the game being not quite finished, with a little polishing still needed in places. That all said, when it works, it works well and there is plenty of content to keep players entertained, especially with the advent of community created tracks. In short, it feels one patch shy of being a great racing title.
- Captures the excitement and atmosphere of the sport
- Great reproductions of the stadiums
- Licensed teams and riders
- Track editor allows for limitless new races
- Regular frame rate drops in certain places
- Character graphics look bizarre
- Physics can be off at times
The reviewer spent around 12 hours screaming through mud, bouncing over bumps, and catching air from the jumps. 35 achievements were unlocked. An Xbox One digital download code was provided by the publisher for the purposes of review.
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