Milestone are no stranger to 2 wheeled racing games, from the official MotoGP games to Supercross’s nearest equivalent, the MXGP titles, so it’s unsurprising to find that Monster Energy Supercross is a solid Supercross experience.
There are a wealth of official riders and tracks to choose from and a career mode that sees you starting on 250SX class bikes with the aim to move up to the more powerful 450SX class. Tracks range from simple oval dirt surfaces with a few dips and jumps to much larger, twisting tracks which will test your braking and ability to control the bike.
While the game straddles the line between arcade and sim, there’s a certain skill to controlling the bikes here, as you need to control both bike and rider in order to make corners or land successfully after a jump. It’s less about crashing out and more about maximising potential to get past the fairly aggressive AI drivers in single player, especially in the harder difficultly levels (I hold my hand up in saying that I found the ‘Realistic’ difficulty to be fairly unbeatable on some tracks).
The track editor is well worth a mention, providing a way to give the game some unique content that can challenge riders in surprising ways. The editor itself is easy to use though requires a fair bit of time to create something worthwhile, but it’s the online community which excites me most. The content already available for download is quite inventive and spans a whole range of styles. Although the single player game has little in the way of incentive bar the championship position, it does open up new parts to be used in the editor, which certainly gives you a reason for coming back.
As well as Career Mode, you get the standard Time Trial and Single Event (either a race or a series of races in a championship) and the all important 12 player multiplayer mode. Time Trial feels a little empty but is useful for honing skills like taking those tight turns and single races are pretty much as you’d expect. The multiplayer is where this game shines, though, or would do without a few niggles.
For the most part, tracks and stadiums look great with the new engine, all authentic looking with everything from bombastic entrances with fireworks to brightly lit billboards and even cameras visible. Bikes, too, look great, but all of this comes at the expense of the frame rate, which dips considerably when too many bikes are all jostling for position and, more vexing, at the start of a race as the gate goes down. This is probably most frustrating in multiplayer as it may give some players the edge should their game be free of this slight pause, but it did occur a few times in single player, particularly when I was already at the back of the pack and all the other bikes were visible around the corner.
When the game is running smoothly, which is most of the time, it works really well. Newcomers and strangers to the sport may find it slightly gruelling; this is, after all, noisy bikes going around a track for lap after lap, but there is plenty of action in taking those corners well or timing a jump to get an advantage over the rider next to you and long term fans of the sport have plenty here to keep them entertained. The track editor should also help keep the game feeling fresh as new content is uploaded and new challenges are set.