I used to play a game on the PS2 called MX Superfly. It was a motocross racing game that gave you two options – freestyle or racing. Prior to that, I’d not even considered the possibility that motocross racing was a thing. Thankfully, that game turned me around, and while I don’t actively follow it, I do enjoy the games when they come out. Monster Energy Supercross is the latest game from the sport, and it’s a big step forward for the genre.
Milestone, the developers, have spent a lot of time in making the game as stunning as possible. They’ve put stadia from around the United States in the game, and there isn’t a pixel out of place. When you sit on your bike, revving your engine, waiting for the bars to drop, you feel like you’re in the centre of a grand stage, with all eyes watching. From Anaheim to Tampa, all of the places you’ll ride in are perfectly mapped. Even the intro sequence before a race is a gorgeous set of events that perfectly displays everything I’d expect to see at an American sporting event – scantily clad women, fireworks and plenty of flashing lights. They’ve really not missed a thing with it. I also have to commend them on their choice of music for the game as well, it hits the mark perfectly, and sets me in the right mood for speeding around the muddy track.
Racing around is a challenging prospect, and definitely feels about as you’d expect it to, but there is one extra perk that really makes races fun. Accidents happen, that’s a given, but if you could rewind time a bit to erase the accident, then you’d be pretty happy with that right? Well, in Monster Energy Supercross, you absolutely can. This nifty little trick saved me from crashing numerous times at the start, and ended up helping me to win races near the end. If I took a bend a little too wide, then I could just rewind a bit and position myself better to take it more narrowly. If my body position was terrible heading into a jump, I could rewind and do it better. If I ran my bike into the crowd, killing eight people, then I just rewound and made sure to hit ten next time. It’s a remarkably useful little feature, and it’s probably one the finer ones in there.
Rewinding is one of the finer, but not the finest. The finest is the course creation mode, which is fantastic. I’ve always enjoyed creating my own courses – whether I’m building a race course in Micro Machines, or a skate park in Tony Hawks, I love it. In this game, there are some fantastic options for creating a race track. You can make it as difficult as you please, or as simple and easy as you like, if that’s your desire. Setting the course record is always fun, although what’s more fun is seeing other people ride your course and completely obliterate your time. It’s one of those things that shows that even if you’re a rubbish driver, you’re good at making courses.
While I do thoroughly enjoy the majority of what Monster Energy Supercross has to offer, it’s got some real howlers in there too. The worst, for me, being the lag in the gameplay. I will qualify that by saying it’s incredibly rare and doesn’t affect the majority of races, but the races it does crop up in are horrendous. There were quite a few times where I was coming up to a bump in the road, and I started to move my body to suit the obstacle, only for it to pause for a tenth of a second, then return while I was at the end of my motion. This caused me to be way off balance and fall off my bike. The few times I was actually leading and this happened to me, I actually ragequit. I felt completely cheated out of winning a race, and that was never a good thing.
There are also a few bugs or quirky features present in the game that lessened my enjoyment somewhat. The first one that I noticed was that the music was sticking, like a scratched CD, on the loading screen. It felt like every time it was doing some actual processing in the loading screen, you’d hear half a second of the song two or three times before it moved on. Not a major thing, but it was a bit jarring. Another thing that I found jarring was when I was being placed back into the race after veering off course slightly. It’s fairly unforgiving if you move off the track, even slightly, so that you are just maybe a metre from the side, it’ll start a countdown and yank you back, motionless, into the centre of the road. It’s obvious why they wanted to do that, but I really thought racing games had moved on beyond preventing players from straying too far from the road.
The Final Word
Monster Energy Supercross isn’t perfect, but it’s a very good racing game. It has some absolutely stunning stadia to view and some very challenging races to try to win. There are also a bunch of cool side-bits you can complete to round out your experience. All in all, it’s definitely a must-have for any racing fan.