We were surprised when we first learned Milestone were taking on another licensed bike videogame with the announcement of Monster Energy Supercross – The Official Videogame in late 2017. The newly born Supercross series saw its first release the very next year alongside the latest entries in the veteran MotoGP and the younger MXGP series to firmly cement Milestone’s ownership of the motorbike videogame genre.
After a promising debut, the officially licensed Supercross game is back with its second venture into the world of American motorcycle racing. Can the sequel expand and improve upon the original to become one of the best dirt motorbike racers ever released? Let’s find out.
Rigid rider removed, rejoice!
It’s clear to see Milestone has put a lot of resources into making the bikes feel more authentic. Gone is the stiff rider and in its place, a feeling like a rider and a bike are two separate beings.
Supercross is a very technical sport – each jump needs to be mastered if you want quick lap times. Fortunately, the process of learning tracks is mostly fun thanks to the depth in the bike handling found in both Normal and Advanced physics settings. However, there will be a fairly steep learning curve to newcomers despite the game offering several aids: you’ve been warned.
You control the bike with the left stick reserving the right for rider weight. Utilising your rider’s weight as you negotiate obstacles is key – especially when jumping triples, exiting tabletops or negotiating the various “whoops” sections which are more challenging than ever before.
Unfortunately, there is a tendency for bikes to understeer when tackling 180 degree turns which can test your patience at times.
Sight for soiled eyes
Thanks to the looser rider and improved bike physics the game looks more realistic and fluid than before – this is particularly impressive under wet conditions. The lighting has undergone improvements too: the once poorly lit tracks are now illuminated with brilliance. Each of the title’s 17 tracks is brought to life with introductions from TV commentators to the backdrop of a colourful pyrotechnics showcase.
Stadiums are generally well realised although I’d still like to see a little more trackside detail. The frame rate was solid enough although some minor dips were observed on a standard PlayStation 4. Sadly, the awkward stutter when the gate first drops at the start of each race remains from the first title.
Bikes sound more aggressive and throaty than found in the original and are accompanied with cheering crowds, background music, and a blaring stadium announcer to provide an impressively convincing atmosphere.
You begin the career mode racing the 250cc bikes in the half-season long East or West competitions before moving up to the 450cc championship which utilises the full roster of tracks.
Each week you’ll fill out your rider’s schedule with training and challenge events as well as promotional activities and media days. Training is generally divided into very short sequences which are challenging and engaging enough to keep you coming back, whereas challenges will see you trying to better a rival’s lap time.
The promotional and media days consist of 5-second long sequences showing your rider posing or talking to the media which in turn grants you money and fame respectively.
You can create your own rider with a choice of a dozen faces as well as a range of branded accessories from helmets, suits and boots to those all-important butt patches. You also have the option to purchase the newly added celebration animations.
Bikes can be customised with performance-enhancing exhausts, wheels and tyre upgrades as well cosmetically with a selection of handlebars, handle guards and saddles. Decorative bike liveries can also be purchased from several brands and you can colour individual bike components too.
Customising your bike comes at a hefty cost – this is not a criticism either. In previous Milestone titles, we’ve been able to fully upgrade our bikes too early in the season – this is no longer the case. You really have to earn each and every upgrade making them all the more special.
Muddy the waters
The training area known as “The Compound” returns in the sequel as part of the base game this time around. It hosts a total of four practice tracks (unlocked via the career) as well as various environmental obstacles and a smattering of ramps and wooden structures for you to navigate at your leisure. The Compound provides a welcome change of pace to the career mode and is good for a bit of light-hearted fun.
The track editor returns bigger than ever thanks to additional track segments. Once you’ve chosen your stadium from a choice of 4 (indoor and outdoor), you can begin to piece together your own dream track. Once complete you can upload and share it with the world.
Elsewhere, the title offers the usual single event and time trials modes. The game also gives you the chance to craft your own championships consisting of between 4-17 rounds via its Championship mode.
Sadly the game is really let down with its online component at launch. In its current state riders can be seen lagging all over the place leading to many frustrating moments as you’re inevitably bumped off your bike or indeed the track thanks to some overly sensitive collisions.
To compound these problems the gameplay often stutters leading you to easily misjudge a turn or jump which again can lead to some very infuriating moments. Currently, the online component is a mess and is best avoided until the game has undergone some patches to help improve the experience.
Monster Energy Supercross 2 does a lot of things right. The game has seen improvements in bike audio, the visuals are looking crisper than before, and the riders are far less stiff this time around which leads to mostly satisfying gameplay.
The track editor and Compound completes a decently sized package, however, the scrubs still feel as clumsy as ever, the tutorials could be more welcoming to newcomers, bikes tend to understeer around turns and the online portion of the title is woefully poor taking the shine off this otherwise very solid Supercross title.
- Improved physics
- Authentic atmosphere
- Impressive visuals
- Understeering bikes
- Clumsy scrubs
- Woeful online experience
- Unwelcoming for newcomers
Monster Energy Supercross 2 has seen improvements in bike audio, the visuals are looking crisper than before, and the riders are far less stiff this time around leading to mostly satisfying gameplay.
However, the scrubs still feel as clumsy as ever, the tutorials could be better, bikes tend to understeer around turns and the online portion of the title is woefully poor taking the shine off this otherwise very solid Supercross title.