Monster Energy Supercross is a solid representation of a developer taking a niche subject and pulling out all the stops for dedicated fans.
Boasting a strong physics system to silky smooth visuals, Monster Energy Supercross builds upon strong systems in place from previous iterations and sprinkles in innovation from other sports titles to make for a fun release with plenty of crossover appeal to other racers.
Whilst this isn’t a particularly difficult title, the skill ceiling is certainly high for players that want to push the physics engine and their skills to the limit. For players with more creative inclinations, the game also boasts a map creator with all the features one would reasonably expect from such a title (more on that later!).
This game is a strong departure from others in the genre. Whilst in most racing games players can casually ram their vehicles into each other all day long, a slight slip up here will send you flying. This shouldn’t be all that surprising considering players are riding a motorcycle, but compared to most racing games on the market this dose of reality is certainly refreshing.
Players will not only worry about crashing out on tricky courses. One stick controls the bike itself, another stick controls the movement of the on-screen rider. Once you get into the swing of this unique control system you can pull of some stunning tricks, but this will take some practice and isn’t immediately accessible.
As is standard in modern racing games, assist options are on hand to help players who want a more casual experience. The career mode acts as your training wheels here, easing you into the gameplay and to quit relying on the built-in assistance options.
Realistically this is a simple game to pick up and play regardless of your familiarity with the sport. The physics and hit detection can be spotty at times, but the reliably smooth frame rate adequately compensates for this and helps the player feel in control.
As one would expect for supercross, most courses and absolutely filthy and full of mud. In this regard, the developer has done a stunning job in accurately depicting mud. Great!
This means the player can kick up mud all day long, steadily making a right mess of track itself and turning it into something reminiscent of the western front. The sense of immersion surrounding the action on the track is boosted by what feels like a gigantic stadium on each side, though don’t pay too much attention to the figures in the crowd, as these look a little less than realistic.
The game struggles during a handful of cutscenes players get before and after a race. If you place poorly, for example, you’ll be presented with a cutscene of your driver looking somewhat upset. This is totally understandable, though this animation could easily have been pulled from a game circa 2006.
Iffy animation aside, the real core of the game on the track is bang on for night or day, rain, or clear skies. This isn’t a game that plays up the announcers or any narrator, and this will be welcomed by players who prefer a developer spending the majority of their time on true-to-life gameplay instead of the superficial items alongside it.
In particular, this game really is keen on the track creator.
Whilst most racing games have yielded a track editor for years, this isn’t a basic offering where a player just slaps down points on a grid and then rides around it. This is a thoughtful addition where players pick a start point and can do what they want, from dramatic rollercoaster turns to flying across bridges to wherever they fancy. For the cherry on top, the player is also free to mess with the track surroundings to their heart’s content.
As is expected in 2018, players can upload their creations online for the community at large, allowing for a wild range of all sorts of courses catering to every kind of player.
The bog standard career mode is a basic offering, running through several classifications and featuring a total of 17 tracks from the 2017 Supercross season. If this sounds short on content the developers have some DLC courses in the works for you to get your gloves on.
Curiously, this is the first time the series has leaned on a different engine for physics. This time around the developers have used Unreal Engine 4, offering a much different experience than past iterations, so I’ve been told. I did notice some iffy clipping issues with the player model, though one would expect these teething problems to be picked up on in following patches.
Considering the relatively small crowd that follows Supercross compared to other sports, this is a remarkably well put together title, easily befitting a sport with a much wider and more demanding following. Whilst aspects of the game are touch and go, there’s enough here to keep Monster Energy Supercross rolling for some time.
Even if you haven’t got a clue about Supercross, this is still a fun racer. Whilst the graphics can be a bit dodgy at the times, and the crowd details borderline nostalgic, there’s enough here to let a casual racing enthusiast enjoy themselves, with many thanks going towards the most impressive physics engine. Indeed where this game slips up on graphics, the gameplay is certainly bang on and will more than distract from any visual aberrations.
Frankly, this is actually rather refreshing. At a time when most racing games all feel rather samey, and chase “realistic” graphics, a game that focusses on the core physics and racing experience will certainly be appreciated. No doubt players will relish in causing a real mess and knocking their mates over, and this game certainly encourages that. Even if you aren’t familiar with Supercross, give this one a spin!