If there’s one genre that Italian developer and publisher Milestone knows, it’s racing. Whether it be motorcycle or vehicle, on or off road, these folks routinely put out 1-2 quality racers a year. I’ll be the first to admit, I’m more of an arcade racing fan than simulation, which is why their games don’t usually catch my interest. Supercross games are different to say the least; with huge dirt tracks that fill baseball or football stadiums, big jumps and bigger wrecks. Monster Energy Supercross attempts to be the total package, with plenty of real life racers, bikes, accessories and locations. But a question remains, are you ready to trade in asphalt for the dirt track?
Play as some of the world’s most popular drivers or create your own and conquer dirt tracks across North America. Single player modes include: exhibition, time attack, career and championship. Customize your racer and bike with up to 300 officially licensed items. Create your own track with the in-game track editor. Lastly, online multiplayer for up to 12 players means potentially endless replay value.
Thankfully the Monster energy drink license is used well, nothing over the top like running over cans for speed boosts. You’re going to see the logo a lot, both on the track and in menus, but I didn’t mind. Energy drinks are embraced by many gamers worldwide, and I found it to be a license that not only suited the game, but made it stand out.
At it’s core, Monster Supercross is a racing game, not a stunt bike game. Your objective is to complete the required laps as fast as possible and beat the other racers. While you don’t perform tricks or manage a boost meter, there is a modern racing feature that made the game more enjoyable, rewind. Anyone who has played a recent racing game like Forza Morotsport knows that rewind allows you to pause the game, reverse your movement and try again if you make a mistake. It’s simple to perform in Monster Supercross and makes for much more enjoyable races. With many tight turns and big jumps, players must always be on-guard with both the gas and brake triggers. I absolutely loved how the vibrating triggers felt on the Xbox One controller, not intrusive or annoying, just enough to enhance the experience. If you run off track but don’t want to rewind, the game will respawn you after three seconds, and additionally there are point incentives for holeshotting, which is basically being the first one to pass through a designated spot on the track. It didn’t take me long to feel comfortable driving and thriving in all of the locations.
From the start you can play as 18 real-life riders such as: Zach Osborne, Adam Cianciarulo, Joey Savatgy and more. They all come with their licensed uniforms, helmets and bikes. In career mode you create your own driver and fight against these stars to earn racing glory. 17 different locations are available ranging from: Seattle, Las Vegas, Salt Lake City, even Daytona Beach. Each track has a different layout that makes them feel distinct and seeing officially licensed stadium names and logos only enhanced the experience. There are a variety of settings to choose from whether it be difficulty, weather, race length, assisted physics, transmission type and more. There is a lot of attention to detail that will satisfy casual and hardcore racing fans. As you gain skill and confidence, increasing the difficulty will provide more of a challenge.
I enjoyed starting off career mode on very easy difficulty, getting myself acquainted with the controls and the track layouts. Players who complete both the 250 West and 250 East will naturally move on to the 450 event. Completing races and fulfilling sponsor objectives earns you SX Credits, which are used to unlock new bike brands (Kawasaki, Honda, Suzuki and more are all here), upgrade your bike and unlock gear and mods. I was able to tweak even small details like handlebars, bar pad and even patches on the rider’s butt. Your profile has an overall level which increases as you complete races across all game modes. Leveling up unlocks new upgrades and items, which was a great incentive to keep playing.
Players who enjoy expressing their creativity will find a lot to tinker with in track editor mode. After choosing a general stadium layout, you’re given opens to add straights, jumps, curves, whoops and finish lines. These types of modes have never been my preference, but creative racing fans could potentially keep themselves in supply of fresh tracks for a long time. Lastly, there is an option for buyers to pay $10 USD more and get the season pass with the game. The content includes a credits multiplier, new tracksuits and icons.
I’m happy to report that Monster Energy Supercross is an Xbox One X enhanced game and has plenty of incredible looking moments. A photo mode is included, allowing you to: zoom, rotate and save your best memories. Unfortunately, while the game is best suited for Xbox One X, it seems to have performance issues on the original Xbox One; most notably the framerate and loading times. When a race begins, and all riders are clumped together, the game will slow down and actually stop momentarily every single time. Once the riders gain separation things tend to flow smoothly, until just before ending the race. Without fail, moments before crossing the finish line the final time, the framerate will hiccup and there will be a slight delay with original Xbox One. There have even been close races where I was worried I would blow the lead at the last moment due to dropped frames. It is easily my biggest gripe of the entire experience, followed by the lengthy loading times. Players can expect to wait upwards of 2 minutes for a level to load. I’m sure these issues are reduced significantly on Xbox One X, so keep that in mind if you own one.
The menus are stylish and easy to navigate, with the green hue of Monster Energy always present. Before the race begins, announcer Ralph Sheheen welcomes you to the event as fireworks go off and you make your grand entrance. Little details like this could have easily been scrapped for time or cost efficiency, but thankfully they weren’t. I would have preferred more oomph in the sound department, as the engine revs are lacking a bit. After a race is completed your character celebrates on the podium with the other winners. You see your rankings and times as the game adds up the SX credits you earned for that race. For the most part, moments during and after races are presented with great detail.
Before trying Monster Energy Supercross, I had little interest in anything to do with the sport. But the quality that Milestone Studios has shown makes me now eager to check out their back catalog. It’s safe to say that fans of supercross racing should have no hesitations buying Monster Energy Supercross. There was no corner cutting with licenses, characters or the amount of value included. The issues with framerate and lengthy load times bring my score down slightly; so feel free to add an additional point if you are an Xbox One X owner. There can be a lot of skepticism towards non-AAA full priced games, especially one licensed after an energy drink. Thankfully those worries do not apply to Monster Energy Supercross; it’s the total package of supercross games.