Monster Energy Supercross 2 Review – VROOM
Monster Energy Supercross 2 is the latest game featuring the license to the FIM-sanctioned AMA Supercross Championship, featuring over 80 riders competing in the 450SX and 250SX categories.
Monster Energy Supercross 2 is brought to you by Milestone, an Italian studio with a rich history of racing games. It offers individual races, competing for championships and a career mode, as well as two unique training modes.
But while all this sounds impressive, it’s wrapped up in a package that just doesn’t compete with most of the popular racing titles of today and it really lets down the sport of Supercross as a result.
Monster Energy Supercross 2 Review
The main issue with the races is that they often feel too crowded around such a narrow track. When you’re competing alongside 21 other riders and you’re all starting off on a straight line, it makes the launch window crucial.
It’s great that there’s a manual launch even if you’re playing with an automatic gear shift, as it gives full control as to when you’ll run out of the gates. But the launch window can literally make or break your race, as will the 30 seconds or so that come after it.
If you get off to a great start, you’ll have a free track in front of you and only the pressure of your own mistakes to worry about. However, if your start is poor, then you become locked in a battle with about a dozen or so other riders. In most races I played, I either got a good start and finished somewhere in the top five, or I had a poor start and ended up in last, 18th at best.
One technique that you’ll need to learn in order to master the game is the scrub, which is where the rider will lean into a corner to spend less time steering and also exit with a faster speed. To do this, the two thumbsticks need to be pushed in opposite directions; that is, if you want to turn sharp right, you would point the thumbsticks towards each other, and vice versa for a sharp left.
It can be tough to work out how much to press the sticks to scrub as if you do it too violently, your back wheel will kick out and your rider will wipe out, wasting precious seconds. Successful scrubs feels satisfying when you exit a corner faster than your rivals, but it’s very tricky to pull off.
I’d much prefer if the sticks were to be pushed in the same direction, rather than the opposite.
A visual aid, players can use to navigate the various mounds and bumps is a series of arrows which indicate the ideal trajectory to pass over. The idea is that the more time you spend in the air, the less time your wheels are planted to the ground and gaining speed. However, these arrows offer no indication as to whether you need to accelerate or brake in order to maintain the ideal line.
It can be a real momentum killer to misjudge an incoming jump, hit the front of an incline and watch another rider or two overtake you. What is worse than that, however, is that the game grades you for making successful jumps, and half the time I was being given a ‘perfect’ jump despite hardly coming close to clearing it.
It made learning the tracks very difficult, as I struggled to adapt to the ever-changing conditions at each circuit.
Supercross? More like super chaos…
During the race, the HUD doesn’t present a position, just a leaderboard. When the player accidentally leaves the track and respawns, dropping several places in the process, the leaderboard becomes unstable.
At one point when I was in fourth place before mistakenly taking a turn too wide, I saw about eight or nine other riders shoot off ahead of me. However, the leaderboard failed to keep up, and instead, the third-placed rider was also listed in fourth (as in you could see his name twice).
It was only after a few seconds once I respawned that I realised I had dropped down to 13th place.
At the beginning of the career, you’ll make your own custom rider. However, there is very little in the way of customisation, with only a select list of faces and no sliders to alter certain features. Also, there appears to be no option to create a female rider.
I also realised that there’s a strict eight-character limit for each of your names, meaning I couldn’t strap my rider with my real name and instead had to come up with an alias. But maybe that is a good thing, seeing as none of the preset faces looks anything like me.
In terms of accessorising your rider, only one item of each type is unlocked, so you’re stuck with the default outfit until you can scramble enough credits. The credits are accumulated so slowly compared to how much the items cost, that altering your rider’s appearance takes some time.
For example, racing suits start from 40,000 credits, and it took me five races plus promotional events to make up that much. And that’s before changing the helmet, boots and goggles. To get every item of your choice will take you quite a while.
The option to have up to four saved outfits is a nice idea so that you can easily swap out your rider’s gear, but the price of the items means it will take you some time to gather one full outfit, let alone four.
When you begin your career, you can ride in one of two classes and choose any manufacturer as you please, but aside from that, there isn’t much benefit to selecting any. Where the incentive lies – or where it should lie, rather – is through selecting a sponsor.
However, these have the disappointing effect of simply needing to fulfil certain criteria in exchange for a shiny new livery for your bike. That’s all it does, and it feels straight out of Codemasters’ Race Driver: Grid, a game released in 2008.
One of my sponsors was a low-end one where I was asked to finish at least 14th. In the fifth round of the season, I managed to earn a 7th place finish, yet Sheheen still described it as “a race [I] would rather forget quickly”. All up, Monster Energy Supercross 2 has a very primitive career mode that offers little incentive to continue playing.
Adding to a lack of incentives are the fan activities, which include promotional work for the Supercross brand, as well as meeting fans and speaking to the media. In all three respective instances, the activities are merely a short, silent cutscene where your rider poses by his bike, signs an autograph and is shown talking to a reporter.
It’s very dull and uninspired and leaves you wondering what the purpose of it all is, aside from the bonus credits you get for doing them. It would be much more interesting if the player actually got to answer questions from the media or mingle with fellow riders.
Indeed, the only ones that feel validating are the track-based ones, either the training drills or the challenges. But the training drills feel too much like a chore and are not an effective way of learning the advanced techniques necessary to attain faster lap times.
Not to mention, training drills have certain parameters which will automatically fail the rider. You only get five attempts at each one. You’ll be far better off messing around in the Compound (more on that later). The challenges, on the other hand, feel far more rewarding and is probably the best racing found in the game. You’ll either do a one-on-one challenge race with another driver of your choice or beat their top lap time. In either case, it feels more open than a regular race does, because it doesn’t feel crowded at all.
Ralph Sheheen and Jeff Emig feature on commentary, complete with all the bells and whistles of a motocross event, including a spectacular fireworks display. The commentary from Sheheen, in particular, is well delivered, but in saying that, there’s also a real lack of creativity behind him and Emig, with a majority of their lines failing to add a lot of depth to the game.
There’s also a lot of repeating lines, such as when my rider was making his entrance, Sheheen would mention: “The roar of the crowd is deafening as he enters the stadium. That has to pump him up.” This particular line played in roughly every second event I participated in, which got rather tiresome.
There’s also a lack of synergy between the events in the career mode and the commentary. Before every race, it was always a line of how excited my rider looks, not whether he can put aside his poor finish from last week (after a race where I finished last) or if I can claim back to back victories (following my win at Indianapolis).
One of the game’s greatest aspects is the Compound, a free roam environment with different terrains for navigation. The fairly solid gameplay combined with a fun world to explore make it a great place to learn some strategies. The Compound itself is small at first, but by completing drills in the career training mode, the world starts to open up.
It is a shame that the training drills themselves are a chore. But when all is said and done, the freedom offered inside the Compound probably makes it the most fun mode in the game.
Also, a neat feature within the game is the track editor, where players can create their own courses inside one of four stadiums. Building a track is very similar to games like TrackMania, where different components are able to be combined to make your own circuit. There are enough options here to make your course unique without making it too strenuous to put together, and it’s quite easy to build.
The downside is that the actual construction happens from a top-down 2D perspective, so it’s not easy to see just how much of an incline a certain piece has until you test the track out for yourself. When you’re happy with the track, you can upload it for others to add to their games.
The racing mechanics in Monster Energy Supercross 2 are good, but a little rough around the edges. It’s decent enough to play once you get the hang of its demanding mechanics. That said, it just doesn’t have a lot going for it as a whole package and it feels really weak for a 2019 game.
If it were a game made 10 years ago, it would have been adequate, but it feels so antiquated compared to the racing games of today that it just doesn’t offer as much value.
Monster Energy Supercross 2 was reviewed on PlayStation 4 with a digital code supplied by the publisher.
Game title: Monster Energy Supercross 2
Dated Mechanics - 5/10
Not very Rewarding - 4/10
Difficult to learn and master - 6/10