There are customisations up to the eyeballs, a control system that feels fluid and smooth despite a complete lack of safety wheels and a licensed catalogue of parts and clothing thick enough to kill a man. This is a game that understands its prime audience extraordinarily well and for that it should be applauded, but this is definitely not a safe place for anybody who isn’t a Supercross scholar.
Monster Energy Supercross is aimed solely at one rather niche, very passionate demographic, showering them in every design, brand and real-world sponsor they could ask for, which is great. I on the other hand know nothing about Motocross. I’m used to races between shells, mushrooms and familiar Italian plumbers, a thumb fused to ignition. This is not my world, nor will it ever be, but the sheer scope of Monster Energy Supercross is obviously miles ahead of the competition.
Immediately you’re thrusted into a “tutorial” as Ryan Dungey in his first race, which boils down to a floundering, furious attempt to get to grips with the controls listed to the side of the screen, tiny and unhelpful. Of course those experienced will dart off with the rest of the herd the second the gates drop, I confidently shuttled into a wall of sandbags. Graciously, Monster Energy Supercross features a rewind feature and a robust one at that. A staple of the genre, this feature allows you to rewind the race at any time, even able to pick the exact fraction of the moment you’d screwed up. You’d think that such a power would be an unfair advantage, but it’s an essential tool on the unforgiving mud and curves of a track as you often hurtle into oblivion in new stadiums you’re unfamiliar with, a safety net more than an infallible trick.
Playable are a whole host of Supercross’ finest alongside the option to customise your own character, right down to the lettering of your name. You can deck out your character with a vast and plentiful catalogue of helmets, boots, suits, goggles and neck braces. All are from real companies, allowing players to represent their brand of choice with deep cosmetic customisation. But that’s only the character, the bikes themselves can be meticulously customised to an almost painful degree visually, and more importantly, mechanically.
There are two bikes for each brand, able to pick one at the beginning with the rest to be unlocked later. Covering Honda, Kawasaki, Husqvarna, Suzuki, Yamaha and KTM, each with a 250 and more powerful 450 version, customisable with 4 slots for different configurations, which offers a whopping 48 bikes to tinker with. Handle bar customisation is purely cosmetic, but branded suspension, exhausts, rims, tyres and brake disks all effect handling, speed and weight, really changing how these bikes feel on the track. Players can build their rides to their own specifications with the well of options running so deep it’s easy to drown, and that’s perfect.
Beyond components there are yet more visual enhancements through branded graphic kits with a handful of base options for each of the 12 bike models alongside sponsorship liveries, the components themselves, right down to the nipples (tee hee) can be coloured any which way as well. Of course you’ll virtually have to become King Midas to afford all the trimmings and alterations, which in itself is an attainable in-game achievement, which keeps you racing and earning as you climb and fall the ranks.
Racing itself feels smooth, except when it doesn’t. Learning to drift around bends and careen through the air, considering weight and biker position as you’re landing takes a lot of getting used to, as do the malleable nuances within your own custom bikes. It’s an addictive feeling to learn a track and nail the landings and turns, yet it feels a substantial tutorial or an optional mode to coach new players is missing. This is not an entry point, but a complex playground for diehard fans to blaze through and over other racers. A campaign mode casts you as a rising star, with a sort of Twitter-esque tab inbetween races where fans show support and sponsors connect with you. Respected Sportscaster Ralph Sheheen also commentates between matches, underlying just how critical authenticity is to Monster Energy Supercross.
An odd place where a tutorial does immerge is the equally deep track editor, which whilst saturated with parts and options, is far more intuitive than racing itself. Picking a stadium and then sifting through modules grants players a lot of variety in the kinds of tracks they want to create, with an ease of use that’s regrettably nowhere to be seen in other parts of the option-laden title. There are menus upon menus, option upon options before, in, out and in-between races, crushing anyone who thinks a Thunder Titanium might be a broom used by Harry Potter with exasperated confusion.
It can’t for be said for a moment that there isn’t a treasure trove here for any biker’s buck. There are customisations up to the eyeballs, a control system that feels fluid and smooth despite a complete lack of safety wheels and a licensed catalogue of parts and clothing thick enough to kill a man. This is a game that understands its prime audience extraordinarily well and for that it should be applauded, but this is definitely not a safe place for anybody who isn’t a Supercross scholar.
We were provided a copy of the game by its publisher for review purposes.