Italian developer Milestone S.r.l. is no stranger to racing games. Over the years they've found a successful niche by focusing on various racing leagues ranging from World Rally Championship to MotoGP. Lately, they've found their footing by creating dirt bike sims. Their latest, the officially licensed Monster Energy Supercross 2, brings so much mud and exhaust fumes to the table that you'd swear you were at a real-life event.
It's this very license that makes the game feel very different from the developer's other dirt bike racing title, MXGP. Rather than featuring the large outdoor tracks that dominate motocross racing circuits, players get to experience the smaller, more technical supercross tracks that take place inside arenas and stadiums. This isn't just a visual difference, as players have to focus more on optimizing their racing lines in order to have a successful race.
One aspect that Monster Energy Supercross 2 requires players to master is how they tackle a small series of jumps. A poor line can be the difference between first and last place. That means players have to learn to recognize a triple jump from a rhythm section. Beyond that, they'll have to adjust their rider's weight with the right analog stick to maintain balance while jumping. It all adds up to create a really satisfying core to the racing, even if some of the tracks can start to feel a bit samey when compared to how vibrant motocross courses are.
I spent the bulk of my time in the career mode, which allows players to create their own racer and then lead them to secure a supercross championship throughout a season. There's a decent sense of progression to be had here. Players have to start out by racing the less powerful 250cc bikes and then earn the right to ride for a 450cc team. Unfortunately, there simply isn't much to do beyond the actual racing. Milestone added in some events that players can do between races, such as gaining fans through promotional events or participating in training mini-games. In the end, these don't really add to the experience all that much. There isn't much to really purchase with your points or anything of note to unlock via your popularity unless you really want a specific outfit for your created rider.
Despite still being relatively bare-bones, the career mode does its job of getting the player into meaningful races. It's also where supercross' unique structure gets to shine. Races aren't run by finishing a set number of laps. Instead, each race goes for a set amount of time and then two laps beyond that. Making things even more unique, some contests on the schedule are "Triple Crown" events, which feature three individual races. This forces riders to be consistent in their finishes, as the best rider throughout the three will capture the championship. These are fun additions that stay true to the real sport and help the game feel more unique.
As mentioned above, supercross races can feel unfortunately repetitive after a while due to how similar the tracks can seem. Thankfully, there are some high points. I absolutely adored the Las Vegas track due to it being more open and feeling more like a motocross event. Sometimes, the tracks will be wet due to rain, which turns the solid dirt into slushy mud. This completely changes how the bikes handle. In the rain, the racing is sloppy, the bike is hard to control, and it's a total blast. Especially when played with the first-person camera.
There are a few things that keep the racing title from really reaching its full potential. First off, the presentation is pretty lackluster. It's a nice touch that they got racing legend Jeff Emig and broadcaster Ralph Sheheen to do some track introductions, but they totally disappear after racers begin. The bikes all sound good and remind me of my days of attending races myself. Still, some commentary would have been nice. There's also an occasional touch of lag that rears its ugly head. Hilariously, this actually works to the player's advantage as it always flares up as soon as the pyro goes off signifying the race has begun, which allows the player to always time the holeshot perfectly and get the lead early on.
Those small issues aside, there's a lot to like about Monster Energy Supercross 2. The actual racing feels great, and that's what matters. A lot of the faults, such as the lack of track variety, exist due to the constraints of the license. This same license is what makes this game special in the first place. This bike could still use another layer of polish, but any fan of supercross will find a lot to like here.
TechRaptor reviewed Monster Energy Supercross 2 on Xbox One with a code provided by the developers.
Staying true to the sport, Monster Energy Supercross 2 provides thrilling racing. However, it's a standard package with little that stands out beyond the riding itself.
- Fantastic Wet Tracks
- Intense First-Person Riding
- Unique Race Structure
- Limited Career Mode
- Lacking Presentation
- Occasional Lag