The fourth entry into the Monster Energy Supercross series is claimed to become the best version of any motocross game currently available on the market. These are some pretty bold claims, so how does it size up?
Monster Energy Supercross - The Official Videogame 4 brings that awesome pre-race excitement that is so popular in the United States, just some good fireworks and off you go. For this iteration, we must thank its creator, Milestone, as it offers players more variety and several customisation options worthy of note. All the official tracks of the tournament from the 11 corresponding stadiums are present, including Salt Lake City 7.
To be honest, the best aspect of the game for me was the aforementioned amount of customisation options. With track and riders' editors, petrol heads and mechanics lovers will spend hours fine tuning their bike.
The track editor allows us to create a customised track by combining all kinds of challenges: small or big jumps, open or closed curves, straights for maximum speed... everything is moldable to our way of understanding supercross. However, first of all you have to complete a rather boring and monotonous tutorial.
Regarding the rider editor, it is more or less the same, as it offers a plethora of options with more than 110 official brands of the championship. You can tweak absolutely everything, including changing the pipes, the brakes, the handlebars, and of course the graphic designs and colours that represent your character.
The roaring of the engines and the sound of the stadiums will be enough to put you in the shoes of a rider. The pre-event and rider introductions look good enough, depending on the circuit where the event is held.
Once you get into the gameplay of Monster Energy Supercross - The Official Videogame 4, we recommend you grab your handlebar firmly. If anyone thinks that the basis of the experience is to speed up and slow down (RT and LT), they shouldn't buy the game. With a combination of clutching (LB) and speeding up at the perfect time, getting out of the starting grid shouldn't be difficult to achieve.
The most important command, though, and the one that can causes us the bigger headaches, is to balance the position of the rider's body. With the right stick of the controller (RS), we have to alternate the position of our rider according to the characteristics of the circuit. For example, depending on the type of jump, you will have to pull your body backwards to get more height, or forwards if you want to go more metres forward.
Consequently, the most difficult aspect of the game is to control the receptions of the bike, which also depend on the rider's body position. Until you learn how to get the rider and the vehicle to be in harmony, the number of falls will be very high. It can be frustrating for the first few days, but then you will start to enjoy it.
In my opinion, the gameplay modes fall short, but let's keep in mind that the multiplayer mode was not yet available for our tests. However, in the final version of the game, the combination of online racing and user-created tracks will expand the range of options and, especially, the potential hours of gameplay.
We have to admit that without its online mode, Monster Energy Supercross 4's lifespan is rather limited. The career mode is indeed improved, while training and special events break the monotony of the classic career modes, but the addition of the new "Futures" category is a bit of a hoax. The first season features 3 races only. In my case I finished at the bottom of the board, and yet you get offers from teams of the next category, 250SX. No matter how good you are, you'll find job offers to make the jump to the next category. What kind of sane person would offer a contract offer to such a lump?
The skill tree is important to improve our rider, and the in-game improvements we give him are really noticeable. But I won't be fooling anyone if I say that I found it too superficial and lacking in depth, with only six basic paths to take.
The new Maine Island location allows you to drive without any restrictions and to traverse a rather unspectacular island. If you had pictured this mode as a sort of GTA, where you can drive wherever you want, I'm sorry to ruin your expectations. You can drive freely, yes, but following some sort of scripted routes that you can spot on the left side of the map. If you go crazy trying to reach any unavailable location, the game will automatically reset your route.
When playing this title on a basic Xbox One, the graphics are not really remarkable. On the other hand, the tracks are well represented and the skid marks in the mud are clearly visible. I'm sure that on PC the stadium life looks different. On this console we are not able to differentiate between people in the crowd, as they are part of a big mass that behaves in the same way.
As I said, we're still waiting to see how the online modes are implemented. However, Monster Energy Supercross - The Official Videogame 4 can already give you a few skids and whips to enjoy for a few days. In my opinion, once you finish the career mode, the game feels a bit incomplete. I'm sure playing online will increase the lifespan of this game and create a nice community with players sharing track designs and testing them.
For users who have no experience with motorbike games or simply haven't played any of the previous three Supercross games, I don't recommend buying the game immediately. The reason is that you're going to feel like you've wasted £49.99, which is the starting price, after experiencing the constant frustrations and crashes at the beginning of the game. For mechanics lovers and petrol heads, though, it can be a fresh alternative to well-known franchises such as F1, MotoGP, Forza, Gran Turismo, and so on.