STAFF REVIEW of Monster Energy Supercross - The Official Videogame 2 (Xbox One)

Saturday, April 6, 2019.
by Chad Goodmurphy

Monster Energy Supercross - The Official Videogame 2 Box art Since the dawn of the motorized vehicle (car, truck or bike), people have been drawn to the thrill of racing them. While Nascar has thrived in the more traditional sense, motorcycle racing ventures also have devout followings. This includes not just ‘crotch rockets,’ but also the dirtbike variety and supercross itself. Every so often, the supercross circuit will turn massive baseball diamonds and both indoor and outdoor arenas into dirt-covered tracks, filled with bumps, humps and jumps.

The latest video game to portray this high-flying, adrenaline-fueled action is none other than Monster Energy Supercross - The Official Video Game 2. A mouthful to say the least, it’s the follow-up to a very similarly titled game that released last February to middling reviews. One that covers, and is made for fans of the Monster Energy Supercross circuit.

A good sequel builds upon what its predecessor established, by refining its strengths and improving its weaknesses. The goal is to release a notably better game than what came before it. With Monster Energy Supercross - The Official Video Game 2, the folks at Milestone have improved on their previous effort, but haven’t bettered things enough to make it stand out. The result is a game that is merely okay, and one that doesn’t have a lot of pressure to be better than it is, because there’s unfortunately so little competition in this subgenre.

Like the last game, Supercross 2 (as we’ll call it) is centres upon fast-paced dirtbike racing, in the professional sense. Thus, its events primarily take place within the confines of major cities’ arenas and stadiums. Places like Anaheim, Las Vegas, Seattle, St. Louis, Tampa, Minneapolis and St. Louis. The game’s central focus, which is none other than its career mode as one would expect, tasks the player with creating a rider and then traveling throughout this dirt-filled roadmap. This is done through three separate championship circuits: 250 East, 250 West and the 450 Tour, which comprises both of them and uses faster bikes to boot.

Last year, the career mode was pretty barebones, mostly consisting of just races, rider customization and a basic rivalry system that left a lot to be desired. This year’s iteration unfortunately isn’t a lot different, and still feels very basic and uninspired. To the developers’ credit, they did add a weekly, pre-race schedule to worry about, alongside some training minigames that reminded me of FIFA’s loading screen practice drills. However, these engagements are nothing to write home about, and there aren’t many of them. Hell, every week’s schedule can be made to consist of nothing but cutscenes, making up PR appearances, fan engagements and media days. Note that all of these animations are the same throughout, with only your rider’s gear and bike changing, if you’ve bothered to make an adjustment.

In addition to those established career options, this sequel adds two other weekly, pre-race engagements. One is training, which I mentioned above, and it consists of things like cornering speed, starting speed and jump accuracy drills. The other is a challenge mode, wherein one can challenge the ghost of another racer (ideally a rival) to a time attack ‘race’ in what is essentially a farmer’s transformed cornfield. Needless to say, there’s not a lot on offer here, and while the attempt is appreciated, it doesn’t help things much.

As is always the case, players also have the opportunity to set up their own tournaments, play one-off races, engage in time trials or visit the compound, which is a glorified practice area. An added plus here is that the compound offers more than one track this time around, but the others need to be unlocked before they can be used for practice, or for events.

If none of those things interest you, you can also head online and play on Xbox Live. I was able to find a game without too much difficulty, but got the impression that the community isn’t massive. The online gameplay also performed rather well, offering a few, slightly varied race options.

As they dabble in this middling and unfortunately brief list of modes, players will earn experience points, which will accumulate and allow them to reach new rider levels. Only the most hardcore Supercross 2 players will get the most out of this mechanic, though, because it takes a while to level up and one can increase his or her level until the option to prestige becomes available. At least, that’s how it seems from what I’ve read. I never got close.

Earning experience points leads to unlocks, and that’s the major incentive to do so. You’ll find more suits, helmets, boots, goggles and neck protectors in the shop. Things cost a lot of in-game money, though, so don’t expect to be able to buy a lot of things unless you play for a while. New bikes are especially expensive.

The above will certainly be of interest, and benefit, those who care a lot about customization. I’m not like that, though, and generally don’t worry too much about it. Thus, I didn’t bother with the shops too much, or become enthused about trying to unlock certain gear. I maybe would have if the gameplay was more exciting, but it is (unfortunately) pretty mediocre.

There are building blocks for a rather good racing game here, but like its predecessor (and some other Milestone titles, of which there are quite a few), Monster Energy Supercross - The Official Video Game 2 feels rushed and dated. I hate saying this, because I don’t like being negative towards smaller companies, but I had more fun with such games on the PS2, even the Xbox 360 and PS3.

The racing found within this title is okay, but there’s nothing special about it. The developers have tried to create gameplay that can be adjusted to fit each player’s skill, but their core mechanics suffer from the same problems that existed last time around. The physics are a bit better, but still remain frustrating and unpredictable, leading to random crashes and even difficulty steering. The AI and difficulty levels can also be quite severe and unforgiving, which is why I’ve been playing on easy. Furthermore, the controls leave something to be desired, because they’re simply not tight enough.

Having the ability to create, use and share your own tracks is a definite plus, but the new track creator is perhaps even less user friendly than the last one. Others have created some pretty good tracks, though.

On the presentation side of things, this is once again a middling affair. Like the other Milestone games I’ve played within the last couple of years, Supercross 2 looks and feels dated. It does the job, but doesn’t really showcase the sport as well as it could, nor does it feel as fast as it should. There are also some lengthy load times, as well as some visual and frame rate hiccups, but nothing too major.

The music is heavy, pretty loud and punk heavy. None of the songs were familiar to me, but there were a couple that I liked. It surprised me when I discovered that they were licensed songs from bands like Good Riddance, Sick of it All and NOFX. Said music drowns out the half-decent sound effects, though that can surely be adjusted if one wishes to do so.

As someone who enjoys this genre, and always has, I wish that Milestone could strike gold and usher in a new heyday of off-road racing games. They have some building blocks in place, but need to try to take more time with their games and polish them more before release. Monster Energy Supercross - The Official Video Game 2 is hurt by this lack of polish, as well as some dated mechanics and middling gameplay, leaving it a mediocre racer overall.

**We were provided with a review code.**

Overall: 5.8 / 10
Gameplay: 5.6 / 10
Visuals: 5.9 / 10
Sound: 6.0 / 10


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