Milestone really are the best in the business when it comes to making motor bike centric video games. Whether it’s the hilly racing of MGXP or the realistic simulation in the Ride franchise, they’re a developer that’s helmet and shoulders above everyone else competing in the genre. They’ve even had some success of the 4 wheeled variety too. Returning for a third time in the series, here they’re bringing to virtual life the mud splattered racing in Monster Energy Supercross 3 and it’s a fun ride, even for those who’re not aux fait with Supercross like I.
If Monster Energy Supercross 3 has taught me anything, it’s a new appreciation for Supercross racers and the skills they use to make the sport look so easy. You see these men and women flying over washboard bumps and triple jumps and it looks so fun, but in reality, it takes rhythm, measured speed and physical prowess to throw yourself around these courses without landing in Row Z of the stadium. That’s something that Supercross 3 replicates in its general game play. The movement both on ground and in-air have been revamped since the last instalment and it’s weighty yet equally responsive here. Unlike in other games where you can just keep your finger on the accelerator and alter your directions mid jump if you’ve overshot, here you’ve got to move with precision and purpose. With the left sick of the controlling your bike direction and the right stick shifting your weight, you’re got to utilise both to gauge jumps, stay speedy over humps and stick the landings on the right side of the ramps. This can take a whole lot of getting used to and isn’t immediately intuitive, somewhat hampered by a tutorial that’s little more than “This is what you can do, go and play”. Once you get the hang of it though, it’s a real joy to play. This game gives a great feeling of satisfaction after landing even the easiest of jumps because there’s very little room for error.
Thankfully, Monster Energy Supercross 3 has a little trick up its sleeve to help you during the learning curve – a rewind function. While you’re learning, inevitably totally messing up a section and end up eating dirt, a quick tap on the bumper freezes play and you can rewind all the action to a point where you’re happy with. Press play and you get another stab at it. In the career and solo modes of the game, you get an infinite number of these rewinds to use so you can get used to the track.
You do get rewarded not for using the rewind function however. Monster Energy Supercross 3 has a credits and experience system that rewards you for certain actions. Place highly in a race and you’ll get a nice boost but similarly you get rewards for simply completing laps and even more so for completing a lap without using the rewind function. You also get rewards for taking sections and jumps well. Speed over washboard humps and taken the best route through a series of jumps (there’s a guide which can show you the best path to take should you wish to use it) and you’ll also get a bump in credits. The credits you earn can be used to purchase official gear and kit for your rider and bike from the in-game store.
For the first time in the Monster Energy Supercross series, the create-a-character allows you to choose your body type. This opens the door to creating female racers for the first time. The customisation options in the game are great so you can give your rider their own look that’ll be on display before each race and on the podium after a race should you manage to place. Of course, if you want to wear someone else’s boots, you can select from a whole host of real world racers from official teams.
Those teams play a bigger role in the Career mode this time around, the mode in which you’ll likely spend most of your time. The East and West coast 250 leagues are here alongside the USA country wide 450 league and you’ll be competing in standard races and triple crown events too. After a try out race, sponsors and teams can approach and sign you with certain expectations. Signing up with the Official teams also opens up the opportunities to unlock exclusive gear which you can wear during any of the modes. While the Career mode isn’t quite as fleshed out as other sports games – i.e. you won’t be rubbing shoulders with greats of the sports during cut scenes – it’s focused on the racing and points scores and for those who want a streamlined experience, this’ll be for you.
No matter what team you choose though, Monster Energy Supercross 3 does a fantastic job of bringing those big stadium races to life. The crowd noise (and groans when you hit the dirt), track degradation, puddle reflections and overall visuals give the game an excellent feeling of realism while maintaining that grandiose feeling that comes from an event where certain ramps shoot out fire when you race over them. While this game isn’t a graphical powerhouse, it still looks and sounds great. Each of the stadiums across the USA have their own feel but still feel uniformed too.
Outside of the Career mode, there’s a number of other single player mode to play too. Of course you can partake in full race weekends with your favourite racer on any of the stadiums across the States if that tickles your fancy but the real star of the show here is the Challenge mode. Here your riding skills are put to the test by pitting you against certain objectives like going through gates laid out on a track or by taking a series of jumps at exactly the right speed and pitch. You’re scored in stars with 3 being your top marks which can be a real test on some of the more creative challenges – i.e. When gates are laid out across the track in places that are unusual spots to find yourself in.
There’s also the returning track creator which is extensive and incredibly versatile. It’s surprisingly easy to use too, enabling you to throw together a tricky track in a few moments. Once you’re happy with it, you can share it online for others to download. There’s some truly inspired arenas on there already as well as some cheeky “XP building” tracks should you want to level up and unlock gear quickly. Nudge nudge.
Lastly, there’s the online mode which, for the first time in the series, includes dedicated servers. Unfortunately, there wasn’t much of a community to race against during my review period so I was able to get a single solitary match under my belt. It ran smoothly and felt just as though I was racing against the AI offline. No issues whatsoever but time will tell whether this continues post launch.
In reference to the AI, the other racers you’re pitted against while playing single player are pretty savage. Even on Very Easy (a mode I’d urge anyone to start on until you’ve found your feet) you can end up more than half a lap behind if you take a few sections of a track badly. The main difference between the difficulty modes seems to be the number of mistakes your opposition makes which deeply effects how quickly they can get around the track. Unfortunately, the inadequacies in the AI sometimes comes out in the user created tracks as you strangely have the entire field just queuing to get over a jump. It’s rare this happens but it’s still quite odd.
Even for someone who’s a casual observer of Supercross, Monster Energy Supercross 3 is quite a joy ride. It’s feature full, fun to play and deeply gratifying when things come together. There’s a steep learning curve, somewhat hampered by a tutorial that expects you to know the ins and outs of a Supercross track from the get go but once you’ve got the hang of it, you can get a lot out of it. Personally, I’d have like to have seen a bit more personality in the Career mode but the Challenge mode and the track creator more than make up for this. Milestone have proven again why they’re the masters of virtual racing on 2 wheels. Even if this does require plenty of practice.
Monster Energy Supercross 3 is launching on the Xbox One (Review Version), PS4, PC and Nintendo Switch.
Developer: Milestone slr
Publisher: Milestone slr
Disclaimer: In order to complete this review, we were provided with a promotional code from the publisher. For our full review policy, please go here.
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