Thursday, February 7, 2019

Monster Energy Supercross: The Official Videogame 2 Review (XONE)

I loved 2018's Monster Energy Supercross: The Official Videogame and said it was the best SX/MX game we'd had in years, so imagine my surprise when a "famous" gaming YouTuber put it on their list of the absolute worst games of the year. Who would you rather listen to, though - someone that has been to real supercross events and understands the sport, or someone who repeatedly crashed on purpose "for the lulz" and then said the game sucks? Sorry to rant, but that whole thing just really annoyed me. Now we're on to 2019 and Milestone's second crack at an official supercross game with the aptly titled Monster Energy Supercross: The Official Videogame 2. Monster Energy Supercross 2 doesn't change much from the first game but adds an extra year of polish to pretty easily stand as the new king of MX/SX games. Continue reading our full Xbox One Monster Energy Supercross: The Official Videogame 2 review for all of the details.

Game Details

  • Publisher: Milestone
  • Developer: Milestone
  • ESRB Rating: "E" for Everyone
  • Genre: Racing
  • Pros: Excellent gameplay; nice presentation; track editor
  • Cons: Load times; training 
  • Price: $60
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Energy Supercross 2 at
Monster Energy Supercross: The Official Videogame 2 features all of the events, riders, bike manufacturers, equipment sponsors, and pretty much everything else from the 2018 AMA Supercross 250SX and 450SX season. Why the 2018 season and not 2019? Because the 2019 season is happening right now (from January to May), silly. In addition to the official track layouts from the 2018 season, you can also use the fantastic track editor to create - or download other players' creations - and there are already great versions of the 2019 tracks available along with tons of unique courses.

Modes include single event, online multiplayer, a career mode where you create a new rider, a championship mode where you can play as a real rider, the aforementioned fantastic track editor, and a compound mode where you get to ride around a large open outdoor area for training. 

The career mode got the most work this year with the addition of events you can choose to take part in between races. These events include meeting with the media or fans, doing promotional work, training to learn to play better, and competitive events against rival riders. Unfortunately, this all kind of sucks and I don't really see the point. Training doesn't seem to do anything other than unlock more training - there is no on-track performance benefit that I can tell, anyway. Doing promotional work gives you extra XP and cash, which you need to unlock and purchase new customization items for your rider and bike, but you earn plenty just from racing. The rivalry system - likely inspired by Eli Tomac and Marvin Musquin's bar banging exchanges in the 2018 season - also doesn't seem to have much actual impact out on the track. All of this new fluff was clearly included to add some meat to the career and address criticisms that the first game was a little light on content but it just feels empty and pointless and doesn't really add much value.

Doing most of those side activities during the career is doubly annoying because the load times to get into the training or rival competition events are ridiculously long. The training sequences in particular are ridiculous because some of them only last, literally, 5 seconds but you wait through 30-60 seconds of loading before and after. The promo events have zero load times, so I ended up just doing those exclusively instead of training. Or I just skipped all of it entirely which, thankfully, is an option.

Load times overall are still an issue in Monster Energy Supercross 2, though they are actually improved quite a bit from the first game. I do want to say, though, that the menus and front end stuff is much better than the first game. The first game had really slow clunky menus, but things are much faster and easier to use in Monster Energy Supercross 2. 

The racing out on the track has been massaged a bit as well. The physics are not quite as floaty and bouncy so you don't fly off the track if you take a particularly bad line nearly as often as before. The core gameplay is still as solid as ever, though there is a bit of a learning curve as you figure out the best lines around the track. Learning how and when to use the clutch, lean through turns, and pre-loading your shocks to jump further off of jumps are vital things to learn if you want to keep up.

Every track is different, though, and riding a 250 or 450 feel very different from each other, so when you put all of these different variables together into a clean lap it is very satisfying. The key to the game is that you don't just go full throttle and jump as far as you can all of the time and learning the best way to get around each track is just an awesome feeling. I said it last year and I'll say it again, these games feel really good to play once you learn how to do so properly and are the best playing MX/SX games we've had in a long, long time. I also love the wealth of difficulty and handling options that are available, which ensures players of any skill level should be able to play and have fun.

One of the most appealing things about the first Monster Energy Supercross game was that it looked really, really great. Monster Energy Supercross 2 doesn't look quite as good, but the reason for that is easy to identify. In the first MES the stadium around the track was very dark, which made the riders and track really pop and look good. The first game also had extensive vignetting around the periphery of the screen, which gave the game a TV camera look. Monster Energy Supercross 2, on the other hand, features properly lit stadiums and no filters on the screen so it looks more like a normal racing game. It still looks very nice, though, thanks to highly detailed bikes and great looking dirt and mud. Without a doubt, the dirt and mud look much better this year. The framerate is much more stable this time around, too, even during the mad dash at the start of a race when everyone is crowded together in the first corner.

Sound-wise, Monster Energy Supercross 2 is pretty much the same as last year. The same monotone sounding 4-stroke engines and a new selection of butt rock. Not bad. Not great.

In the end, Monster Energy Supercross: The Official Videogame 2 is a solid follow-up to the surprisingly great first game. It plays a little better, looks a little worse but runs smoother, and has more content so overall it is a fine sequel and the new king of supercross games. If you're expecting wild over-the-top "xtreme" racing you won't find it here, but fans of the real sport will love it. Fans of real world AMA Supercross racing should definitely give Monster Energy Supercross: The Official Videogame 2 a look.
Disclosure: A review code was provided by the publisher.