Another year has passed, bringing with it a brand new game based on the energy drink-sponsored supercross championship. That is, Monster Energy Supercross: The Official Videogame 3, which turns the real-life motorbike racing circuit into an interactive experience for fans and newcomers alike. This has unexpectedly become a yearly thing, like the numerous other sports games we get on an annual basis.
The question at heart here is: How does this year’s iteration compare to the previous two? Also: Is it worth purchasing if you’ve already bought at least one of those games? The answer is that, while what you’ll find here has seen some changes and adjustments, it’s mostly the same type of middling thing you got before. There are new riders, physics, tracks and the like, but things don’t feel terribly different from, or much better than they did in Monster Energy Supercross: The Official Videogame 2. I also had less fun this time around, because there’s still a noticeable lack of variety to be found, and things are getting repetitive. Not that the same thing wasn’t starting to happen part-way through my time with the last game.
This time around, the official 2019 season of AMA Monster Energy Supercross racing is presented for one’s controller-based participation, allowing fans to race against their favourite riders as a custom character. As was the case with the previous two games, the included list of tracks is slightly different because they are changed and updated for each new year. For example, Toronto was featured as a playable destination in the original, but has not appeared in the two since. I don’t follow the sport in real life, so I don’t know why it was dropped, but it apparently was. Familiar locations do return, though, in a list that includes Seattle, Las Vegas, East Rutherford, Anaheim (1 and 2), Atlanta, Nashville, Daytona, Detroit and Arlington. Due to the nature of the sport, and things that aren’t really within its control, said tracks also tend to blend together and become repetitive. It’s hard to blame this on the developers, though, because they were tasked with recreating a real experience, and couldn’t exactly take creative liberty with the tracks.
That said, there is a track editor, which returns for the third consecutive year. As was the case last year, it’s been changed and updated, offering a new camera and some other helpful features. It’s not the best track creator ever designed, but it does the job and isn’t too difficult to get the hang of. It’s also where a lot of the replay value comes from, because being able to play and vote on others’ creations provides freedom that doesn’t exist in the structured set of courses from the real life circuit. I enjoy playing others’ tracks, but do not enjoy making my own, because I’ve never been a creative person and just don’t have the skills or patience for it.
Career mode was highlighted in pre-release promotional materials, as being something that had received a lot of attention, and been bettered as a result. This had me hopeful that we’d actually get a good one, because the last two were pretty dismal, and offered almost nothing outside of the actual races. Sure, you could complete some challenges and watch the same media day and fan signing videos over and over again for extra points, but it was all bland, repetitive and boring. Thankfully, those are gone, and have been replaced by team days where you compete against other members of your sponsor’s stable of riders. It’s an improvement, but it still lacks variety or excitement. The career is relatively lengthy, too, given that one must win the 250 East, 250 West and combined 450 circuits in order to technically complete it.
Appreciably, female riders have also been added, and can be used within said mode. This is the first time they’ve been made available, and it shows, because their character creation suite is pretty lacking. I couldn’t even find the option to change one’s hairstyle. That said, folks should never expect a great character creation mode from one of these games. They’ve never been great, and the riders’ faces are hidden by helmets anyways, except for when they accept rewards on the podium, via slightly better animations.
Also worth noting: The introductory animations (for each race) have been improved, and are definitely better.
In a game like this, the most important aspect of customization comes in being able to buy and equip different suits, helmets, goggles and boots for one’s created rider, along with different decals for one’s chosen bike. This game offers a lot of sponsored gear, but much of it is quite expensive and can take a while to unlock. It’s also tough to get their names and numbers to look as nice as they do on official riders’ gear, because the font and style options are limited.
Funnily enough, the amount of achievement points earned for creating a rider differs depending on the gender. You can earn more (15) for making a male rider than (10) for making a female rider. It’s an odd and questionable decision, or oversight. Then again, achievements don’t matter.
Outside of career mode, one can partake in single events, custom championships, time trials and some challenges. It is also possible to practice within the Compound, which allows for co-op play with friends. Of course, there’s also online play, as there was in the two previous games, and it’s something that is aided by the track editor. This time around, players can direct races (by picking the starting gate, awarding penalties and things like that), create custom lobbies, or play privately. It works, and does the job, and diehards will appreciate those positive changes and additions.
That said, there’s still a lack of variety. I know that the developers at Milestone S.R.i. are handicapped by having to adhere to the official license and the sport that it encapsulates, but it’d be great if they could somehow make more creative modes. Perhaps better challenges, or a trick mode? I don’t know if that’d be allowed, or possible, but it’d be nice. It’s 2020, but I still haven’t played a motocross or dirtbike racing game that’s been more fun than MX 2002 Featuring Ricky Carmichael, though Pure came close.
Most of all, though, what Monster Energy Supercross: The Official Videogame 3 needs is more polish. While its box and bullet points promote new additions and changes, including better physics, things still don’t feel all that realistic. I gave the previous two games some leniency, but it’s been three annual iterations with mediocre-at-best physics and racing now. It’s hard not to feel like these games are being rushed too much and suffering as a result.
Don’t get me wrong: The racing is relatively enjoyable, and once again offers accessible and more realistic physics modes, but it’s still nothing special. Crashes sometimes occur at random, and doing the same thing over and over again results in different outcomes. You may crash for no plausible reason one time, or land the same way three times and crash once, but be okay the next two times. Things feel faster, but they don’t necessarily feel much better.
This is also the type of game that looks better in screenshots than it does in action. That isn’t to say that Monster Energy Supercross: The Official Videogame 3 is hideous, because it’s not. It’s just not up to par with other sports or racing games, and hasn’t seen much improvement over the course of three years, leaving it feeling dated and a tad ugly in certain areas. The tracks look a bit better this time, but the riders themselves can vary in quality, especially the created ones. The female faces and hairstyles leave a lot to be desired, and stand out most negatively, but improvements were made in the camera angle and intro video departments.
The gameplay is pretty solid and free of issues, for the most part. It performs pretty well on the Xbox One X, and doesn’t seem to have much in the way of such problems. It’s not perfect, or flawless, though, as you can expect the odd hiccup here and there, as well as some lengthy loading times.
When it comes to audio, things are a mixed bag. The bikes sound pretty good, there’s very basic commentary in limited quantities (like at the start and end of races), and there’s music that most will probably want to mute. An awful, country-rap song was created just for this game, and is both featured in and the ruiner of a certain trailer. It’s embarrassingly bad.
At the end of the day, I can’t help but rate Monster Energy Supercross: The Official Videogame 3 lower than its predecessors. Despite its changes and bullet point improvements, I had more fun with last year’s game, and feel that the ‘improved’ physics aren’t enough of an improvement to recommend buying this if you bought the last one. Things feel a bit too fast, and maintaining speed while going over jumps is made more difficult because of them. Furthermore, things just feel too also-ran and repetitive, not to mention rushed, to really recommend this highly.
If you’re looking for a motorbike racing game, you’ll have some fun with this one, but will do yourself no favours if you expect it to wow you or be anything amazing.
This review is based on the Xbox One X version of the game, which we were provided with. We used our site’s Xbox One X to play it.
- Lots of tracks, thanks to the official circuit's and a track creator
- Can rate, download and play others' tracks
- Brings the sport to life for fans
- Lacks polish
- Feels too similar to previous games
- The physics and racing leave something to be desired