What struck me immediately with Monster Energy Supercross – The Official Videogame 3 – the latest in a line of Monster Energy Supercross games – was that speed isn’t what wins races in this sport. It is rare if your bike achieves a speed over 60mph. Instead they are far more technical, and riders need to find the best lines to take on the berms and jumps; as a complete newcomer to the series – I had to as well. But first, there was the rider creation to tackle.
For the first time in the series, with Monster Energy Supercross 3 you can create both male and female riders. The create-a-rider feature doesn’t delve into millions of sliders to shift cheekbone placement or eyebrow inversion; it only has a certain set of pre-determined faces to choose from – all deep in the uncanny valley – but when your rider has a helmet on for most of the gameplay, this isn’t really an issue. You can also customise outfits and purchase further options through a generous reward system.
There are a number of modes to choose from in the main menu, but the Career mode is likely where you will spend most of your time. As this launches around the same time as the season starts in real-life, it attempts to follow the calendar and different classifications as much as possible.
Once again there is a choice of three championships to choose from: 450SX, 250SX West and 250SX East. To unlock the 450SX championship though, you need to win one of the other two first.
There has been a real emphasis this year to get the player racing quicker. By default, the game is set to the shortest event type, which puts the rider straight into the main event and skips qualifying and heats. But removed completely this time around is the Promotional and Media events. Rather than flesh them out into a more engaging conversation opportunity, they have been lifted out altogether. Media days still exist, but they are given to you as an optional race sporadically through the season, and there is no pressure at all to accept or decline them, thus streamlining the Career mode and getting you into the heat of the action quicker.
Each event follows a different agenda but is very well explained through the use of a flowchart on the loading screens, which details what you need to do in order to progress. Don’t let the word flowchart put you off by thinking it is confusing; it is very easy to follow. This is particularly appreciated as you will spend a fair amount of time looking at them – the loading times are quite long.
There is a commentary of sorts, but it only occurs in between the races as opposed to on the track. Instead, when racing, you get a soundtrack playing but there aren’t that many songs and, just like the lack of different commentary lines, it gets repetitive really quickly.
And when in race, the collision detection helps you as much as it hinders you. Other riders can give you a gentle nudge back onto the perfect racing line, or they can send you off course with even less force. It is a bit unpredictable, which is where the rewind function comes in very handy.
Being a newcomer to supercross, it was interesting seeing these real-life stadiums come with tonnes of dirt on them, being completely transformed. Places like the MetLife Stadium, Daytona International Speedway, AT&T Stadium and Mercedes-Benz Stadium look wildly different from their primary use of speedway circuits and American Football stadiums. Credit should go to the design team for doing a good job, keeping their shape and allowing them to feel the same, all while vastly changing the interior.
Away from the Career mode, Monster Energy Supercross 3 has numerous other activities. Single Event, Time Attack and Championship mode are all different variations of the main mode, but there is also the Compound where you can drive around freely, with it acting like a training mode of sorts. For a real trial though, there is Challenge mode. Here a series of 50 tasks across five disciplines are designed to test you through increasingly difficult levels, and performance is graded out of three. Rewards are given periodically if you can reach certain milestones.
The track editor also returns to allow the more creative sorts the chance to spread their wings. There is a handy tutorial which shows how to create a track and really makes things easy to understand. It is also a fairly quick tutorial so you will be creating your masterpieces in no time.
There is online multiplayer in Monster Energy Supercross 3 and this time there are dedicated servers for the first time. Sadly, these still appear to struggle like the servers in previous entries as – even with a growing fanbase – I have still spent a lot of time finding matches to only be kicked out when the race finally starts.
Other issues have popped up in the menus. Sometimes the timings shown in the results screen were incorrect, and one time when I achieved a second place the game instead said I was 18th, leaving me to have to deal with the stresses of the Last Chance Qualifier.
For a game that has 50 achievements, none of them seem too demanding in terms of difficulty, though some may take longer than others. Legends Never Die is in place for those able to reach the podium 100 times in any mode, and as well as this 99 Problems – for reaching Prestige Level 99 – and Easy Rider (100 miles in the Compound) are likely the ones that will take the longest amount of time. Perhaps the one that causes the biggest headache is To Infinity and Beyond, which requires you to complete every level in Challenge mode with the top result.
I wasn’t expecting much with Monster Energy Supercross – The Official Videogame 3 on the Xbox One, but came out the other end pleasantly surprised. Other sports simulations suffer from annual releases, rushed out on smaller budgets and littered with bugs, but this is a very competent game. It is immediately obvious what is required from you as a rider: going fast will only get you so far, and the real speed comes from nailing the bumps and jumps. The initial asking price of £49.99 might be a little on the steep side, but for anyone that is a fan of any sort of racing then Monster Energy Supercross 3 is worth a look.