Monster Energy Supercross 2 Review

February 5, 2019
Xbox One
Also on: PC, PS4, Switch

I’m not naive. I know companies exist to make money, sponsorship feeds families, and corporate branding on your person or event is the consequence of financial security. It’s existed for as long as large- scale events have existed — whether that be music, theatre, film or sports. It is just something that is present in our day to day lives. As things go, it really isn’t so bad, so long as it doesn’t interfere with the workings of whatever it may be attached to.

But, let’s be honest, did we really think this was going to be the case when the title of a game is Monster Energy Supercross 2? No. No we did not.

This may look fun, but the kazoo wedged into your engine will irritate you to the point where crashing becomes a genuine consideration.

You can usually catch the stench of corporate meddling well before you witness it — but not this time! This time you get to see just how brazen it all is from the very second you boot up the game. It is everywhere. From the logos, to the name affixed to every available free bit of space, to the fact that the colour scheme of the menus is literally taken from the Monster Energy colour swatch. This full-throttled approach to advertising would be comical if not for the fact that it’s attached to a game with all the spirit of … y’know what? I can’t even be bothered to be clever here - it’s just hot garbage.

Supercross is essentially motorbikes screaming along a dirt-track filled with long, banked turns and ramps galore — all within an arena instead of across an open circuit. In the interests of fairness I will concede that, after a casual bit of research, it was pretty clear that the stadiums and arenas within the game were relatively faithful recreations. Nailing a drift or jump feels good but it’s only satisfying because you finally bested the controls that so desperately want to kill you on the racetrack. They are just wholeheartedly awful. I have never played a racing game where the vehicle in question just does not respond in any real way to the input in which you give it. The controls are absolute junk, with button positions that makes no sense and a twitchiness that even FPS pro-gamers would wince at. It’s not light and breezy like an arcade game, but nor is it responsive and tight like a simulator — it’s just a horrible, janky and unresponsive mess.

“Now that is a big pile of corporate branding …”

But if that doesn’t grind you down, don’t worry! There's a plethora of alternative/punk music that you just know some stuffy boardroom executive said “Hey dudes, check this radical tuneski out” when pitching it to the no-doubt miserable husks of what remained of a soulful design team. Nothing says extreme sports (claimed the executive) than yet another D-beat in yet another song shouted by a punk band past their prime stuck on a forgotten stage on The Warped Tour. Coupled with, what can only be described as an impression of a motorbike engine using a kazoo, you can rest assured that even if you muscle through the sludgy controls, the sound design will swiftly crush any spirit and drive remaining from playing this limp excuse for a licensed video game.

“No … No .. I said EDGY dammit!”

The end result is that despite its limp attempts to crank everything up to eleven, where we have fireworks, over-the-top commentators, canned enthusiastic crowds and plenty of opportunities for wanton and inevitable collision during a drift or jump; this is just a miserable husk of a Supercross game. It’s just utterly devoid of any red-blooded adrenaline that such a sport should be hosing down anyone in a five mile-radius with.

There’s a pile of standard play modes (single race, time trial, career and so on) that allow you to earn credits to buy new bikes and alter cosmetics and the such — but trust me on this, you’re not going to do any of that because after playing a single race you’re going to take it out of your console and then take a good long hard look in the mirror when you realise this costs the same as a AAA title.

There’s a rewind feature in case you hit the dirt and feel like revelling in some morbid rag-doll physics.

But here’s the tragic bit — under the hood you get the impression that somewhere, somewhere, buried deep within its useless innards, Monster Energy Supercross 2 was clearly, once upon a time, a faithful Supercross simulator. Someone, at some point, gave a real good hoot about what this game could be and really tried — you can tell that from the details in how you have to balance your rider in a jump, or having to manually change gears to achieve the best jump and drift velocity, or even in the Forza-style tuning shop for your bike.

But then someone with an energy drink-filled bladder and a big wad of cash just started unloading all over it. And now here we are.

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That it dares to be the price of a AAA title is insulting enough, but to be so brazen as to drag down an honest attempt at Supercross simulation means that this just isn’t worth even a minute of your time.
Daniel Garrod

You can usually find me scrabbling in the low Golds of Competitive Overwatch (the fact that I'm a Roadhog main this season is a coincidence), or shouting to any poor soul within earshot how amazing Dungeons & Dragons is (it is).