There is little elegance in the title Monster Energy Supercross — The Official Videogame 3. Yet, that doesn’t mean that the game itself cannot have some finesse despite the clumsy name.
An essential element that developer Milestone must address, though, is giving players a reason to upgrade from their earlier titles. It is a problem that every annual sports franchise must overcome: striking that careful balance of innovating and improving while not ruining what made the series popular in the first place.
The truth is that Monster Energy Supercross — The Official Videogame 3 doesn’t quite get that formula right. It plays everything far too safe, at the cost of being unable to stand out from its predecessors.
In all honesty, there is not really a story in Monster Energy Supercross 3. Rather there is a career mode that sees players attempting to advance through the ranks by winning competitions. Moreover, the ultimate goal is to become the best Supercross racer out there.
What little narrative content that was present in its predecessors has been stripped out. So, you have no press conferences or rivalries, features that are now commonplace in racing games with career modes. Therefore, the overall experience feels even less like you are embarking on a real journey and more like an endless array of races.
Outside of the career mode, you can find the usual array of options. There are quick races, time attack challenges, and a championship mode that lets you jump into tournaments. Additional challenges are also available alongside a free roam compound where you can test out your skills. As you would expect, there is also a few multiplayer offerings but these are all fairly basic.
Strangely, Monster Energy Supercross — The Official Videogame 3 does little to help players get accustomed to the action. There is simply no real or useful tutorial. Instead, the game explains how to get the perfect start at the beginning of a race. Players are then thrown in at the deep end with just a few button prompts to help you along the way. But these do very little to explain the intricacies and nuance of driving dirt bikes. This might leave some players frustrated as the only way to get a good understanding is to keep racing.
One of the major improvements to Monster Energy Supercross – The Official Videogame 3 is the way the bike sticks to the floor. The product of a new physics system, it certainly improves the control you have when racing. There just seems to be a bit more weight to your vehicle. This helps to get rid of those annoying moments in previous games where the bike could feel floaty. It also gives a sense that your wheels have that extra bit of grip, providing an extra dose of confidence. With better handling, everything is more responsive so that the racing comes more naturally.
When this game does get it right, there is a huge sense of satisfaction. It is immensely fun to land a jump or zoom around a corner without losing the tiniest bit of momentum. Where the title really excels is in making you almost experience the speed and bumps firsthand. The action can seem very real and exciting as you battle against a dozen or more racers.
Supercross is all about analyzing the terrain in front of you, with careful timing needed to get into a rhythm. This game captures and replicates that essence perfectly. Yes, it is difficult to master, but the gameplay is — for the most — part rewarding and fair.
The most unique and appealing aspect, though, is the track editor. Again, little appears to have changed on the surface. However, there are a few quality of life enhancements and under the bonnet improvements. The upside is that it is now easier to create your own tracks and share them with others. Thankfully, the tools are simple to use even with a controller and it’s easy to get lost designing unique courses.
The presentation in these Supercross games has always been something of a mixed bag. There is an incredible attention to detail in some cases. For instance, the rushing air causes character clothing to ripple and flap around, which really engrosses you in the fast-paced action.
But then, other areas leave much to be desired. Character models are still as awful as you remember. Even the inclusion of female riders has not resulted in extra quality. In fact, very little seems to have been done to make the riders look any better.
Fortunately, there are at least a few improvements. New animations do give the models a wider range of movement. Veterans will notice that riders have smoother motions and more variety to how they interact with different forces. The particle effects and lighting is excellent, although this is something the series has always got right.
Meanwhile, players can expect to be bombarded with a horde of explosions, revving engines, and cheers from the crowd. The sound effects are great but also practically indistinguishable from what has come before.
There is nothing particularly wrong with Monster Energy Supercross — The Official Videogame 3. In fact, it is a perfectly satisfactory racer. The main problem is that it just doesn’t do enough to improve on its predecessors. Both the 2018 and 2019 editions of the game are just as serviceable.
Justifying buying this new edition if you already own those games is difficult. After all, there have been no real advancements or changes to the formula. For those that have never played a Supercross game before, this is a perfect jumping-off point. However, anyone who owns an earlier version might be better served giving this installment a miss.