I’m a big fan of riding bikes. I love the freedom it gives you; the wind whistling, and the connection to the road that you don’t get on four wheels. However, my adoration for these machines doesn’t stretch to the video game market. I’ve found that most aren’t realistic enough; turning isn’t sharp, the bikes handle erratically, and the sound effects are terrible. When I was given Monster Energy Supercross 3 – The Official Video Game (try saying that after a few beers), I was unsure of what to think.
Developed and published by Milestone, this is the third instalment in their franchise. Much like other sporting series, this one has a new edition every year. This annual release allows the developers the opportunity to rectify mistakes and use the latest technology to make it; look, sound and handle brilliantly. Will Milestone improve upon their last effort? How will it compare to another much-loved biking game Ride 4? This is a title I reviewed recently, so I’m keen to see how the two stack up.
Monster Energy Supercross 3 will bite you in the arse.
Before I get into; how great it looks, the multiple game modes and the many custom options. I have to mention how difficult and unforgiving this is. It’s unbelievably brutal! If it isn’t the track trying to kill you, it’s the swarm of riders all vying for the number 1 slot. It’s messy, headache-inducing and gloriously addictive.
So now I’ve got that out of the way, let’s crack on. Monster Energy Supercross 3 chucks all its eggs into the dirt arena racing scene. The aim of the game is simple; design your rider, choose your bike and try to be crowned the champion rider.
You must select from various manufacturers to choose your starting machine. This isn’t set in stone and you can change and upgrade it as you earn money. Engine sizes from 250 to 450 cc can be selected as can many custom liveries. Once your choices are made you are chucked straight into a boot camp race. The outcome decides what sponsorship is offered to you. The result matters not as you are guaranteed to be offered a contract. From here it is simply a case of racing your heart out.
Racing is all about the finest of margins.
From being the first out of the gate to sliding around bends and following dynamic lines, this is all about accuracy. The aim of the game is to remain pointing forward, yet this is easier said than done. Every portion of the race is a fine balancing act between; leaning, jumping, scrubbing, braking and acceleration. The finest of margins decides whether you remain on the bike.
From aggressive opponents to undulating tracks and mad jumps. This is easy to pick up, but damn, the learning curve is steeper than Mount Everest. This was much harder to fathom out than Ride 4, yet I felt much more on edge and connected playing this.
Monster Energy Supercross 3 is fast and furious.
For all its agonisingly frustrating ways, the one mainstay from the franchise is the attention to detail. This focus enables the game to feel dynamic and alive. The jackets rustle and flap in the wind as you blast around the course. The claustrophobic and compact tracks increase the illusion of speed. The constant crashing and colliding gives it a sense of aggression and a combative tone. It’s a gritty fight on two wheels and you truly are battling to see who’ll be victorious.
If you then add in the reactive nature of every course you race on, it gives you a true sense of realism. The bikes slide and skit across the surfaces. The curves must be judged and bumps smothered to get the best performance out of your machine. Though reading the track and being the most skilled are essential, they won’t guarantee victory. Focussing on the bike setup helps, and it goes a long way to ensuring you win.
Tinker your way to victory.
Monster Energy Supercross 3 has a vast array of custom options, setup tweaks and components to alter your ride entirely. Change your livery, spray each component and adjust the bike to look how you wish. Once you love how it appears, it’s all about parts and setup. Alter your; suspension, travel, brakes, handling and so forth. These adjustments consider your riding style and can be tweaked until it fits you perfectly. Additional parts can be purchased to upgrade your mud hog from factory setting to championship contender.
Milestone pride themselves on detail and realism, so I was horrified when they got the manufacturing balance so wrong. No matter the sport, there is always one team that outperforms the others. In this KTM are so far ahead of the other teams it’s painfully imbalanced. I began with Suzuki, blissfully unaware of this issue. This decision made the game impossibly difficult! The bike was twitchy as hell, and it would have been quicker to jog around. Skip forward a few races, I purchase the KTM and this ensured I was getting podium finishes. I shook my head in disbelief. It shouldn’t be this one sided! This advantage needs to be adjusted to improve the game.
Fast-paced and beautiful to look at.
If I put this annoyance to one side for a moment. I have to admire how great it looks. The earthy tones of the arenas and the details applied to the rider and machine are fantastic. Then there is the smooth performance of the gameplay, which makes this a joy to play. 20+ riders hog the screen, yet there are no frame rate drops, lagging or screen tears. The courses all have a unique look, are well designed and are simply fantastic to ride around.
I wish I could be as complimentary about the audio, but I simply can’t. The music choice is good, with a standard upbeat and high-tempo approach. But the same songs play on a loop. Like a teenager who loves just 4 tracks, Monster Energy Supercross 3 treats you to its favourite tracks repeatedly. I shrugged this off pretty quickly as it was drowned out by the over-revving scream of each bike engine. It was torture, like when a baby wakes you at 3 AM crying and the noise cuts through your soul. I understand that mimicking the sound of a bike must be tough, but the game’s realism takes another hit with this unfortunate mishap.
It handles like a beast.
There is no easy way to put it, but this handles like an unruly beast. Even if you adjust the difficulty to the lowest setting, this takes some practice to get right. But its challenge is one of its desirable qualities and gives the game longevity. You soon learn how to; balance correctly, take jumps, ride moguls and slide around corners. Once it all clicks it’s glorious and makes the effort all worthwhile.
Like with most sports titles, this one oozes replay value. With the in-depth career, single races, tournaments, challenges and a decent online mode, there is plenty to try out. The online lobbies were quick to join and challenged you to compete in both mini-games and races. The community appears friendly, though there were moments of toxicity that spoiled the fun. If you are an achievement hunter, you’re in for a challenge. A large and tough list will consume hours of your life and will be difficult to unlock.
Is Monster Energy Supercross 3 worth the effort?
Monster Energy Supercross 3 isn’t the easiest of titles to take on. Yes, you’ll pick up the fundamentals quickly, but the real enjoyment is found once you master them and that takes effort and patience. On the whole, I enjoyed this, but the imbalance between manufacturers and awful bike noises hold this back. If you are in the market for a tough but enjoyable bike game, then buy it here! It is challenging to compare it to Ride 4, as both offer a great biking experience in completely different environments. For me, Ride 4 just edges it because of its more balanced approach. Can you master the dirt and become the next big thing? Choose your ride, get some practise in and chance your hand in the arena.