For the fifth consecutive year, Italian racing behemoth Milestone gives us a new, licensed supercross game, allowing players to get in Eli Tomac’s and rivals’ shoes as they hop around on dirty bumps on powerful bikes. This year’s big features seem to be a more accessible riding model and a rebuilt career mode: let’s see the results of this in XboxEra’s review for Monster Energy Supercross 5!
Cross my heart
I’ll be honest here: as much as I tend to have a good time with this series when it comes to Xbox every year, I tend to play it around the review window and then rarely touch it until the next installment. This means that I do manage to build up some skills from time to time, but muscle memory fades away a bit each year, forcing me to relearn some of the basics. Monster Energy Supercross 5 immediately comes to my rescue, offering a convenient set of lessons in the brand new Futures Academy mode, both in the form of low resolution videos and playable tutorials, to allow players to grasp the many facets of the title’s approach to supercross.
Like in previous episodes, the riding model is pretty deep. On top of having to manage accelerator, brake and direction as in any racing game, players can use the right stick to lean the bike left and right in turns, push the rider’s bodyweight up or down to better balance landings and jumps. Crucially, the game’s physics received several new assist modes and ways to automatically manage the right stick manouvers, on top of easier AI settings. As said, I haven’t played this franchise for almost a year now, and whereas in the penultimate game it took me some races to be able to compete on any setting, on the easiest options here I started lapping the competition with very little difficulty to stay on the bike. From there, I slowly managed to crank up the difficulty to reach my optimal spot, albeit the AI felt a bit inconsistent, with some tracks where I was almost lapping some riders on Hard, and others where I barely kept up with the leading pack on Normal.
New old campaign
The best way to dive into the game’s exciting races is through the brand new career mode, that ditches the progression model of the previous games to offer… a much more classic experience, actually. With multiple campaigns ranging from the feeder 250 series all the way to the highest class, players get to pick their teams and sponsors, customize their bikes’ and rider’s look, then advance through seasons to win championships in. Results obtained allow the player to unlock points, which can then be spent on universal upgrades impacting handling, speed and so on.
With no team managament to speak of and only a handful of side activities, such as sponsor events inbetween races, the window dressing for the career is rather limited, with the quality of the racing that does all the heavy lifting. There’s even injuries that can hamper a player’s progress during the season, even going as far as making them lose skill points when they finally come back to racing. But ultimately, it’s as straight-forward as it gets, with none of the depth seen in other bike games like the MotoGP or the RIDE franchise.
Out of the beaten path
If you played last year’s Monster Energy Supercross 4, chances are you know quite exactly what to find here in terms of content. Just about every licensed track and driver from the supercross championship, also playable in quick races, custom tournaments, time trials and an online mode – which, as is often the case with pre-launch reviews, we did not get a chance to test well enough. The track editor makes a comeback too, and there’s even the usual brand new open world Compound mode, taking us this time to a little town next to a lake and a forest, where players can find optional cosmetic changes that can be used in the livery and helmet editors.
In terms of assets like textures and 3D models, the game presents virtually the same look as last year, but I noticed a better usage of lights, particles, HDR feels better implemented, and so on. There’s still a little bit of choppy feel when making fast turns, despite the framerate appearing to be stable 60fps on Xbox Series X, but the general presentation is more consistent and pleasant than last year’s game.
Monster Energy Supercross 5 is certainly not a revolution, and if you’re still knee-deep into the high octane races of last year’s installment, there’s perhaps not many reasons to upgrade yet. However, a revised physics model and much improved riding assistances make the game a lot more accessible than before, making this the best episode so far for newcomers. Veterans will only find iterative upgrades here, and even the new campaign mode offers very little novelty, but it’s all in all a better game than the 4th episode from 2021.
|Reviewed on||Xbox Series X|
|Available on||Xbox One, Xbox Series X|S, Playstation 4, PlayStation 5, Windows PC, Steam|
|Release Date||17th March, 2022|