STAFF REVIEW of Monster Energy Supercross - The Official Videogame 5 (Xbox One)

Friday, April 1, 2022.
by Adam Dileva

Monster Energy Supercross - The Official Videogame 5 Box art It’s been a little while since I’ve been able to sink my teeth into a Supercross game, so I was curious to see how Monster Energy Supercross - The Official Videogame 5 would pan out considering last year’s release was passable at best. With yearly entries coming in fast and furious for the indoor Supercross series, the fifth entry definitely has some improvements over previous entries, but is it enough for another yearly purchase and add enough new content to excite? The answer is somewhere in the middle.

The bulk of your time will take place in the new Career Mode and is essentially what you’d expect in a sport centric title like this. You start as a rookie entering the sport, and while there’s no real ‘story’ per-se, you’re simply moving up the ranks and classes to try and become the champion. Start out in the ‘Futures’ class, proving yourself before moving up to the 250SX class (East and West) then finally proving you’re the Pro champion at the 450SX level. Future has 3 races, 250SX has 9 per and 17 for the Pro 450SX. This of course doesn’t include qualifying races and other side events you can partake in, but you can do the math and see how quickly you could get through the core Career Mode if you try. That’s not necessarily a bad thing though, as I was initially enjoying going through the different classes and improving my rankings to win the championship of my category. I even went through both 250SX categories, East and West, and by the time I was nearing the end of the Pro series, I was more wanting it to be complete so I could be done with it, though to be fair I was trying to power through the Career in a weekend instead of slowly enjoying it.

Career Mode this time around has a few new additions that seem interesting at first and are certainly unique, but not sure if they warrant a purchase at full price if you’re still playing last year’s version. One of the more unique mechanics now added is what’s called the Rider Shape System that plays into your rider’s physical conditioning and injuries sustained during races if you are constantly crashing and bailing. Between races you’ll be shown your racer’s condition, anywhere from injured to perfect shape. Certain injuries can actually affect your performance as a rider, so you’ll need to make sure you take care of these so you can be at the top of your competitive game.

This is where Workout Sessions come into play. Taking you to the freeform Compound area, you’ll be asked with collecting five letters spelling S-H-A-P-E, attaining a certain score and then performing a certain amount of tricks like Scrubs, Whips or a Backflip. Depending on how many of these objectives you complete in the very short three minute timer will determine how much healthier your rider becomes afterwards. Keep in mind though, you only get one shot, so you may not get healed fully if you don’t perform well here, going into your next race at a disadvantage.

Between main races you can also choose to partake in training events, teaching not just some base skills, but its way to trying to show you specific strategies in races or how to properly perform certain moves. These become much more challenging as time goes on and may simply feel like glorified training modules, but I did learn a few things to make my racing better overall. There are even optional events you can join in on each week as well if you want to add some more credits to purchase new gear, but eventually money becomes such a moot point that there’s no real need to unless you really want to extended your play time as you wait for next year’s inevitable release.

You’ll also create your custom rider, though don’t expect much here as it’s bare bones as it gets. You can choose from a handful of different faces and hairstyles, change the base color of your hair, and that’s about it. Granted, you’re always going to have your helmet on and be racing when not in menus or watching the opening and closing cutscenes per race, but there’s so few options here that I didn’t even really bother caring what they looked like, which is unfortunate, as I’m usually the type to spend an hour on customizing your character to exactly how I want.

Once you reach the 450SX category after completing 250 West or East, Rivals will unlock. This is where you and another racer are told you’re rivals. Why? I’m not sure, but beating them in a few different categories will earn you a cash bonus per race if successful. Nab that Holeshot, crash less and beat their placement and you’ll almost always win against your rivals. They have a different colored name on the track, but I don’t really see the reason for this, as there’s nothing else to it. They aren’t more aggressive towards you, don’t taunt you or anything of the like, so it seems like an idea that didn’t get fleshed out properly to have any meaningful impact. By the time you reach Pro level, money isn’t really an issue unless you’re wanting to buy new parts or bikes anyways.

There’s also a journal you can check between races that give you a laundry list of optional side objectives to complete overtime. Most of these are basic such as performing certain moves like Scrubs and Whips a certain amount of times or gaining an ability point each of the four milestones you reach for completion. There’s no easy way to stick these on the screen or anything, so you need to constantly go back to the Journal between every race to see how your progress is coming in these optional objectives if you want more skill points.

If you know anything about motocross you then most likely also know or heard of Ricky Carmichael who just also happens to help you take your first steps into this Supercross sport in the early tutorials. Starting out in the Futures category you’ll be eased into the gameplay with a tutorial that will teach you the basics of riding, leaning, jumps, whoops, scrubs and more. Keeping your momentum and speed are how you’re going to win races, and without these basic skills you won’t be standing on many podiums, so best pay attention and practice, though it will take some time for it to all feel natural without thinking.

While I jumped into Career Mode right away, you might want to get a few races under your belt first to get a feel for the controls and how to properly launch and scrub so that you know how to keep up your speed in these intense official courses. Free Roam lets you return to the Compound to freely drive around a private area to explore, Time Attack, Singe Event, Championship and an Online mode are available depending on what you want to do.

Having played one or two of the previous games, Monster Energy Supercross - The Official Videogame 5 definitely feels different, even from its opening moments. Previous games felt a bit ‘floaty’ to me, but that seems to have been improved. Bikes feel much more ‘weightier’ now. No longer can you take the corners at full speeds, as you’ll need to make sure your weight is properly placed if you want to exit at a decent speed without bailing. Not only did I have to get used to taking my finger off the throttle, I had to use the brakes quite often as well.

To be successful you’re going to have to learn how to keep your speed up during turns, bends, whoop sections and more. There’s not many long straightaways, so momentum plays a huge part between first and last place. Not knowing how to lean back and ride whoops (like speedbumps and moguls) will stop you quickly or have you bail. Don’t hit a ramp section with the right speed and you’ll be bouncing from the top of each mound rather than leaping over and probably crashing when you go off track into the barriers. There is an option to enable jump lines which I found quite helpful, much like race lines that show you to turn and slowdown in racing games like Forza, but here they show you how far you should be aiming to jump in air for best results. Unfortunately they aren’t color coded, so it will take quite a bit of practice to learn what the small and large arrows mean in relation to your speed since they don’t hint if you should be going faster or slower to properly do so.

If you do end up bailing or landing in a bad angle, you are given the ability to rewind time and try to correct yourself, but these are limited. You start out with three rewinds that will mostly likely be used quite quickly in the beginning, so what do you do when they are all gone? Well, you’re going to have to land some big air, jumps, scrubs and whips to refill the bars slowly. This of course will have you trying to attempt risky moves when maybe you shouldn’t, but getting that much needed rewind can make a difference in placement.

While the bikes themselves feel heavier and control better than previous years, the AI from your opponents are as brain dead as they get. Instead of good rider AI, it seems a majority of the time the other CPU racers are basically on rails, yet will crash often and make odd choices when it comes to certain jumps. When I’m stuck in the middle of the pack, it seems as though they don’t always have to adhere to the same physics and rules that I do, as they can power through a corner at double my speed without any repercussions even with my bike fully upgraded. Difficulty seems all over the place as well, as Easy will have you lapping opponents a number of times per race, but Hard seems overly punishing and they don’t care if you’re in their race line.

The Compound makes a return, an open outdoor area full of hills, trees and numerous tracks throughout. There are twenty collectables to find, giving you a special suit and livery for your bike if you manage to find them all, but don’t get your hopes up for anything too special. While I appreciate the space to play around to have fun in, there’s nothing really here worth spending the time in unless you simply want a change of scenery from the indoor tracks. Track Editor returns also, allowing you to create the track of your dreams and share it with the rest of the community. There’s a few new tools, namely the Rhythm Section Editor which essentially allows you to save a section of your track, almost like a template, then use that in your other tracks so you don’t have to make a section of track from each individual piece. The editor is still clumsy and cumbersome to use, and while there’s no crazy pieces like loops as the game is rooted in reality, there are a few unique community creations out there worth checking out.

There is a Skill Point system in place within the campaign, allowing you to upgrade certain aspects like braking, cornering, Scrub control and more. You can only reach certain tiers bases on the series category you’ve reached, with the final upgrades being within the Pro 450SX unlock. While there’s many to unlock, it seemed impossible to tell if any of these were making much of a difference. It will take quite a grind if you want to unlock the whole skill tree, but you should have about half of it filled by the time you complete the 450SX championship.

The other half of the customization comes with your rider outfit and components for your bike. The suits, helmets boots and more are simply cosmetic, but there are plenty of choices from a handful of real world sponsors and brands. There are a few special and unique options, but don’t expect anything wacky like chicken suits or anything of the sort that you wouldn’t see in the actual sport. Bike customization also has a large list of manufacturers and parts, both which change the look of the bike for that component and the stats. Some parts will have better stats than others, but there’s no singular ‘best’, as you can get the highest stats from almost every part maker.

Career Mode will only last you so long, so that’s where the online multiplayer will have the longevity with some friends. With crossplay enabled for Xbox consoles and generations, not only is online multiplayer a draw, but split screen multiplayer finally makes a long awaited return as well. Local multiplayer usually gets overlooked and ignored, so for those that have been wanting this to return, it’s finally back. Out of the handful of races I competed online, I had no lag issues or anything major worth noting.

Visually, Monster Energy Supercross - The Official Videogame 5 is certainly passable. Nothing will amaze or 'wow' you, but that’s more likely from the nature of the sport, always being indoors at an arena and racing on brown dirt, mud and gravel. Clothing can move and flow, but you’re so focused on the race lines itself that it’s hard to take notice of much else. There are some minor texture pop-in issues, especially as a race gets loaded in and about to start, and some of the background skyboxes can be quite ugly in the compound, but nothing that takes away from the experience as a whole. What does impress is the first person view or the in-helmet camera and trying to race as you would in real life. This alone takes the experience to a whole different level that is a drastic shift from what you make be used to in Supercross games.

As for the audio, it’s exactly as you’d expect for a Supercross game, filled with loud motorbike engines and dirt flinging. Oddly enough you’re unable to completely mute the engine sounds, so I turned it as low as it would allow as it seemed to unchange for the most part. There’s absolutely no commentary during races, only a few lines before and after that are repeated over and over again. The soundtrack itself is as bland as it gets with a Rock OST that I don’t think I could remember or name any of the tracks. Do yourself a favor and put your own tunes on instead.

A slight improvement from previous year’s entries, Monster Energy Supercross - The Official Videogame 5 is certainly a passable package that will give you some entertainment if you’re a fan of the sport. While it may be repetitive and I question its longevity, especially if online play doesn’t interest you, there’s enough here for some enjoyment, though I’d suggest waiting for a sale, especially if you have last year’s entry.

**Monster Energy Supercross - The Official Videogame 5 was provided by the publisher and reviewed on an Xbox Series X**

Overall: 6.5 / 10
Gameplay: 7.0 / 10
Visuals: 7.5 / 10
Sound: 5.0 / 10


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