Monster Energy Supercross 2 is the second installment to cover the AMA Supercross championship, the official FIM sanctioned World Championship series where the best of the best get down and dirty to prove who is the best at getting two wheels through the mud.
Now, the previous game had promise. I gave it 6.3 overall but noted the excessive blur, lack of optimization and often questionable physics. Thankfully, Monster Energy Supercross 2 is a lesson on how to build on the critique of a previous title, with almost every single element of the title receiving an overhaul.
As with its predecessor, the core of the game comes from the career mode. This time around, there’s more to do than ever, in what is a genuinely engaging experience. Much like before, you’ll be starting with rider customization, and while you’ll still find a system based around picking a face you can live with, you have some headway in slapping on some on-trend facial hair and a fresh new fade. Also returning is the detailed aesthetic customization, with suits, boots, and helmets from some of the worlds biggest names, including Fox, Alpinestars, and Aria. Mix and match or make yourself red from head to toe, the choice is yours.
Also making a welcome return is the array of bike customization with performance and aesthetic items all gracing the store for you to spend your hard earned money on. There are more than enough options to match any livery, and you can even choose to scrap the livery of your sponsor in order to fly your own flag, should you wish to truly up the customization to another level. Performance modifications allow the player to increase their bikes performance with a host of upgrades from exhausts to branded tires, with brands like Bilstein and Pirelli gracing the title for the most authentic experience possible. No fake knockoffs here.
Heading into the career, you’ll notice that a lot has changed. While you’ll still choose your brand affiliation, choosing who’s machines you’ll be taking through the dirt, everything after that is very much fresh. Your week is split into days, with some days locked away for much-needed rest (most probably spent jumping overs stupid ramps with Travis Pastrana, but hey, “rest”) the remaining days can be occupied with promotion, media, and practice.
Promotion and media are rather barebones, with a reward offered, in the form of cash or popularity, for what is essentially a repeated cut scene. The option to spend time with media or the fans is a nice little touch, but something akin to the segments in 2K’s sports titles, offering the player some interaction would be a nice step moving forward. Practice is where the real meat is on the bone, however, with several varying practice sessions available, allowing you to work on several of the title’s mechanics, offering a genuine stepping stone for new players.
With this, you can work on riding jumps, carrying speed through corners, and focusing on nailing your landings. Get yourself 3 stars on one practice regime, and you’ll unlock the next stage. It’s a nice way to work through these as you progress the career, helping the player to develop. Making them a part of the career is a nice way to make the career feel like that of a genuine rider. The last way you can fill your day is with challenge rides, taking on another rider in a challenge for bracing rights and more clout on the scene. These challenges are a great little addition, adding yet more variety to the core gameplay.
Once you’ve chased your way through your weekly routine, you’ll be taking on the main event. How this is structured is up to you, one event wonder to a whole weekend of muddy fun, it’s down to you. The more you do, the more you earn, meaning that new Helmet you’ve been eying up could be yours even faster. Which is what we’re all here for, really. This is where the real improvements to Monster Energy Supercross 2 show their face. The graphics, physics, and racing, in general, have all been graced with a massive upgrade.
Starting with the physics, you’ll notice that the bikes handle far better this time around. There’s some real weight to them now, and how you take a jump really effects the way you land and get out the other side. The game throws you into a tutorial at the start where these mechanics are first explained, with the title giving you the chance to experience the new physics first hand. You’ll be able to scrub speed on jumps, adjusting your weight transfer and line to give yourself the optimum run. It takes a few minutes to learn but it really does take a long time to master. It’s little elements of skill like this that really add to the title, and add a lot of replayability, looking to eke out that last tenth on your hot lap.
Gone are the GTA-like physics, replaced with a handling model that actually works. Of course, it’s not perfection, there are still those moments you overshoot and those moments you seem to dump power to the ground at an exponential rate, but they feel far more like human errors than they ever do errors with the handling model, which is a significant improvement. Moreover, the surface will also move beneath you, with your line remaining on the track and the surface and having an effect on the race. It’s a nice addition, and while it’s not a fully progressive model, going around and noticing marks on a fresh track is really quite nice to see.
Which leads us onto the racing. The AI feels much more prone to dive and race you than before, with moves that wouldn’t feel out of place on a racetrack. While not perfect, it’s nice to see an improvement to the feature that greatly enhances the core experience, offering players a nice challenge that is for the most part realistic. You’ll have to really master the new handling mechanics to get the most out of the racing, further embedding it into the core of the experience.
Adding to the realism is the graphics, with stadiums and tracks looking better than ever. The overdone motion blur that plagued the first game is gone, for a much more natural looking effect that still makes things look fast while removing the feeling that it’s only there to cover up some rough textures. There’s no such thing here, with blooming lights and deep shadows adding a fantastic depth to the title that adds an element of polish that was simply lacking the first time around. Gone are the awful menus in exchange for a full redesign that genuinely looks fantastic, one that’s genuinely welcoming.
Rounding out the title are the additional modes. The compound returns, adding a filthy forest track to the title for players to explore, and practice on. This is where the stages of the practice days take place, your own personal playground designed just for you. It’s fun to tear through and to ride at your own pace, taking in the graphics while honing your skill. Additionally, you’ll find championships and quick events for you to take on, should the full career seem a little too much for you.
Monster Energy Supercross 2 is everything it needs to be. Building upon the failings of its predecessor, the new physics, the new graphics, and the greatly overhauled design do nothing but help the title to grow from something only fans would enjoy, into something that anyone can pick up and have a thoroughly good time with.