Monster Energy Supercross 5 Review: "My Interest In Supercross Is Piqued"
There's a certain stigma surrounding games like this, that the energy drink branding in the title - and subtitling it "The Official Video Game" - means it'll be a poor quality cash grab. The preconceived notions I had before suiting up, however, were quickly diminished after playing through the tutorial, because there is a surprising amount of depth and certainly a lot of challenge in mastering Monster Energy Supercross 5.
Pick Up And Don't Play
The tutorial makes one thing very clear; a newbie can't pick this game up for the first time and hold their own without at least practising a little and completing some of the "Future Academy" lessons, which are what Monster Energy Supercross 5 uses to introduce the unique mechanics that make this more than just "accelerate, brake, and steer".
One of the first ideas you're introduced to is weight management, which is crucial to building up speed. Supercross involves countless bumps and jumps, and landing each of these as smoothly as possible by balancing your weight with the right stick is how you'll pick up speed. Trials players will understand the fundamentals here, as the last thing you want is to land perpendicular with the next ramp.
Tricks also play a large part, and not just for style points. Whips, scrubs, and drifts will earn you prestige points, which fill up your rewind metre - allowing you to undo any mistakes - and if used correctly, are essential to going as fast as you can. Drifts will see you glide round corners, while whips and scrubs can keep you closer to the ground while in the air, allowing you to get your tyres back on the ground quicker.
All of this culminates in a racing game that may look simple on the surface, but is far from that when you get down to the nitty-gritty. Without doing the tutorial and practising on easier difficulties, new players will be taking jumps at full pelt and sending their bike into the crowd, so it's not the ideal candidate for a pick up and play session with your pals.
From Rookie To Pro
The main offering comes in the form of the career, which has two Rookie series consisting of 12 or so races each, followed by the Pro series, which is a little meatier. While some sports games have opted for the crafted story route, like FIFA's The Journey mode and as featured in our recent GRID Legends review, the Drive To Survive style of documentary. That isn't the case here; it goes back to the basics by letting you create a rider, pick a sponsor or team, then partaking in races.
Interspersed between each race, however, are the options to do a workout session, training courses, or an extra event. Workout sessions always tend to be the same thing - you're let loose on an open-world area called the compound, and you have three minutes to acquire five collectibles, earn 350 Prestige points (by doing tricks), and execute a specific number of tricks like three whips, for example. Completing these boosts your rider shape for the next race, which affects aspects like manoeuvres and in-air control.
Training sessions, on the other hand, involve various practice programmes such as winding through designated gates to earn points or overtaking as many other riders as possible before the end of a short track. Then there are extra events, which tend to just be practice races. These earn you skill points, which can be spent in the extensive skill tree. The first four tiers are available from the get-go, but you're locked out of the final two sections until you reach the Pro championship.
These abilities and buffs are nice to have, but it's hard to actually notice the impact of them from one race to the next. Improving your cornering speed or recovery rate after a fall is great, but the improvements aren't particularly noteworthy. Which is to say that you can't rely on earning more skills if you're struggling to begin with, because it won't provide enough of a boost.
Straight Outta 2008
Visually, Monster Energy Supercross 5 varies depending on where you're looking. In the free roam mode, which lets you loose across a small island with a few landmarks like a cluster of caravans, a farm, and some dirt tracks, the game looks quite impressive. Not quite on the level of most current generation titles, mind.
Until you look at your character in the menus, and they're straight out of a PlayStation 2 knock-off shovelware game. The boots especially are blocky and poorly textured, faces are flat and lifeless, and hair looks pixelated and clay-like. It's nothing that will ruin the experience, but it's somewhat inexcusable for a title in this era.
A fair few bugs will likely break the immersion of your Supercross 5 experience too, with the most common one being landing - and riding - on top of other riders. You can get a sweet ride for quite a few metres if you land on top of another competitor, instead of it knocking you both off your bike as it should. The same can happen vice versa too, assisting your adversaries in the race. Another bug happened in a training programme, which saw all the riders get stuck on one specific part of the track, slowing down to a snail's pace.
However, what does truly bring the PS5 version of the game to life, is the haptic feedback in the triggers. You can truly feel every rev of the engine, every time your back tyre spins through the mud. It's on par with a title like DiRT 5, which was the first racing game to properly utilise the new features on the DualSense.
I'm Not Super Cross, Just Underwhelmed
Monster Energy Supercross 5 - The Official Videogame does a great job when it comes to teaching newbies all about the sport itself. I had no idea what a whoop or a holeshot was until playing, and now I could likely recite the dictionary definition. Races themselves are a lot of fun - although a single mistake without any rewinds left can be immensely punishing - but there's little to keep the player engaged beyond racing for the sake of it. Once you've finished the Pro series, that's it. You've beaten all the single-player content available, and all that's left is online multiplayer or finding the 20 collectibles in free roam which will take no longer than 30 minutes. My interest in Supercross itself is piqued, and I went into the experience expecting worse, but my time with Monster Energy Supercross 5 was short-lived.
Reviewed on PS5. Code provided by the publisher.