The extent of my motocross knowledge starts and ends with Trials Fusion, if you discount the time me and some friends bought a minimoto before ultimately crashing it in our misspent youth. So what I’m saying is, if you’re looking for a technical, in-depth review of Monster Energy Supercross 3, this isn’t it.
If you’re still here, what I can tell you is Monster Energy Supercross 3, or from here on MES3, is a fun, fast yet fiddly game that can be enjoyed as a straight-up racing sim for newbies like me, but with enough depth to it that fans of the genre are sure to find something to tinker with.
As with most games these days, you start by customising your rider. For the duration of the game, you are largely going to see nothing but the back of them as they sit astride your vehicle of choice, so you might as well make it something you can be proud of, right?
These choices are largely superficial, but you can also choose which manufacturer you would like to use, should you have a particular bike in mind. This introduction is simple enough that I could navigate it without feeling overwhelmed, but offers enough depth that, should you want to, your avatar can be decked out like the next Evil Knievel. These customisation options continue well into the game should you wish to tinker your rider further – if not, MES3 also has 100 official riders from both 450SX and 250SX 2019 official roster, should you prefer to use your favourite rider instead.
From here you are straight into the meat and veg of the game, with a variety of game modes and races to choose from. There’s the usual career mode, single events, and time attack modes, and plenty more besides. I dived straight into the career mode before realising I had bitten off more than I could chew. Reigning myself in, I jumped in on some of the tutorials and challenges to get to grips with the controls, which do a good enough job of teaching you the basics outside the pressure of an actual race.
MES3 does a good job of creating the spectacle and atmosphere of a Motocross event, even during the tutorials. Fireworks explode as the camera pans across the arena, while the commentators blare and big you up as you enter over suitably bassy music.
Starting up the race, I was impressed with the graphics and how the game translates the race through the controller. The controller vibrates appropriately as I dragged myself over each jump and through each bend, while the bike onscreen makes the required “vrrrrr” and “nurrrrr” noises as to keep six-year-old me engaged.
I have to admit that my first few races were met more by frustration than skill, as I skidded and slid my way around the track in a way that would most likely end up with me in hospital than first place. Riding your bike isn’t just a case of gunning it and hoping for the best. Sure, that plays a big part, but as you steer your way around the course using the left analogue stick, the right one is used to balance your rider out, leaning into curves and over the jumps. For the life of me, I couldn’t get the hang of this at first, but sticking with it, this simple system works well.
Races feel exciting, if at times a little claustrophobic, as you hustle your way out of the start gate against the other 22 riders. Long gone are the days of Road Rash where you could merrily punch and kick them out of the way – here they are a nuisance, swarming around you and often bumping you off course. Naturally, this does feel unfair as the physics engine seems to give the impression that they can influence your trajectory way more than you can impact theirs – either that or I was constantly overcorrecting after each collision (or just generally rubbish). Either way, any slight bump would always seem to end up with me careening off the track, losing valuable position and time as I course-corrected and tried to make up the ground. All part of the race some would argue – but to me, it just added to my frustration.
Bursting from the start gate quickly and early is a major key to success, and often an early indication of how well you are going to do in the upcoming race. I found if I got out in front early on I could often stay there, but a few mistakes are all it takes for you to lose your lead and plummet through the rankings, and it was here that MES3 started to kick my arse a little bit, as mistakes can cost you dearly.
Playing MES3 I found I had to recondition myself a little bit to what years of racing games had taught me. As a good chunk of your time racing will be spent in the air as you hurtle over jumps and aim to stick the landing, holding accelerator and braking occasionally is likely to see you sprawled out on the floor more often than not.
To counteract this I found that I would repeatedly tap the accelerator way more often than I am used to, adjusting my balance and breaking at different points so as not to go sprawling when my rider landed back on terra firma. Accelerating and braking in the air affects your pitch, so maintaining pressure on either the L2 or R2 buttons can result in you landing on your head instead of your wheels. All of this goes against the grain of what I am used to, and with that said, MES3 does have a slight learning curve, especially for beginners like me.
On the flip side to that, MES3 includes plenty to encourage you to get to grips with the game. Once I’d done a few circuits of the Tutorial track I felt like I was ready to put my acquired skills to the test, and MES3 has plenty to get your teeth into as you continue to develop your bike riding prowess.
MES3 contains a Compound, which is a sprawling area that you are free to explore as you wish. This serves as a hub, where you can stop in highlighted sections to trigger Time Attacks and Single Events, or race around in co-op with your friends. Not only that, but should you wish to design and edit tracks of your own there is an option for that too, and I found the controls here to serve their purpose, even if it isn’t the main event.
Beyond single player, MES3 contains a passable multiplayer component containing three additional race modes, Treasure Hunt, Knockout and Checkpoint.
I have to be honest (this is a review you’re reading after all, and not paid propaganda) and although I was initially impressed with MES3, this feeling was quickly replaced with frustration, and I have to admit it isn’t the game’s fault – the game is good if you like Supercross. If I was more of a fan, then I can see me easily spending a ton of time with MES3, but as a casual observer of the sport, I have no real interest in sticking with it and getting any better – the hill of frustration is just too big for me to care to climb. If you are a fan, MES3 will certainly tick enough boxes to keep you satisfied, but if you’re someone with just a passing interest then I don’t think the game is the one for you.
Monster Energy Supercross PS4 Review
Overall - Good - 6/10
A fast, fun yet frustrating racer, Monster Energy Supercross has a lot to offer if you are a fan of the genre. If you’re looking for a pick-up-and-play racer, this one maybe isn’t for you.
- Great visuals
- Decent customisation options
- A good variety of race modes to keep you engaged
- A frustrating learning curve that demands patience
- Primarily for fans of the genre
- An annoying soundtrack that I ended up muting. To each their own!
Review Disclaimer: This review was carried out using a copy of the game provided by the publisher. For more information, please read our Review Policy.
Reviewed using base PS4.