Motocross games, like all racing games, tend to come in one if two flavours: simulation and arcade. Monster Energy Supercross 4 is most definitely the former. It’s a challenging experience that assumes you know all of the basics for racing Motocross bikes on dirt tracks, because why else would you be buying the game?
The obvious answer is, launching early in the new console generation, many Xbox Series X|S and PlayStation 5 owners may be desperate for content. This is not the game for you. However, if you’re a Motocross fan who happens to already own a next-generation console, this is the stuff you’re looking for.
The wide ranging potential audiences are made even more distant by a lack lustre training mode. Get a good start, drive, weight change, drift, jump and rewind. Everything you need is there, but it’s short, sharp and without any real context for why getting it right matters. The game has obviously been designed for fans who already know the basics and want to skip straight into the meat of the experience, sidelining newcomers to almost an afterthought.
But hey, what does it matter when you’re already a fan? When you already know that weight shifting and turn angles are often more important than speed? What you want to know is whether Supercross 4 can stand-up to the competition. Well, yes and no, is the non-committal answer you probably weren’t looking for.
The core of the Supercross 4 experience, as might be expected, is the Career mode. Organised into virtual ‘weeks’ you can jump straight into the main event, however there’s also additional gameplay options available. Every week you’ll have the opportunity to compete in training events, which can earn skill points to upgrade your rider. It’s an interesting mechanic as it challenges you to improve before giving you the option of artificially improving your rider. You get three attempts each week, and the challenges ramp up in difficulty steadily. There’s also the optional Extra Event that pops up occasionally; these task you with achieving specific goals – beating a time limit or performing a certain number of tricks, for example – and reward you with new cosmetic options.
The racing itself is of a very high standard. As stated above, this is a simulation. Supercross 4 is an attempt to recreate the feeling of racing on a controller and television. It’s not about hitting the accelerator and pulling of as many flips as you can when you get air; it’s about carefully planning your next move. The angle of turn, hitting the ramps at the right speed, shifting your weight and predicting your landing. The game offers a rewind feature – akin to some of Codemasters’ DiRT games – but this is to be considered a remedy to momentary lapses, rather than a learning tool. The handling is unforgiving, and is the AI competition, so if you want to learn to race better you’re going to be doing it on your own, and you’re going to want to do it fast.
The multiplayer options are fairly comprehensive. You can jump onto an existing lobby or create your own private or public lobby. When creating a lobby you have a variety of game modes and the option to have AI riders (with selectable difficulty) to fill in for any lack of players.
The included track editor is also commendable. Going far deeper than the series predecessors, the player can opt to create realistic tracks or something completely unique. It’s easily accessible and actually offers a very in-depth tutorial. The limitations are those of length and validity; both of which must be tested manually before the option to upload and share is made available.
As you’ve probably realised by now, Supercross 4 is well built for those who are familiar with the series. It shows growth in content and also achieves a higher standard of visual clarity on newer consoles, should you be lucky enough to have acquired one by now. However, if you’re new to the series or are just looking for something fresh to show off that new hardware, expect a very bumpy ride.