Monster Energy Supercross: The Official Videogame 5 Review
Monster Energy Supercross: The Official Videogame 5 still ranks up there as the videogame with the longest title. If you’ve read our MotoGP 21 review, you’ll know it turned out to be a Dual Sense delight on the PS5.
Between MotoGP 21 and Monster Energy Supercross: The Official Videogame 5, MotoGP 21 is the better platform for the adaptive triggers and haptic capabilities of the Dual Sense. This advantage comes down to the one big difference between the two breeds of bike races; the track surface. In MotoGP 21, the bikes race on paved surfaces. In Monster Energy Supercross: The Official Videogame 5, the surfaces are all dirt. So the requirements for FFB are much higher. This is where the game needs miles more work.
The Dual Sense works so well in MotoGP 21 because the smooth track surfaces don’t really require a lot of feedback. However, for Monster Energy Supercross: The Official Videogame 5, the dirt tracks are not static. They are malleable. The track pulls at bike tires on every inch of the track, so feedback is constant and never ending. These constant stimuli are undoubtedly difficult to simulate, but it doesn’t appear that Milestone even tried. One must acknowledge that constant haptic simulation of a dirt track would be a controller battery killer.
So for most of the Monster Energy Supercross: The Official Videogame 5 races, there are no haptics. Your bike may slide, swerve, sink and the back tire may throw spray, but none of this is conveyed. You could be on asphalt or grass or clouds. Clouds might be the most appropriate comparison because the sand and dirt make for soft FFB responses. If you run across a rut, the only way you’ll know is by visual means. The haptics are not a total dead zone. You will get jolts and rumbles when colliding with objects and when doing jumps and landings. It’s fortunate that Motocross tracks have jumps.
A Fine Balancing Act
Much more immersive are the adaptive triggers. The right trigger is for the accelerator and the left for braking. Each successfully provides the proper resistance to match what is happening on screen. If you apply too much gas in deep dirt or rounding a turn, the right trigger mimics slippage via a ratcheting action. Cool!
For steering and weight distribution, you use the two joysticks. The left is for steering, while the right is for weight distribution. With the right, you lean forward or back for jumping or left and right for leaning. It is between the two joysticks where the challenge of the game lies. One affects the other, so there is a juggling act trying to find the optimal inputs. To further complicate matter, these inputs must also work in tandem with the throttle and braking controls.
All the modes of the previous installment are here again, with a few new additions. The big one is the Futures Academy. I recommend players, new and old, to start here. Think of it as the Gran Turismo equivalent of Licenses. With the Futures Academy, you’ll learn the basic and advanced techniques for bike handling. You’ll also find out the best way to attack track features, be it jumps or dirt mounds pushed up over the course of a race.
Monster Energy Supercross: The Official Videogame 5 further parallels Gran Turismo with the Theory Lessons. Much like the Cafe Menus from GT 7, the Theory Lessons are a series of videos that lay out the history of Supercross plus the season structure. Explanations of the differences between the West and East Leagues are also given. Eli Tomac, the Tom Brady of motorcycle racing, narrates all the videos.
Monster Energy Supercross: The Official Videogame 5 Expands On Career
Milestone has extended the career mode with the addition of two stroke bikes from the West and East Leagues. You’ll start off as a junior racer in the two stroke leagues and work your way up to the 450s. All the official rosters and tracks of the 2021 season are included. Outside of the racing schedule, Milestone has included additional events where you can unlock new liveries and gear.
Biking is a tough sport and comes with a physical toll. Monster Energy Supercross: The Official Videogame 5 takes that into account by a feature called the Rider Shape. It’s an injury tracker. Crash in a race and any injuries you could carry them forward. So your performance could suffer in the next race. To counter injuries, you must work out at the Free Roam compound. Milestone has cleverly integrated the compound into your career. The work out sessions are a collection of missions and stunts to complete.
The AI is spotty though, bikers will ram you or cut you off indiscriminately. The ability to rewind sections of your race for better outcomes mitigates this behavior.
All the content provided is available in Single and Multi Player modes. The Track Editor returns, which allows you to share your tracks with other players. You can also download community made tracks, many of which will test your talents.
Dancing In The Dirt
The game runs with dynamic resolutions up to 4K and at a locked 60 FPS. One real boon is the shorter loading times across initial startup as well as navigating to races. Bike detail is excellent but tracks don’t always fare as well because of the use of lower resolution textures. Audio gets the job done but does not stand out.
Monster Energy Supercross: The Official Videogame 5 should please fans of the series. The additions make the game more accessible than ever and is more fleshed out thanks to the new content. The main drawback is the lack of haptic feedback in relation to the track surface.
*** PS5 code provided by the publisher ***
-DualSense adaptive triggers shine for acceleration and braking
-Solid set of tutorials
-Miles of customization options
-Inconsistent haptic feedback for dirt tracks
-Not too different from the previous version
-Steep learning curve