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Game Preview: ‘Monster Energy Supercross 2,’ digging in deep

Platform: PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PC, and Nintendo Switch
Genre: Racing
Developer/Publisher: Milestone S.r.l.
Rating: RP

By Kevin Tucker | Shacknews.com (TNS)

Italian games developer Milestone S.r.l. might be primarily known for its hyper-realistic motorcycling racing simulators, but some game fans may be surprised to learn that the company has been producing off-road racing games since as far back as 2010. Their latest dirt-focused title, “Monster Energy Supercross 2: The Official Videogame,” gives players the chance to live out the 2018 Supercross season with a selection of the industry’s top riders and tracks, and comes complete with new technical tweaks and rider aids that aim to create a much more approachable and engaging experience. I was recently able to get a taste of the action through a hands-on press demonstration, and I’m happy to report that things seem to be shaping up very well.

LEAVING TARMAC BEHIND
Though it’s more than a little obvious, I’ll say it anyway — riders within “Monster Energy Supercross 2” are actually meant to launch from the track into the air, an action that typically spells disaster in other Milestone releases. As such, in “Monster Energy Supercross 2,” the controller’s right analog stick is used to manipulate the rider’s position in three dimensions. For players making the jump from other Milestone releases like “Ride” or “MotoGP 18,” the addition of three-dimensional adjustment makes “Monster Energy Supercross 2” feel so much more approachable and manageable, despite the high level of challenge that is by now typical to Milestone releases.

One of the biggest draws to the latest “Monster Energy Supercross” release will no doubt be the 2018 season update. The new game features over 80 official riders, including the likes of Marvin Musquin, Jason Anderson, and Eli Tomac, to name a few, with all of them being available to use in both 450SX and 250SX race modes. Players will also note 17 different tracks, including arenas set across Houston, Anaheim, Last Vegas, San Diego, Glendale, Atlanta, Daytona Beach, and more.

KEEPING IT STYLISH
“Monster Energy Supercross 2: The Official Videogame” is an officially endorsed product, and not only does that give the team at Milestone the rights to use photorealistic representations of riders, bikes, and tracks, but it also carries with it a degree of on-air authenticity: the game features play-by-play commentary by broadcast legend Ralph Sheheen, and the in-game replay video will feature similar direction to the coverage and highlights featured in the televised FOX Sports supercross coverage.

The Milestone team has loads of other nice surprises in store for Supercross fans, primarily the addition of QTE-like victory poses that players can use to showcase their enthusiasm during the slow-motion sequences that play out after the rider crosses the finish line. These poses and actions will be earned and/or unlocked throughout the course of the game, likely alongside the experience and levels gained to stats like braking, leaning, and others. These victory actions weren’t available in the limited press demo, but the Milestone team was visibly excited about their inclusion in the final game.

FLESHED OUT FEATURES
The Compound is also making a return this time around, offering players a free-roaming area with which to train their riders and upgrade their abilities. Unlike in the previous game, the Compound will be unlocked and available right from the get-go for no added charge. Within the Compound, multiple players can join in together for some simple riding fun or to participate in instanced events, with four discrete circuits, destructible environments, and dynamic weather options as well as a day/night cycle helping to keep the action fresh across multiple sessions. Players can also opt to create their own tracks if they so choose using the game’s robust track editor.

Though minor, there are still several other tweaks and features that are worth noting: tracks appear to have a higher degree of deformation than before, giving players more incentive to stick to lines and ruts. There’s also the option to use the new Flow Aid to keep track of ideal lines over ramps, and the third-person camera distance setting can be adjusted and saved for later use, even when cycling through the various first- and third-person perspectives. Finally, newcomers will be happy to learn that “Monster Energy Supercross 2” will also include a full-featured tutorial system to help them understand the basics before dropping them straight into the dirt.

Happily, Milestone’s detailed approach to riding physics and realism has not been lost in the latest release. Hardcore fans can still expect to manually work front and rear brakes, clutch, and shifter in order to chase a pole position, but most of these options — and several more aside — can be automated for players who desire more of an arcade-type racing feel. In addition, the shift to the Unreal Engine 4 gives a clear boost to the game’s graphics, and should not only provide a more solid foundation for overall realism, but will allow for greater compatibility across a range of consoles.

Milestone is aiming to release “Monster Energy Supercross 2: The Official Videogame” for PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PC, and Nintendo Switch on February 8, 2019. More information about the title, including details about the Compound and the latest iteration of the track editor, can be found over on the official “Monster Energy Supercross 2” website.

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