While the MXGP series is taking a break, Milestone’s annual Supercross series is back with the release of Monster Energy Supercross 6.
With an array of new assists, improved physics, and an innovative Rider Shape injury system, Supercross 5 was a step forward.
Monster Energy Supercross 6 (or Monster Energy AMA Supercross: The Official Video Game 6 to give it its full clunky title) continues down the same path as its predecessor, with new modes and improvements. But is it a massive leap forward or does it fail to stick the landing?
What sets Supercross apart from MXGP is that the off-road races take place in crowd-filled indoor stadiums across the US. Supercross 6 captures the scale and spectacle of these stadiums very well.
If you’re new to the series, prepare for a steep learning curve. As a full-contact sport, supercross is an aggressive style of racing.
Not only do you control the bike, but you also adjust your rider's weight distribution with the right stick simultaneously, diving into corners and leaning back for jumps. Precision is key: land a jump at just the wrong angle, and you’ll almost certainly fall off and lose vital positions.
There's a lot to juggle, but the nuanced handling is satisfying to master. AI opponents make mistakes, sometimes crashing in front of you and putting up a fight on harder difficulties. They spread out too unlike in the last few entries, making for some nail-biting final-lap battles.
Deep ruts on the ground left by other riders digging into the mud can also catch you out if you aren't careful. It’s just a shame there’s no dynamic track deformation like in the MXGP games. Dirt still doesn’t accumulate on your bike or rider either and some noticeable texture pop-in makes the graphics look dated.
It doesn't help that Supercross 6 is a cross-gen game on PS4 and Xbox One as well as PS5, Xbox Series X|S and PC. Hopefully, Milestone can spruce up the visuals in next year's game and develop it for current-gen consoles only.
While there's a steep learning curve, Supercross 6 is welcoming to new players. A new suite of automatic steering, acceleration and braking assists make it the most accessible game in the series yet.
The new Supercross Academy does a good job of teaching you the basics and advanced techniques, from shifting your weight around corners to performing crowd-pleasing whip stunts over jumps. Like Gran Turismo’s License Tests, these tutorials are interactive mini-challenges rather than skippable cut scenes, making them informative yet fun.
They aren’t new, though. Most of the tutorials are repeated from Supercross 5’s Futures Academy, this time voiced by supercross champion Jeremy McGrath, who serves as your personal coach throughout the game, instead of Ricky Carmichael.
With seven SX championship titles and 72 race wins, he’s essentially the Lewis Hamilton of Supercross. McGrath pops up throughout the game offering advice and guiding you through the career, but he’s underused.
Past Milestone games such as Valentino Rossi The Game included historic events and vintage vehicles celebrating the careers of famous motorsport stars. McGrath doesn’t get the same level of fan service in Supercross 6, sadly, which is a missed opportunity. His awkwardly animated character model would also look dated in an early PS3 game.
Park and ride
New to Supercross 6 is the Supercross Park, an expansive free-roaming area littered with obstacles, ramps and steep slopes to practice your skills that replaces Supercross 5’s Compound training area. Here, you can explore five connected areas, from a quarry with winding paths and sudden elevation changes to an abandoned airport with planes to jump over.
Once you’ve passed the initial three races in the Futures series, you can visit the Supercross Park between career races and take on extra quests and training challenges from McGrath such as performing a certain number of scrubs before time runs out. These events aren't seamless - you have to enter the central FanFest, pull up to an event and wait for it to load, which breaks the immersion.
With alternative routes and collectables to find, the Supercross Park breaks up the monotony of the stadium races. But while there are multiple areas to explore, the main map feels small and spaarse.
Other than the Supercross Park, the career mode treads very familiar ground. Like Supercross 5, it’s split into three chapters where you rise the ranks from the entry-level Futures series to become a 450cc Pro champion.
It’s largely the same career experience as every other Milestone game: you sign sponsorship deals, earn XP and develop your rider’s skill tree. At this point in the series, there should be team management options to flesh out the career.
Supercross 5’s Rider Shape injury system also returns, giving consequences to reckless racing. Have too many accidents, and specific body parts on your rider will get injured.
Sustaining injuries can affect your rider’s performance in events unless you restore your health in Workout challenges where you collect letters that spell SHAPE within the time limit among other objectives.
Finding a rhythm
Rhythm Attack is another new mode playable in single-player or split screen. Here, you race against another rider in tense head-to-head shootouts on straight bumpy tracks.
These events require a careful balance of speed and precision. It’s fun in short bursts, but with each race only lasting around 30 seconds, it’s hardly a significant addition.
What will keep you coming back, however, is the online multiplayer. For the first time in the series, Supercross 6 supports cross-play multiplayer, allowing players to race together across all platforms.
Mercifully, the online multiplayer also finally has a ranking system. That may sound like a minor addition in a 2023 game, but it will keep you returning if you intend to race online regularly.
Supercross 6 doesn’t reinvent the series but it’s nevertheless an enjoyable and challenging dirt bike racer. New accessibility options and tutorials make it more approachable than ever, the action-packed racing is exhilarating, and there’s fun to be had in the free-roaming Supercross Park.
But returning players may want to wait for a sale. If you already own Supercross 5, there isn’t enough new content here to warrant paying full price.
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