Content Type: Gaming Reviews
Date: February 21, 2018
Supercross: The Official Videogame is a Supercross simulation racing game available from retail stores and for download from the PlayStation Store for the PS4. Milestone has a great pedigree of not only developing great racing games, but priding themselves on the authenticity of the racing experience which is what has forged their history of exceptional sports racing games as the Italian passion of motorsports radiates from their games in the home of Ferrari, although they have been especially prolific with multiple iterations throughout various forms of motorbike racing from SBK to MotoGP to Motocross. Can Milestone’s debut Supercross game follow in the footsteps of their SBK, MotoGP and MXGP motorsports franchises?
Supercross: The Official Videogame features all of the official licenses for the 2017 season which comprises of 17 tracks situated in various locations around America and North America including: Angel Stadium 1 and 2, Anaheim, California; Stadium of San Diego, San Diego, California; University of Phoenix Stadium, Glendale, Arizona; Stadium of Oakland, Oakland, California; AT&T Stadium, Arlington, Texas; U.S. Bank Stadium, Minneapolis, Minnesota; Georgia Dome, Atlanta, Georgia; Rogers Centre, Toronto, Ontario, Canada; Daytona International Speedway, Daytona Beach, Florida; Lucas Oil Stadium, Indianapolis, Indiana; Stadium of Detroit, Detroit, Michigan; The Dome at America’s Center, St. Louis, Missouri; Century Link Field, Seattle, Washington; Rice-Eccles Stadium, Salt Lake City, Utah; Metlife Stadium, E. Rutherford, New Jersey; and Sam Boyd Stadium, Las Vegas, Nevada. There are 61 professional riders with each of their respective bikes and teams such as Honda, Husqvarna, Kawasaki, KTM, Suzuki, and Yamaha with their respective specifications of Supercross bikes.
The game starts with a chance to ride as Ryan Dungey in the 450 Series on the KTM 450 SX-F bike during a main event situated at Angel Stadium 2 in Anaheim, California spanning 4 laps in order to become accustomed with the handling and physics of Supercross bikes and the terrain of Supercross tracks.
Career mode features both categories of bikes including 450 and 250 and sees you attempting to climb the ranks. Whereas Milestone Italy’s career modes usually start the player off with a wildcard spot for two races at the end of a season; Supercross: The Official Videogame thrusts players into a full 9 race first season within the smaller of the two categories at the 250 East or 250 West in which you will be competing against a field of 40 riders. Players will attempt to prove they are worthy of racing against the veterans of Supercross in the 450 category containing a season calendar that is 8 races longer than the 250 East or 250 West category by not only participating in a 250 championship but also achieving prestige level 18. You will initially have three sponsorship offers that afford you the funding to be able to travel and compete in races in your own private team with the same quality of sponsor reward that are all looking to sponsor a rider that can finish in at least 15th position come the end of the championship. However, the second tier of sponsors will look for a top 10 finish due to their increased support for your rider, while the third tier of unlockable sponsors anticipate a top 7 position as they provide even more support, alongside the fourth tier of sponsors that offer maximum support and want to feature on the podium in return. In between every race weekend you will be able to read social media posts from commentators, AMA Supercross, fans and your sponsor providing varying opinions for the season and races ahead, while players can also customise their rider, bike and appearance.
Single event mode provides the opportunity of racing on a single track with the ability to have a main event, qualifying sessions and the main event or qualifying sessions, a heat, semi-final, LCQ sessions and the main event against between 17 to 21 opponents depending on your chosen Supercross category. When you select single event mode; you can choose the Supercross category you prefer between 450, 250 East or 250 West, were you can choose from any of the official riders from your preferred Supercross category or alternatively select your custom rider, while you can also select one of four custom bike configurations, alongside any of the 17 tracks in addition to adjusting the weather conditions for outdoor arenas, race length from short, medium or realistic duration that is based upon the amount of minutes instead of laps, A.I. difficulty, physics, riding assists and the choice of rewinds to your ideal preferences.
Championship mode is only unlocked upon reaching prestige level 8, while the custom championship mode is unlocked once attaining prestige level 14. Official championship allows players to automatically enter into a full season within the 450, 250 West or 250 East Supercross categories without having to progress up to the class you would prefer to race in during career mode with the same riders, bikes, teams, race options and riding aids as single event mode. Custom championship allows players to create their own 17 race championship comprising of repeating your favourite official tracks, custom tracks, most liked tracks and most downloaded tracks anywhere throughout a unique Supercross calendar and as many times as you wish within a championship season.
Time Attack mode provides you with the opportunity to set the best lap time around any of the 17 tracks in an attempt to climb the leaderboards of the fastest times as you compete against players from across the world to see who performs the best lap time in a one lap scenario, although you can complete as many laps as you wish with a full selection of riders, bikes and teams from 450, 250 East or 250 West categories or your custom rider, while you can also customise weather conditions and riding aids to your ideal preferences.
SX Challenges such as King of the Career for winning both 250X (East or West) and 450X Championships in career mode require a significant amount of effort, although they will be congratulated by earning exclusive rewards.
Rider likenesses have received a dramatic overhaul in direct comparison to other motorsports games developed by Milestone Italy as such attention to detail has been applied to even 3D scan all of the rider’s faces which is really highlighted during energetic post-race podium sequences showing the appreciation of the top 3 riders from the main event of the race weekend.
A track editor has been introduced for the first-time ever in any of Milestone Italy’s motorsports franchises. It is a feature that I have stated for a long time needs to be included in far more motorsports games such as F1 gaming. Creating an all-new track is a process spread out through multiple steps which can gradually be tested by riding the work in progress track design or viewing the track via panning the camera in free camera mode; starting with your choice for 1 of 8 stadium characteristics such as a large outdoor or indoor rectangular stadium followed by selecting a starting area from 10 varying designs. After completing the initial two stages; players can truly begin running wild with their creativity by designing a unique track layout fulfilled by a step-by-step choice of 14 curves that are technically 28 curves as curves can have their angles flipped around; a short, medium or long straight; low, high or half whoops; 22 jumps with differing heights and shapes; a bridge; and 4 types of finishing line. However, as good as the track editor can be if you persist with it and learn to understand it better; for some reason the player has to be online to use the track editor at all which means you cannot create a track while offline which naturally results in concerns if the track editor functionality would be completely removed from Supercross: The Official Videogame if the online servers were ever turned off.
An interesting form of XP and levelling up is referred to as prestige which is designed to represent the amount of time and effort you have invested into gameplay. Prestige points are earned in each mode by your rider’s finishing position during race weekends, achieving a holeshot in races, the difficulty of your chosen game options and performing actions and manoeuvres such as jumping or drifting in any mode, racing on your custom tracks when online and achieving sponsor objectives during career mode. Progressing through the prestige levels is all important as the higher amount of prestige points accumulated in any game mode will result in an increase in the interest received by sponsors and teams during career mode, therefore you have to earn the next step up with better results rather than it just being handed to you automatically for completing a season. Meanwhile, there are also additional perks to increasing your prestige level such as unlocking new titles, portraits, specialist decals for your rider’s racing gear and more besides for you to customise your player profile.
Track design has significantly improved as photogrammetry was utilised to recreate each track with extreme precision through reference materials presented by professional photographers and aerial drone video footage. Elsewhere in track design; Milestone Italy has improved a fundamental design flaw that was evident throughout the MXGP games as you will no longer be automatically respawned for accidentally venturing a couple of inches off the track as you now have 3 seconds to return to the track before being respawned, therefore making Supercross: The Official Videogame more fun to play, despite it only being a small change. Every track surface features a strong amount of track deformation which is brought about by the tyres carving a path through the dirt and mud. As a total of 18 to 22 bikes produce tyre tracks; it is only a matter of time before the track feels completely different to when the race had started. The difference in the track is due to the dispersal of the dirt and mud being flicked up in the process of the tyre tracks being embedded into the mud; potentially affecting the grip and traction of the bike resulting in you having to change your approach to the optimal racing line.
Weather conditions reflect the scale of weather options from Milestone Italy’s MotoGP series. However, when applying wet weather conditions to Supercross’ very realistic track surface and deformation; potential of further track evolution is increased exponentially as wet weather conditions change the density of the mud and the surrounding track surface. Weather conditions include clear blue skies with no risk of rain; cloudy; torrential rain throughout the duration of the race; a wet track; and even random weather conditions that are capable of presenting any form of weather in the build-up to and during the race. All weather conditions are modelled accurately to present a unique challenge as each type of weather will make your bike behave differently; especially considering how track surfaces deform depending on the weather conditions.
There are four slots available in your garage to purchase and store customised bikes from each manufacturer in both categories, although there is only a single slot for the bike and manufacturer of your choice at first, so choose wisely as there is a rather steep premium of 200,000 SX credits before being able to unlock a second manufacturer. Supercross bikes are split into 450 and 250 categories with the 450 category being the more prominent and faster class of bikes in comparison to the 250 category. Every bike offers varying attributes including acceleration, braking power, speed and handling which can all be customised. The bike customisation is reminiscent to that of the original Gran Turismo as you start off with the basic form of the bike and progressively improve the performance via a variety of categories including suspension; exhaust; brake discs; rims; and tyres, while every category has multiple brands providing their components at various qualities which can be upgraded with in-game currency which is earned by completing races as high up the field as possible. There are numerous visual changes that do not enhance performance including a graphic kit; choosing alternative colours for components; handlebars; bar pad; hand grips; and hand guards. The initial quality of a component is usually around 7 to 7.5 gradually improving towards the maximum quality of 10; for instance the stock exhaust for the KTM 450 SX-F in the 450 category includes an acceleration of 7.6 and a speed of 7.5, while Yoshimura’s RS 4 set of brand upgrades includes the allu carbon component that enhances both acceleration and speed to 8.3 and 8.3 for a price of 30,000 SX credits, alongside the carbon component that improves to 9.0 and 9.0 for a cost of 40,000 SX credits and the titanium carbon up to 10.0 and 10.0 for a price of 50,000 SX credits.
Players can change the setup of your bike in the pits which can potentially provide a significant performance advantage if you experiment enough in an attempt to absolutely perfect your bike setup for each track. The bike setup is spread across various settings such as the ability to change the preload, spring stiffness, compression damping and rebound damping for the front and rear of the bike in addition to selecting a short, medium or long gear ratio. There are also options to save, load or delete your preferred bike setups and to return your bike setup to the default factory settings.
Players can customise their rider from the customise menu which allows you to customise your rider’s personal data including their first name, surname, nickname, 5 font styles, 28 nickname font colours, racing number, 5 racing number font styles, 28 racing number font colours, area and state of nationality, 10 preset face types and a height of 170 to 190cm. Further rider customisation is available from the customisation menu including four separate default outfits which you can customise to your preferences comprising of 23 helmet manufacturers, 14 suppliers of goggles, 18 manufacturers of racing suits, 13 suppliers of boots, 5 manufacturers of neck braces and 60 unlockable butt patch designs with each manufacturer or supplier of equipment having their own range of designs to choose from costing varying prices for each type of racing gear.
There are four excellently positioned camera angles including a camera angle positioned directly behind the rider, while the second camera angle is positioned further back to provide two separate views of the bike, opposing bikes and the track surface up ahead amongst the surrounding environments which certainly caters for the appropriate distances of third-person perspectives. There are also two first-person camera angles with the first mounted to the front of the rider’s crash helmet showing the front of the bike with the rider’s hands gripping the handlebars, while the second first-person camera angle is an actual rider’s eye view looking out through the crash helmet which authentically limits the peripheral vision of the rider at the top and bottom of the camera angle.
The free camera available from the pause menu allows you to observe the closer details of the racing in the foreground and trackside environments. Free camera really is a great feature; allowing the camera to be positioned with freedom within the vicinity of the racing action including extensive customisation of images such as panning, camera height, zooming in or out, anywhere from a minor tilt to a full sideways tilt and six image filter presets or a custom image filter comprising depth of field, focal length, exposure, contrast, saturation, brightness, sepia, vignetting and grain. What makes the free camera work so well is that it provides players with the opportunity of producing customisable action shots in a fully immersive environment which works in perfect harmony with the PS4’s share feature.
You can watch a full race replay with the ability to watch in slow motion, pause, fast forward, rewind, change the camera angles for a different view of the action and to view the action from the previous or next rider, restart the replay or enter the free camera feature. You can view the replay from six camera angles including a dynamic camera angle positioned away from the bike with the TV camera angle changing from camera to camera in the style of Gran Turismo, while the two third-person camera angles are positioned directly and further behind the rider to provide a view of the bike and the track surface up ahead amongst the surrounding environments. There are also four first-person camera angles with the first mounted to the front of the rider’s crash helmet showing the front of the bike with the rider’s hands gripping the handlebars, a second camera is positioned inside the crash helmet for a true rider’s eye perspective as you can see slightly obscured edges of the camera and a noticeable difference in audio, a third camera mounted to the side of the crash helmet and shows more of the bike and handlebars and a fourth camera mounted towards the back of your rider’s crash helmet overlooking the front of the bike. Every replay camera angle showcases the physicality endured by the bike and rider throughout each race as the riders explore the bumpy deformed terrain. It would be great to see some of these camera angles make the transition from replays to gameplay such as the additional two crash helmet mounted camera angles and the Gran Turismo style dynamic TV coverage; as they are that good and would further complement the immersion within the authenticity of the racing experience. It would have been amazing for the gameplay and replay camera angles to include a helicopter camera angle from high above the circuit following the action with the sound effect of the helicopter in the audio mix.
The extras feature includes a credits video and 5 sets of written and illustrated tutorials which provide the detailed step-by-step guide on physics, getting the best out of the track editor, prestige levels, game modes and racing. There are certain tutorials that are particularly useful such as the physics tutorial that encompasses the starting point, engaging the clutch, cornering techniques, jumping techniques, rider weight distribution, controlling the positioning of your bike in the air and how to perfect your scrubbing technique.
There are multiple downloadable content packs available including a new Supercross Cup, a compound, a credits multiplier, additional icons and buttpatches, themed liveries and tracksuits, while also being available as part of a season pass to effectively pre-order each of the content packs at a cheaper bundled price of £11.99.
It is disappointing not to see a Vita release of Supercross: The Official Videogame after the excellent retail releases for MUD and MXGP on Vita, although the consolation is remote play. Supercross: The Official Videogame’s remote play performance is excellent as the graphics, audio and general performance is of the same quality as the PS4 version. There is only a minimal amount of remote play control scheme optimisation resulting in holding the bottom right of the touch screen to accelerate and holding the bottom left of the touch screen to brake which is most certainly not ideal and does not lend itself to racing on a deformable track in which adjusting your rider’s weight distribution with the right analogue stick is imperative at times to not falling off your bike. I had the best remote play experience with Supercross: The Official Videogame after customising the control scheme in which acceleration was re-mapped to R1 with braking moving to L1 and changing the rewind button to the bottom right of the touch screen; therefore providing a comfortable control scheme much better suited to the racing genre on Vita.
The controls are well mapped to the DualShock 4 controller and are almost fully customisable. The default control scheme consists of holding R2 to accelerate; pressing L2 to use the front brake or reverse; pressing L1 to use the clutch; pressing R1 to rewind the action following a collision or a general loss of track time; pressing X to use the rear brake; pressing triangle to look back behind your bike; pressing O to manually shift up a gear; pressing square to manually shift down a gear; moving the direction of the left analogue stick to the left or right to steer your bike accordingly; moving the direction of the right analogue stick forwards, backwards, left or right to appropriately distribute your rider’s weight; pressing left or right on the d-pad to look to the left or right respectively; holding R3 to chat in online multiplayer; pressing the share button takes you to the share feature menu; and pressing the options button to display the pause menu.
Despite the customisable control scheme; there is no way of mapping the steering to the gyroscopic motion sensing functionality and the touch pad can only be mapped to once instead of the left and right sides having their own purpose. It is surprising as the gyroscopic motion sensing functionality could have provided an alternative steering method to the left analogue stick, while the touch pad implementation is under utilised as it only changes the camera angle, whereas an optional control scheme from MotoGP 13 on Vita included tapping the appropriate side of the rear touch pad to shift up or down a gear. There is a lot of vibration from the DualShock 4 controller which certainly adds to the immersion of riding over the terrain as the controller will vibrate during sharp turns, upon landing after a large jump with plenty of air and even during crashes with your rider falling off his bike or collisions with other bikes. The light bar produces light green for a neutral gear on the starting grid or when safely within gear at a low gear ratio to tie-in with the sponsor’s logo, while yellow represents a medium gear ratio to show the rider should start preparing to shift up a gear and light to dark orange fading into red signifies that it is time to shift up a gear at the end of the gear ratio.
Graphically, Milestone Italy has excelled with Supercross: The Official Videogame as rider, bike and track models look more realistic than their previous motorsports games due to achieving even better lighting and particle effects than their Unreal Engine 4 debut in the form of MXGP 3, although there was just one year between the two games; the difference is significant.
The presentation of the game is solid with a great user interface across various menus such as the main menu, single player menus, online multiplayer menus, online leaderboards, rider customisation menus, track editor menus, options menus, add-ons menus, extras menus and various gameplay menus with support for navigation via the left analogue stick, directional pad and face buttons, while tapping the touch pad displays a listing of your statistics. Menu backgrounds are slick in their respective presentation as your chosen rider sits on his bike on a raised circular platform in the centre of the menu in which the camera can be panned a full 360 degrees and in the air.
Pre-session and post-session commentary is provided by professional motorsports commentator Ralph Sheheen which is hopefully a showing of intent to include commentary during races in future Milestone Italy developed motorsports games. Sound effects project an authenticity of the on track racing action as you hear revving bike engines, applying brakes, heavy landings after large jumps and crashes, accompanied by an atmospheric crowd with air horns, gasps and applause in appreciation of the riders during the build-up to each session and throughout each session as the riders are on track, alongside a heavily rock influenced soundtrack. Rather impressively, there are varying audio mixes based upon your chosen camera angle such as the rider’s eye viewpoint from within the crash helmet having a more insular approach to the sound than a third-person perspective. There is no DualShock 4 speaker implementation, although it could have produced any layer of audio such as bike engines, collisions or ambient sounds.
The trophy list includes 51 trophies with 42 bronze trophies, 5 silver trophies, 3 gold trophies and 1 platinum trophy. A third of the trophies are based upon skill as you are required to win a main event at each of the 17 tracks in any mode for a total of 17 bronze trophies. Easier trophies include the Tightrope Walker bronze trophy for completing a race without taking a fall in any mode by rewinding as soon as you crash your bike; the What’s Done is Done bronze trophy for completing a race without using a rewind in any mode; the Professional Rider bronze trophy for completing a race with normal physics in any mode; the May the Journey Begin bronze trophy for creating your custom rider; and the Fashion Victim bronze trophy for making your first purchase in the rider customisation area. Harder trophies include the Maestro bronze trophy for reaching prestige level 100; the On Top of the World gold trophy for reaching the podium in the 450 Championship in career mode; the Standing Ovation gold trophy for winning a total of 50 main events in any mode; and the A Remarkable Feat gold trophy for completing any one of the SX challenges. Online multiplayer trophies include the Thanks for Coming and the Come Back Soon bronze trophies and the You’re One of the Family silver trophy for completing 1, 10 and 30 main events respectively on any custom track created by other players. It is estimated that depending upon skill and a good trophy guide to provide some helpful tips that it would take between 20 to 30 hours to platinum the trophy list.
Supercross: The Official Videogame mostly follows Milestone Italy’s usual approach to difficulty levels and physics. There are five difficulty levels including very easy, easy, medium, hard and realistic with the major differences between difficulty levels being the A.I. will become gradually more clinical with each step up in difficulty as they will wait for an appropriate overtaking opportunity and capitalise on any mistake you make. There are further factors involved in the difficulty level besides the A.I. as there are two physics settings including assisted and normal which increases the corresponding difficulty curve as both physics settings each provide unique handling traits. The assisted physics feel more arcade oriented with a lower chance of crashing when you have become accustomed to the handling and jumps, while the normal physics are far more realistic and fully depend upon you perfecting the weight distribution of your rider throughout every corner and jump of the track. The rewind mechanic can reduce the difficulty by having numerous opportunities to rewind back to before a crash actually occurred. Between the five difficulty levels, two physics settings and plenty of riding assists which can be turned on or off; players have full customisation over the degree of challenge they wish to encounter in any single player mode as well as the difficulty for A.I. controlled riders, physics, gear shifts and riding assists during online multiplayer.
There is no split-screen multiplayer which is disappointing as implementation of all online multiplayer content into a comprehensive split-screen multiplayer feature for two players locally would have genuinely excelled Supercross: The Official Videogame, although it is important to take note that it is not an unrealistic addition given that Milestone Italy’s MotoGP series features split-screen multiplayer for two players.
Supercross: The Official Videogame’s online multiplayer performance is just as good as single player on official or custom tracks with the same sense of speed, graphics, up to 12 players and the capability of A.I. fleshing out the field. Search match mode provides a quick and efficient way of searching for the online lobby that best matches your preferred settings or you can alternatively utilise the create match mode to implement your preferences including the length of the game mode such as a single event or championship with the additional options of the category of event comprising of 450SX, 250SX West or 250SX East bikes; the number of races within a championship such as 4, 9 or 17 races; the physics from a free choice for each player to a set assisted or normal physics; the race length from a short, medium or realistic quantity of laps; the option of a qualifying session; the ability to race on a player’s custom track; track and weather selection policies for random selection or voting; the difficulty of A.I. controlled opponents or no A.I.; collisions; and privacy settings for having an open or private lobby. If you have very limited time, none of those options matter to you and you do not want to create your own match, then you can just leave the options on their default settings and search for a match with a simple press of the X button or attempt to find a match as quickly as possible via the quick match mode. Despite having A.I. opponents to flesh out the field; the host of the online lobby has to wait until a second player joins instead of being able to start the race immediately, while players who join an online lobby during a race have to wait until the next race instead of taking the place of the A.I. controlled rider that is furthest up the field.
Time Attack online leaderboards focus on fastest times from each player with rankings covering all 17 tracks across the 250 and 450 classes with each leaderboard containing each player’s rank; name (PSN ID); bike manufacturer; bike model; and the physics setting used during the player’s fastest time; and the best time set by each player, while players can compare their positioning on the leaderboards with players that occupy the top positions, globally, from your friends list and to immediately find and display your position within any given leaderboard.
Supercross: The Official Videogame’s replayability stems from numerous official licenses for riders, bikes and teams; complimented by significant game modes including career, single event, championship and time attack modes in single player, while competitive online multiplayer and online leaderboards, accompanied by extensive bike and rider customisation as well as difficulty levels, physics settings and the unpredictability of the result in each session combine together in harmony with Milestone Italy’s first-ever attempt at producing a track editor to collectively keep players coming back for many hours in pretty much every game mode and feature. However, it is concerning that the track editor requires the player to be online to even create a track; therefore posing the question if the track editor would still be available to use if the online servers were ever to go offline.
- Title: Supercross: The Official Videogame
- Developer: Milestone
- Publisher: Koch Media (Europe)/Square Enix (US and Canada)
- System: PS4
- Format: PS4 Blu-Ray Disc/PSN Download
- Cross-Buy: No
- Cross-Play: No
- Players: 1/2-12 (Online Multiplayer)/Online Leaderboards
- Hard Drive Space Required: 11.28GB (Version 1.03 – PS4 Blu-Ray Disc/PSN Download)