In the early ‘00s, the racing genre was propelled by a wave of vibrant, arcade style titles that allowed players to jump in with ease. Naturally as trends and tastes evolved, the skill ceiling associated followed suit. Monster Energy SuperCross 4 isn’t looking to lower that ceiling any time soon. This is an uphill race from the start.
Greeted with a basic character creation screen (and pulsating dubstep that will never disappear), the pleasantries are put aside as your chosen racer number lies within the hierarchy of fellow competitors. Do you want a specific number? Do you want to be number one? Be ready to earn it in the “Futures” mode of distilled races envisioned for pros.
The character creation itself is fairly simplistic, lacking any tangible elements of true personalisation. A few face and head presets later and the time to choose a bike is next on the agenda. Once your desired bike of choice is ready to go, the tutorial is honestly a test of whether this game is going to stay on your hard drive. In the face of looming difficulty, developers Milestone begin to charmingly integrate the sensibilities of the DualShock 5.
Squeezing down R2 allows the unreleased power of the throttle to be felt, before giving it a proper press to experience some serious torque. Whilst that initial burst is undeniably fun, SuperCross 4 isn’t a game to set the focus purely on speed like the aforementioned arcade style genre predecessors. Fine tuned control and attention to the weight of your motorbike are the places to be looking when victory is on the horizon. In the same vein of genre contemporary and car orientated Forza Horizon, a rewind feature is included here to give players a second chance of correcting those overshot corners or brutal blunders on the track.
There are some drawbacks in regards to honing your sense of control. Weight, whilst appropriately heavy for the most part, can be extremely wonky if you’re tweaking the analog stick mid-air. It isn’t just a case of aligning your trajectory, but rather an attempt not to eat clumps of mud every few seconds.
From a campaign perspective, there isn’t anything particularly fresh or new here. If you’ve played any recent EA sports title (UFC 4 comes to mind the most), then you’ll be familiar with the state of play. Grinding for race opportunities, training, improving your skills. It’s all ready to be explored in the career hub.
In all honesty, my first couple of hours with SuperCross 4 were exceptionally grim from a competency standpoint. Many races were met with lacklustre finishes and embarrassing bails. Yet, I couldn’t put the pad down even with a growing intensity of rage after each failure. Whether it was the subtle implementation of gravel crumbling under my wheels or the razor sharp sound design as competitors fought for my place, SuperCross 4 was growing on me more and more.
Cruising along at a glorious 60fps (boasting the best visuals this franchise has seen yet), when I did finally emerge victorious, the reward was so damn invigorating that I briefly forgot about all those fury inducing moments of my own mediocrity. That’s when it all clicked for me and I began to truly lap up every encounter with my track rivals. The satisfaction of nailing corners, controlling speed and manoeuvring the track like it was muscle memory kept fuelling my need to get a taste of victory once again. SuperCross 4 lives to awaken that Warzone flavor of pushing.
SuperCross 4 takes the prospect of a sport with a fervent fan-base and doubles down on making the gameplay a divisive introduction to the franchise for newcomers. It isn’t quite inside the distinctions of a simulator, but it is the closest this franchise has come yet to that notion. Your mileage may vary in this regard, but the mud and sand covered competition of Monster’s latest installment are ready to test you.
[A copy of the game was provided by the publisher for this review]