Monster Energy AMA Supercross 2 FIM World Championship - The Official Videogame, to give it the full name on the box, is a step forward from the previous incarnation. It takes elements from other Milestone games such as the improved visuals and track deformation, adds a few unique features of its own and provides a perfectly acceptable dirt racing game experience. But, in a world where acceptable isn't quite good enough, I wish more developers dipped their toes into the bike racing arena to really push Milestone to another level. MEAS2FWCTOVG is solid but uninspiring.
You can skip through the video elements, using R1 for the ‘Clarkson button' and L1 for the ‘James May button'. When you press either, you can hear a little catchphrase from each presenter. So, if you are skipping forward, Clarkson portentously shouts “Come on” or “Hurry up”, whereas while rewinding, May proclaims “Now, wait a minute”. A little nod to each on-show persona. If you've not seen episodes of The Grand Tour, especially if you don't have Amazon Prime, this is a great way to watch the highlights.
The performance of the bikes and uninspiring career structure mean that the game quickly becomes a grind. In the first hour or so of gameplay, you are overwhelmed by the choice of bikes, tracks and artful menu design. But long-term, your excitement is quickly replaced by tedium. Which is a shame.
Dakar 18 is sadly a misjudged game that can feel refreshingly different to start with but ends up being incredibly frustrating, behind the pace and poorly implemented. With a focus on navigation and gruelling competition, refinement of crucial gameplay elements is sorely lacking. Some of the environments are truly epic, but the way the game fails to build upon them means they go to waste.
This is by far and away the best MXGP game to date, and the result of developer Milestone finally getting to grips with the Unreal Engine — despite the recently disappointing MotoGP 18. MXGP Pro still lacks technical polish and misses the magical 'wow' moments that great racing games feature, but this is now a great platform that they can build upon for the future. The difficulty curve will not be for everyone, but MXGP Pro is all the better for it.
The MotoGP series has long suffered from a lack of obvious progression from one release to the next. This time, Milestone has at least tried to do things differently and switch game engines, but right now that hasn't paid off. Last year's game was already supposed to be a transitional one, yet here we are with a game that is a regression for a series that was becoming a bit stale.