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10-20-2017

Monster Energy Supercross

The club level of Findlay Toyota Tower at Sam Boyd Stadium is nearly empty when I arrive Friday afternoon. Hours earlier it was bustling, I must imagine, with Supercross riders, Milestone S.r.l. team members, members of the press and public relations staff for the press conference announcing Monster Energy Supercross – The Videogame. While this is happening, I'm stuck at San Francisco International Airport. Strong winds push smoke from the fires that devastated the North Bay towards the airport, prompting cancellations of several flights including mine.

When I do arrive in Las Vegas, my first time in the city, and move my way past the sad slot machines that dot the airport terminal, I question why I am there. I have no interest in Supercross or Motocross or any motor racing sport. My sole experience with dirtbike racing was roughly 20 years ago. A neighbor kid had just got one and my brother and I were invited over to watch him ride. He let us try it out as well. I don’t really remember getting on the bike or riding it, but distinctly recall crying my eyes out on his couch with blood pouring out of my mouth after I drove straight into their wire fence without a helmet on. Outside of the various Excitebike games I’ve played over the years, it was my only dalliance with a sport I was being sent to Vegas to cover.

A $20 Lyft ride later I am at the stadium. The food and most of the press are gone. A few of the Supercross riders remain to answer questions and play the game for promotional b-roll. Tara, the lovely PR representative whose infectious laughter will ring through the entirety of my trip, quickly grabs me a bottle of water and sets me up in front of one of the several flat screens playing the game. If I thought it looked great in its trailer, it is stunning to see in person. Monster Energy Supercross is the second game from Milestone to use the Unreal 4 engine and it puts it to good use.

My first track, appropriately the Las Vegas course from the 2017 Supercross season, is in the middle of a torrential downpour. The wetness of the mud looks true-to-life and the bikes and riders look absolutely amazing. I know it’s no surprise that a racing game looks damn good, most of them these days do, but in my naivety, I didn’t expect this much polish from a developer I had to Google before my plane took off.

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