Admittedly I haven’t played this title for a few years now, but when I was first introduced to the game via PS Now I did find it a strangely addictive game. The main issue I have playing it a couple of years later is that it hasn’t been updated anywhere near as much as I would have liked.
Yet again due to events in 2020, the actual Tour De France has been pushed back, but for the first time you can play the game well in advance of the event.
For those of us that have played previous Tour De France titles they will notice that there have been a few additions to the game. A new first person camera is the most notable of those. Redesigned interfaces have also been implemented which provide a better anticipation of the course ahead and positioning of competitors.
If this is your first time trying the game out, you probably wont notice anything special other than the various bugs that are ever present and I will get to those in a bit. Be warned however, this game is for hardcore cycling enthusiasts and not really for your every day gamer. It can easily be summed up as a cycling simulator rather than an arcade racer.
What’s on Offer?
Obviously the main part of the game will focus on the Tour De France itself, but competing in it isn’t all that easy.
The game can be played focussing on a single customised rider riding as part of a team, or you can take on the role of team manager and playing that way. Either way, the idea is the same; to cross the line in first and hopefully get a few team mates as high up the rankings as possible.
Throughout stages there are various points awarded to riders for completing a gruelling mountain climb in first place or achieving the same in a sprint 100km into the race. All of which add to your season points score.
Starting the game off in either mode will only allow you access to a couple of races in the first year. The better you perform in those races, the more you can unlock the following season. You also start the level up your rider by completing various tasks along the way to build on his strength. It took me about 5 seasons to finally get to the point of being able to enter the Tour De France and by that point I was starting to tire of the monotony of the game.
All the tournaments play out pretty much exactly the same way through the year and do start to drag a little. When playing the game it isn’t necessary to be controlling the rider all of the time, luckily you can sim ahead easily enough and if needed resume control for certain parts that you need to eg. taking control during a hill climb to manage your pace better. Or as a sprint is coming up you can jump in and place your rider at the front of the pack ready to attack in the last kilometre the same as you can toward the end of the race when the finish line is in sight. Other than that, there is very little to do in the game.
Obviously the more you push in races, the more your energy will drop and if you push yourself too hard you will end up burning out completely. This does need to be managed as you race, but there will always be a feed station somewhere on the course where you can stock up your energy refils that you use to recoup yourself. You do need to manage it quite well or you wont have the energy to power ahead at the finish line.
As I said above, there are numerous bugs which do come close to making this game unplayable at times.
If you decide to use the fast forward ahead I found that when you drop back in to the action to resume control at key moments there were massive frame drop issues. This is worse when you take control on a mountain climb especially on a tight corner and it throws you off the course if you are turning.
Along the routes there are obviously fans lining the roads. During hill climbs the fans will walk out onto the road waving flags and cheering you on. There were numerous occasions were these fans were half buried in the road so you could only see the top half and kept moving across the road without retreating when you were near as they are meant to do.
There are numerous graphic drop outs and pop ins that need fixing. The worst of which was a lot of the time I would be riding with no road under me. The above image is taken as I am riding a road course in London; one city that has few green areas.
My main issue is that this game just hasn’t come on over the years as much as other yearly released sports games. I would love to be able to customise my rider other than just the skin colour. At least have the option for different faces. At the start of races you get a close camera of all the front line riders and they all look the same. In this day and age there should at least a little variety other than the tone of skin between identical looking riders (can be seen in first image of article).
There are numerous game modes you can take part in with the game, but most will be focussing on the tour modes. If you do decide to move away from them, there are challenge modes to try out and unlock further XP for your riders. The above issues however are to be found throughout the entire game and have put me off until they are fixed.
For a game that is running literally the same engine that it always has I just cant understand why it is so broken on release this year. Whilst I was playing for review I did get and update 1.01 for the game, but it didnt make any difference. At least the basic sound from the game was still there, but even that had drop outs as well and was muted at times like you were underwater.
I really do hate to be so tough on a game, especially one that I have played in the past and really enjoyed. The level of detail is great and when it is fixed it will again be a great title, but it just isn’t at the moment. It may even be the year that the game remains broken with issues, I don’t know.