As you look around, men and women are cheering, the buildings are climbing the horizon in front of you, and you can spot the pace car ahead. Your breath is fading, your chest is pounding, and that jerk behind you who has been using you to draft behind for the last stage is making his move. As you rapidly pedal as fast as you can you feel your muscles screaming in unison with the ever growing crowds of fans. You arrive at a cross road. Go for the win and risk a blow out? Or play it safe for the points? The decision is up to you.
Over the past few years the Le Tour De France franchise has become a staple in my household. As a lover for all sports games, I just always felt it necessary to purchase and play. This edition continues down the same path as the others in that it tries to recreate a series of races that are almost 3000 Kilometers in length and have over a few weeks–not an easy task for any game designer. This years installment offers some very user friendly additions in the mandatory first tutorial which was done well and easy to grasp for new gamers to the franchise, the ability to save progress mid race allowing for easy pick up and play, and adjustable difficulty at the start of the race.
- Easy gauge for race stamina is set in two circles Blue (overall) and Red (burst or attack). Your blue gauge slowly decreases during the course of the race and acts as an all encompassing stamina gauge. As your rider goes through the various stages, it will decrease. To boost it up takes the proper use of an aerodynamic pose on the bike or slower pedaling pace. The Red or attack gauge is smaller and is used to push for a lead, going up a tough hill, etc and is replenished for simply pedaling below max speed.
- The level design is beautiful. Great open landscapes, beautiful horizons, fun little cities with fans cheering. These combine to help make a great overall look for the game.
- Physics. Hills are tough, declines are easy, taking a corner too fast leads to slowing down or falling down. I never once ran into a bug that hindered me racing the roads of Europe, and I am appreciative of that.
- User friendly bike controls allow for players who have never played, to dive in and be able to navigate fairly well.
- Lack of customization. Every racer looked the same to me at the start of races. This lack of detail may not be the biggest deal as the bikes and outfits are very unique, but it really brought down the ownership for me as a racer. I wasn’t able to go, yeah that’s my guy! Lets do this. Instead I asked, “Is that me?” I would love to see a create a player option so you could play as yourself added to your favorite team or country.
- Team mechanics still a miss. The ability to interact with your team is something I have wanted improved in the Tour de France games. Its still a convoluted process that leads to more aggravation than anything. It’s not easily explained even in the tutorials and the overall lack of explanation of these details on why its important is something that must be addressed.
- Lack of modes. Though you have several races to choose from, not adding to the race styles is a huge miss for this game. Yes, it is a Tour de France game, but you can add some fun games that allow for the player to learn and practice skills outside of the tutorial.
- Broadcast hurts more than helps. The broadcaster makes a lot of comments during the race. Some are helpful, some are jibber jabber that you don’t understand because you aren’t a bike racing aficionado. This drove me nuts and actually made me turn off the volume more than once so I didn’t have to listen. It wasn’t that it was mixed poorly, its that I didn’t know what he was trying to tell me and it wasn’t presented in a way that helped me change the way I raced.
The team over at Cyanide Interactive has tried to undertake a huge passion project. Creating one of the biggest races (might be the biggest but my brain hurt even trying to consider doing the math between this and Nascar) is huge and they deserve a shout out for that. But with a race this big and their almost too-realistic interpretation of it, the races are long and very difficult to be competitive in even at the lower levels. The meters and refills come so sporadic that even drinking your boost (blue and red mini game in the game where you hold Y to drink/use it and it slowly replenishes) are too few and far between to help the gamer find footing in the uphill climb of a game.
What I would love to see in the future for this franchise is customization of the racers allowing the gamer to feel a part of the action and make a stronger connection to the team, adding more boosts (drinks) to help with stamina management, a user friendly team communication set up, and two game modes for each race; realistic and a sped up version to condense overall race time for gamers with less time to devote to the game.
Though, I did have some fun moments playing the game overall, there is a lot that needs to be fixed in this very niche game to make it more user friendly. This led to a lot of frustration on not being able to understand what the game was asking me as someone who isn’t a huge racing fan but instead wanted to jump into a sports game.
Thank you for your time and reading my review and let me know if you play Le Tour de France 2017 and your thoughts below.