The 102nd running of the prestigious le Tour de France is about to get underway, and if you’ve ever wanted to experience the event from the comfort of your sofa, Cyanide Studio and Focus Home Interactive have made your dream come true. Starting from the Grand Départ at Utrecht in the Netherlands and going right through to the final race on the Champs-Elysées in Paris, you get to be one of the champions fighting for the yellow jersey, racing neck-and-neck in the sprints and enduring the trying ascensions of mountain passes… all without breaking a sweat. Is there any need to bust out the Lycra shorts and energy drinks in your living room?
When it comes to playing video games, each and every gamer gets to choose what type of game suits their liking. Whether it be RPG’s, RTS’s, FPS’s, MMO’s etc, the list is a long one. As a gamer I find myself capable of enjoying many different styles and genres, but I have played none as few as Simulators. Racing Sims have been most of my experience with the genre, and I find them entertaining if I don’t involve myself too deeply in the customization and tweaking of individual stats. Rather I will use the default settings and enjoy the game for what it is. While this may be considered the lazy approach, I don’t find it much fun getting down into the nitty-gritty minutia. Le Tour de France 2015 isn’t as much of a bicycle racing simulator as it is a Real Time Strategy game that is full of complexity and detail.
Moments after starting up the game, you are greeted with an opening video showing off the race track which is the country side of France, and you then realize you are in for a treat of scenery and country vistas. Exploring the menus reveals different play modes such as the Main Tour which is the meat and potatoes of the game. There are Pro Challenges which are about improving your team standings and various challenges are available for shorter bursts of play, which is a nice aside. Playing the main tour can be an overwhelming experience for newcomers. I, being an American, know very little about the actual Tour de France except for the more commonly publicized events and people such as Lance Armstrong.
Starting up the campaign immediately confused me with its large array of players, teams and a plethora of other stats that meant absolutely nothing to me. The games’ tutorial did a nice job of explaining the mechanics which are much more than just controlling your rider. There is a large focus on managing your team and issuing commands to different riders so that you can pull through the different stretches together. Energy management is key to completing the races, many of which take over 30 minutes or so to get to the end of. Riding hard to finish the race quickly will end in your failure, where as a slow and methodical game plan can see you through to victory. Knowing when to attack, coast and eat food at just the right times is key to seeing the finish line, or watching your teammates slowly drop out of the race one by one.
Seeing the various vistas and hills that are on display are pretty on a basic level, but graphically never shine and the cheering fans along the roads are a little too commonplace. Coop is there for those who wish to team up and tackle the game, but it alone is limited to local play since there’s no online available. For those playing solo, advice is constantly being given to you about upcoming turns, as well as various updates on other riders progression during the race. Since I am not a cycle racing fan and know very little about the sport, most of the terms in the game did not resonate with me and I often times learned from trial and error, rather than knowing how to tackle a certain objective.
What it all really boils down to, in my opinion is a cycling sim/RTS game that is not very friendly to newcomers to the series or people unfamiliar with the sport. I would say it is almost essential to have a fairly solid knowledge of the ins and outs of Tour de France to get the most out of the game. However, its complexity is a two sided coin. The different game modes, the vast array of teams and statistics, and the layer of depth in controlling your team riders give this game lots of longevity for those who are willing to put in the time. Tour de France 2015 is a mechanically sound game and is fun at times when you are succeeding well in a race against all odds, but the initial wall of confusion and learning curve may be too much for some to get into it.
A review copy of Tour de France 2015 for PS4 was provided by the Focus Home Interactive PR team, and the game is available now on PS3, PS4 and Xbox One (as well as Pro Cycling Manager 2015 Tour de France on PC).