Annual sporting releases are no stranger to the gaming world. However, one that slips us by every year with very little fanfare is the Le Tour De France series. Cycling has undoubtedly become much more prominent (within the UK at least) owing to two cumulative events. The Olympics in 2012, and Le Grand Depart for the most prestigious cycle race in our very own Yorkshire in 2014. And whilst such a gaming series is never going to reach mass appeal, can the latest edition to Le Tour De France series do enough to break away from the peloton and earn a yellow jersey? Or does it just offer a puncture?
The latest edition, from Cyanide studios, takes us through all of the stages featured in the grand race but also supplies us with extra events such as Time Trials. It’s highly recommended if this is your first foray into a strategic cycle game to work your way through the tutorials. And it’s at this point you realise that the word strategic, is absolute key to your success, or downfall.
You can’t just take to a track, go full throttle and try and race to the front. Long distance cycle racing is as much about strategy as it is attack. Through training you’re introduced to the advanced mechanics and how to manage and best use your energy. This is essential to progression otherwise you’re going to find yourself at the back of the pack in ‘blowout’ mode often.
Using your strategies will help plan for each stage ahead. If there’s a course with an abundance of high inclines, you’re going to want to adopt a different approach to that of a flatter stage. You are not restricted to racing through each stage as there are options to either simulate an entire race or speed through faster allowing you to regain control at a specific section
You can adjust the difficulty so don’t be alarmed if you’re new to the series. Once you grasp the basic mechanics you’ll be strategizing each stage and using the grey matter to figure out the best plan of attack. Be this hanging back with the peloton, or breaking away early to try and maintain a lead. And whilst the learning curve may take a while to get to grips with, the reward is worth it in the long run.
In terms of modes on offer, we’re treated to six tour modes overall which include past tours. Coupled with this there’s an abundance of teams as expected that should please the hardcore fans. And for the statistical manipulators among us, there’s plenty of options to edit various aspects of the riders and teams. Another excellent addition is the manager mode in which you can create your team from scratch, pick your sponsors and test yourself in a variety of tours. Albeit these are the same stages you can play in the games Tour mode. Tour De France 2017 also serves up a custom tour mode where you can create your own unique tour from the stages available within the game which offers a nice additional extra from the main game.
The handling in the game is tight, realistic and a test. You’ll not be taking any arcade racer type turns around those sharp country lanes. But this is much more of a simulation than that of an arcade ‘pick up and play’ title so we can’t hold this against the game, even if it may alienate the casual gamer.
Graphically, Le Tour De France 2017 is a gorgeous game to look at. It by no means breaks new mould for visuals. But due to the nature of the game feeling more tranquil and relaxing even when you’re trying to conquer a mountain, it offers an intangible aspect that makes the visuals feel good.
The variety on offer offers a deluge of gameplay and in terms of longevity, will easily keep you playing for hours upon end to reach each tours conclusion. Along with the additional manager and custom modes to name a couple, if cycle simulations are your genre, then this will eat up days of your life.
Overall, Le Tour De France 2017 dishes out what may be the most comprehensive cycle experience to date. With variety, great strategy and numerous options to tinker with, it’s hard to fault. But that doesn’t make it perfect by any means. Being much more geared toward the hardcore market, it’s not a quick easy title to learn in five minutes, in which case you can take a whopping two points off the overall score. However as a cycling simulator aimed at fans, Le Tour De France 2017 sets the benchmark and leaves the peloton for dust.
Le Tour De France 2017 is available now from the Xbox Store, priced at £39.99 and is also available at all good retailers on physical disc.
Le Tour De France offers up a comprehensive cycling simulation for the hardcore. And whilst more suited to the fans, for those new to the series willing to give it some time, there’s a rewarding experience to be had that can last for many hours.