When I saw that Le Tour de France 2017 show up as an option for me to review, I couldn’t help but get an itch in my head that needed to be scratched so regardless of my inexperience with the annual series, and complete lack of knowledge of how the race works, I felt I needed to learn something outside of my comfort zone so immediately I requested a code.
Right from the start the game assumes the user to be inexperienced and thrusts brings them into a quick tutorial introducing you to the aspects of speed control (right trigger for speed, left to slow down), speed burst(repeatedly pressing A), cruise control (a HIGHLY welcome feature in this mode using the LB), follow control (pressing and holding X). The gamer is also in control of the entire team, meaning they can assume control of other racers within the team or issue out commands to them like Attack, protect, or set the pace.
Something I learned very quickly, is that slow-moderate and easy cycling and team management is what wins you races. Each team member has their own strengths and weaknesses so it’s a good idea to learn what they are and understand them when venturing out onto a 200km+ race. You will live and die by your team management.
Stamina management/control is also key to victory. This is NOT Forza so getting out to an early and dominant lead early on may feel or look good on screen but you won’t be able to maintain long enough to pull out a win as the peloton (main group of riders) will most definitely catch up to you before the end of the race (usually in the last 20-30km in my experience) and they will pass you leaving you in their dust because guess what? They have energy left in the tank and by now you don’t.
Each race has multiple stages and performance up to these stages can earn you points towards getting a new jersey (which to be honest I’m still pretty fuzzy about how they work)or overall standings in the races. Each course will have elevations, down hill stretches and even slower portions that wind and curve through towns and the tracks are LOOONGG… Some of them over 200Km and it sorta feels that way at times as the average race will likely take you about 45mins to well over an hour all resulting in a sweaty palm finish. Having said that, if you’re looking for something a little higher pace, there are a options to help expedite the game by choosing to play the entire stage at an accelerated speed (x16), or just the key areas.
You can also decide to simulate the stage thanks to the Fast Stage option but honestly, where’s the fun in that? You want to play a game don’t you?
Graphically you won’t be blown away. That’s not to say the graphics are bad they’re just average. The backdrops are pretty to look, the sounds of the race are great but the character models aren’t anything to write home about. Having said that – even with the huge mass of riders in the peloton, I never once experienced any framerate dips or major slowdown so the game does have a smooth ride going for it.
One of the things that really got me was the lack of collisions. I know it’s not about crashes but I sort of expected there to be collisions in the game which could decide the fate of the races as I’m sure they do in real life. Adding to that small gripe – what about bike breakdown or tuning? I feel like he true biking junkies would want to build their bikes, tune them and really get deeper. Perhaps this is planned for future releases.
After spending time with this game, I was amazed at just how tactical it was. It’s a much deeper game than I ever would have imagined. It felt to me like this might be one of the deeper strategic experiences I’ve had playing a sports game and I can really appreciate that. It is NOT an easy game to get into but it really is designed and created for a certain niche group of people who will no doubt love sinking their teeth into this game.
Despite the fact that you could create your own team of racer and do a career mode of sorts using already existing(?)/predetermined racers , the game lacked a certain personal touch that I think many of us sports gamers crave. The ability to build a character from scratch and build them a career. I personally would have loved that and I can’t imagine anyone else out there who truly loves cycling wouldn’t love to virtually live in the footsteps of an up and coming racer they created.
Given that this was my first time playing a game like Tour De France, I did enjoy myself and have been working to better my tactics and strategies when I have a spare hour or 2 to play. The people who this game is really meant for are going to get a good long haul out of this one though.