Le Tour de France 2017 is developed by Cyanide Studio and published by Focus Home Interactive and attempts to bring the excitement of the event to consoles. Having never played a Tour De France game before I was intrigued to see what the appeal was. I mean they release them pretty much every year so somebody is buying them somewhere. If you are unaware of this annual cycling event then you probably aren’t reading this review, but for those of you who want to know, let’s get stuck in.
The Tour de France is an annual multiple stage bicycle race primarily held in France, while also occasionally making passes through nearby countries. The race was first organized in 1903 to increase sales for the newspaper L’Auto; which is currently run by the Amaury Sport Organisation. The race has been held annually since its first edition in 1903 except when it was stopped for the two World Wars. As the Tour gained prominence and popularity the race was lengthened and its reach began to extend around the globe. Participation expanded from a primarily French field, as riders from all over the world began to participate in the race each year. The Tour is a UCI World Tour event, which means that the teams that compete in the race are mostly UCI WorldTeams, with the exception of the teams that the organisers invite.
So now that we have the history lesson over, lets move onto the game itself.
Le Tour de France 2017 as you would imagine allows you to control a team of riders and take on the biggest cycling event on the calendar. When you first start up the game you are greeted with a very basic screen with only a few options. Take on the Tour as an already established team or create your own. Pick team members keeping to a budget and then head out into a few smaller races to gain experience. Alternatively you can take part in one of the challenges that test your downhill skills. There are many options that you can choose from with regards to game modes. Alternatively you and a friend can take on the roads cooperatively, however, this is only available locally on split screen.
Once you are out on the road you control your speed with a press of the trigger buttons, R2 speeding up and L2 slowing down. Pressing L1 initiates a cruise control type system where single pressed of the R1 and L1 will speed up and slow down your pace. Try not go go too fast at the beginning as controlling your stamina is probably the most important part of the game. A blue circle shows general stamina remaining and an inner red circle is used for those sprints. If you are running low on energy you can consume a blue and reg gel which magically replenishes part of your energy.
Whilst on the stage in control of your team you are given certain tactical options to pick from, you can get a rider to break ahead, get them to defend you as well upping the effort values for your team mates. You can even take control of any of your team mates so that you can always be in the thick of the action.
You have to ride tactically, you have to think about the whole stage. Do you stick with the peloton through the race or do you try and create a breakaway pack? The choice is yours. You will get given an objective at the start of some stages, be it finishing in a certain position. Sometimes you get told there is no objective and to just race.
Each stage can be a long one, however you do have a couple of options to help alleviate this annoyance. You can choose to play the entire stage, at normal or at an accelerated speed (x16), or just play the key areas. You can also decide to simulate the stage thanks to the Fast Stage option.
All this information is great, but how does it actually play? Well surprisingly to me, it plays pretty good. Playing through the stages was fun, albeit massively difficult to get a good result. Having to get used to the energy meter is a challenge. On one of the stages I was leading the race with 1 kilometre to go and I started to sprint too early. This caused my character to “blow Up” and slow to a snails pace eventually finishing in around 30th position.
The game is deep and responsive with regards to the control system, but the in game tutorial will take you through everything that you need to know.
Graphically Le Tour de France 2017 stands up on it’s own. While you are not going to get visuals on par with Battlefield 1, you are greeted with some beautiful landscapes, good character models and crowds all over the place.
The sun blinds you as it gets closer to the centre of the screen, and wind effects show you are being effected by drag. The crowds litter the streets showing their support for their favourite cyclist. Even with a full crowd of cyclists on the screen at once all bunched up there were no signs of frame rate dips.
New backdrops for some locations have been added including Düsseldorf, Liège, Marseille, Grand Palais among others. Giving the game its own sense of realism that this type of game needs.
The audio is perfect, from the spinning of chains, to the cheering of crowds. It all adds up to just how I imagine it would be taking part in Le Tour de France. As you cycle past crowds, they cheers out while pumping their fists. I like to think that they are cheering specifically for me, however I know this isn’t true.
Little audible queues are present so that you know when you are using an option. These are always helpful for those of you that don’t press the buttons hard enough.
With the Pro Tour option covering numerous seasons you can rest assured that this game will last you a while. However, the caveat to that is that I imagine this game will be pretty boring to a non-cycling fan.
Overall, Le Tour de France 2017 is a great representation of the cycling event. However, it will only appeal to a certain audience. With its decent visuals and massive focus on tactical cycling it gives a great challenge to those willing to put the time in.
Le Tour de France 2017 gets the Thumb Culture Silver Award