It’s fair to say that the Tour de France has seen a resurgence in interest over the last few years. Between the positives such as Bradley Wiggins’ heroics in 2012 and negatives like the Lance Armstrong scandal, the spotlight has been thrust upon the epic road race more than in recent memory. With this in mind I’ve donned some tight fitting lycra shorts, rubbed Vaseline into my inner thighs and reviewed Le Tour de France 2013 – 100th Edition.
In the interests of full disclosure I feel like I should make one fact clear; I’m not a fan of the Tour. The most I’ve ever watched was the 10 minutes when Wiggins finished the 2012 race in a brief spell of sporting patriotism. This hasn’t dissuaded me from the title though, in fact it’s the opposite, as video games have spurred my interest in sports before.
Le Tour de France 100th Edition gives you the option of taking part in a full Tour of 21 stages or instead lets you take control of a quick tour, featuring seven stages of varying styles, such as long sections with giant hill climbs or quick and flat time trials. You take control of one of the twenty-two teams who take part in the Tour, but sadly there are no officially licensed rider names. You won’t be playing as Wiggins or Chris Froome but instead Braulio Waggons and Chris Vroome, names that I assume are different enough from their real life counterparts to avoid the wrath of various high-priced lawyers.
You’re also given sets of objectives to complete, ranging from Bronze through to Platinum. The lower end ones are fairly simple, such as winning a stage, but increase in difficulty to targets such as finishing in the top two positions with two of your racers.
There’s strong elements of strategy involved when taking part in the races. While you have control of one particular racer you can give instructions to the other members of your team to perform various actions such as attempting to overtake the racers ahead of them or protecting your lead. You also only have a set amount of energy available each race. While this is supplemented by two items of food, known as feeds, that you’re able to choose to take with you, managing both the timings of your intake plus the types you take are crucial to victory. Winning a race isn’t simply down to charging to the front and hammering away until the end, like most racing games, your limited stamina means you have to know when to sit with the pack and when to attack the lead.
Prior knowledge of the intricacies of cycle road racing is necessary when approaching the game. While Cyanide Studios have attempted to give some hints and tips throughout the game they’re not given with any context so to the layman, such as myself, they won’t make much sense. My early attempts at playing were punctuated by pauses while I quickly Googled terms like ‘peloton’ and ‘rouleurs’ to try to understand what was going on.
It’s worth mentioning that completing even just the seven stage quick tour can take quite a while because some of the longer stages can take a fair length of time to complete. Maybe due to this, accessing the pause menu gives you the option to leave the computer in control until you decide to take back over. While good in theory, you can often go from a decent sized lead to way back in the pack, so use sparingly, if at all.
From a visual perspective it’s easy to see where the corners have been cut in order to meet the budget price tag. Everything seems horribly pixelated with jagged edges, plus the spectators at the side of the road are stationary and flat, contrasting with the 3D environment and cyclists. The beautiful views of France that accompany the Tour are absent and instead it all feels rather lacklustre and soulless, featuring some fairly bad popup of both objects of scenery and textures.
There’s also glaring absences in presentation that feel jarring and ruin any notion of immersion. There’s absolutely no crash mechanic at all, in fact there seems to be very little in the way of collision detection as it’s possible to simply move through the AI’s bikes, the only thing that will stop you is contact with the actual body. Similarly, running off the road and onto rough ground doesn’t slow you down or make you fall from the bicycle, but instead you just stop dead at the side of the track as if you’ve ran head first into a transparent wall.
While the controls are very simple to pick up and are well explained by both a section of the main menu and pop up dialogue throughout the race, the turning mechanics unfortunately feel very imprecise. Taking a corner can sometimes feel like a lottery when seemingly similar presses on the analogue stick have dramatically different effects.
Le Tour De France 100th Edition is a game designed for enthusiasts of the famous competition, for those who spend their summers glued to the latest updates from across the channel.In ways I’m reminded of Grand Turismo, a series that is much loved by those who enjoy car racing but can seem inaccessible to others. Much like the more serious driving simulators though, those with little interest in cycle road racing will probably find very limited satisfaction from this title and would be advised to look elsewhere.
MLG Rating: 4/10 Format: Xbox 360/PlayStation 3 Release Date: 21/06/2013
Disclosure: Midlifegamer were provided a copy of Le Tour de France – 100th Edition for review purposes. The title was reviewed over the course of 2 weeks on a PlayStation 3. For more information on what our scores mean, plus details of our reviews policy, click here.