By: Jeff Cater
Tour de France 2014 is a light simulation of the hardcore real life race. It’s not easy to make a strategic cycling game entertaining, but there are some interesting facets that developer Cyanide has implemented to add more depth to the gameplay.
Tour 2014 suffers in the respect that you’ll spend most of the time babysitting the R2 button that controls your peddle speed — the lighter you press the softer you will peddle and expend less energy, whereas fully romping on the trigger will cause your rider to pick up the pace. L1 will shift your bike back and forth from high to low, so when the terrain starts to vary you can expect to shift quite a bit and often be barely floating your finger on R2.
With the sport’s heavy emphasis on team communication and cooperation, rider comms are assigned to circle. Upon pressing, your rider enters an auto-pilot mode while you select riders and assign orders to them, or switch to them altogether. The controls are pretty hard to adjust to, and nothing is truly comfortable to pull off.
While France is a beautiful country, and the real Tour de France race covers some of the most appealing scenery in the world, Tour 2014 has disappointingly flat look to it. That being said, the wealth of trees and spectators are pleasing, even if the crowd is usually pretty stiff. Another impressive aspect is the sheer amount of riders rendered on screen and the lack of frame rate dips — hundreds of spandex-laden bikers working them calves and those… calves!
The riders all have pretty rigid animation, so that does take away a little bit, but the sight of hundreds of bikers rounding a tight corner at high speeds is still pretty sweet to watch.
They certainly did a bang-up job catching the sound of the wind cutting your ears as you pick up speed, which doesn’t sound like much, but you’ll noticewhen there’s little else to listen to besides an announcer. That guy is SUPER enthusiastic at just about anything that happens in the race, so it’s pretty easy to get excited about things that you don’t quite understand, just because he is so damn stoked about it all. He also feeds the riders information about upcoming sections of the course.
Tour de France 2014 is a strategic cycling simulation, and your various tasks entail deciding when to have one of your riders use one of his equipable refresher items (such as Energy Drink; wonder how they came up with that one…) or where to position himself in the race.
As mentioned above, a lot of babysitting is done with your controller, like to the point where your index finger gets sore from holding it in an unnaturally light-pressing state for so long. This, along with a difficult-to-comprehend communication system, creates some unintentional challenge to the game.
Also keep in mind this is a Tour de France game; races are LONG. Any single section of the race can take anywhere between 30 and 50 real minutes, which is too damn much button floating. Listening to an overly-eager Brit and your bike chain clicking for an hour gets grating long before that hour is up. If you can find a friend that’s willing to come over and put up with the same thing, the game supports local multiplayer but no online.
It might sate enthusiasts of the world of cycling, but the average player has little to look forward to here. Beyond the impressive first moments of position swapping amongst the hundreds of riders, you’re left with often empty feeling rides in the French countryside.