So having been asked to put together this Le tour de France 2015 review, I immediately did three things: Refresh some of my GCSE French, Download that Queen song and download a cockney bloke saying “on ‘yer bike”.
I know little or nothing bout le tour de France, I know less about cycling, have a scar collection on my left elbow where I fell off my bike once, but that’s a different story.
So – what can I tell you about here: Le Tour de France is a cycling contest that is determined over a number of events where teams of riders compete for points to secure a bottle of champagne and a croissant.
The game has been designed to play as a team sport, what is interesting is that you can use the team to stretch the field around whilst holding back energy, then attempt to take the first place podium or the yellow jersey – this however leads to a number of issues.
The games controls are unnecessarily complex, yes one button is pedal, one is break, but then everything else is contextualized between live competition and team commands.
The other annoyance is the balancing act you will need to perform if you intend to win a race You have an energy bar and an attack bar. Energy constantly drains when you are pushing hard on the pedals, and can be recharged by easing up Attack is basically this game doing it’s best international track and field impression.
Mash the ‘A’ button to speed up, this depletes your attack bar and energy bar, but you obviously have to pace your self.
The big tracks actually become a little problematic for players who maybe aren’t as familiar with the sport and the event, like me for example, so there was a much-required tutorial that attempts to teach some of the basics of the sport & game, however this tutorial is far too bare-bones and the controls (many of which aren’t explained) are overwhelmingly complex.
But to the gameplay modes these include the main tour, where you compete in the various events of the tour to win.
Pro team, you get several tours to build up and improve your team, budgeting to buy better equipment and training, it has many fictional team styles to chose from, giving you a level of ‘Fifa Ultimate team’ to enjoy
Versus, you play as one team, your friend will play as another team, the surprising thing here is that there doesn’t seem to be an option for online play, this may be due to the fact that the games isn’t out at time of writing, not that it matters too much, the game does support local multiplayer in both co-op and versus.
Name editor lets you customise the names of teams and the names of the riders, meaning that yes, I intended to play as My Games Lounge, however after changing the name of the team I couldn’t find the team in either the tour of pro team modes
The best mode for enjoyment value however is the challenges mode, these are basically you versus the clock and actually serve as great practice for some techniques that the ‘Warm-up’ (tutorial) tab skips altogether, or only touches on very briefly.
The tour itself is built over several stages, each of which has ratings based on distance, terrain, wind, these things seem a little alien to me, yes I know what they all mean, however the issue I had is that I was not (am still not) sure how best to tackle them, long flat areas do seem to be more about maintaining a steady pace Which is another thing this game will throw you off with, the tour isn’t about who is fastest, it’s about stamina and patience, something that most race games don’t really play on.
The second race of my tour was Utrecht – Zelande, which was 160km, this took forever, and really showed how poorly some of the design choices were handled, for example, there were crowds, but some of them were quite blatantly copy pasted, as were road side cars etc.
I found my hand cramping up, and just to explain how long this one race took, some of my team were exhausted by the end, and I had passed 2 auto save points. 2 auto save points in 1 race. Also the feedback on the gravelly parts of paths actually throws you off, and sometimes the controls are disproportionate to the task you are trying to accomplish.
The riders look great and the decorative stuff does look great, if at times a little too copy pasted, which in the scale of the courses can be understandable, but perhaps employing an algorithm to shuffle skins would have helped greatly.
There is plenty to do here, the tour itself isn’t the only thing to play through, meaning that fans of the sport will have plenty of content to run through, even casual players and newbies may find the challenges worth price of admission alone (they are hard but fun), speaking of fun, whilst I admit the same-screen multiplayer is fun, it is only fun for the first few minutes of a long race, time trials make for good competitive multiplayer, but the longer courses makes for difficult playing with friends, as an example I played this with my friend and about a third of the way the course the length of our task became painfully clear.
This is a yearly title, but much like some of its brethren of the sporting world, actually has a fair amount of value in terms of replay-ability, so whilst it is probable that next year will see a new title, there is plenty to keep you going, that said I had several bug bears, like collisions which are all over the place, crashing is possible, except that one time where I went full kilter into a barrier and rather than face planting I basically got stuck on the barrier, the game then had to auto correct me back a little, which was weird, but kept happening, any collision you bounce around like a ping pong ball, yet I got too close to the edge of the road on a straight and randomly fell off my bike.
All this taken into account, it is strangely hypnotic and can draw you in to the game play, this does make some of the longer stretches more bearable, however cramp and the length of courses detracts from the overall product.
Having got to grips with this game over after the hours playing it, it is clear to me that as an experience it is hampered by the lack of knowledge I possess of the sport in question, for the die hard and sofa fans who understand the sport and event, this game will offer a great experience to really sink your teeth into, for the newbie this is perhaps not the best place to start.
Le Tour de France 2015 Review Format: Xbox One