British sport has been a monumental success of late, Murray with his Wimbledon trophy, the Brits picking up numerous Golds in the London Olympics, another Ashes victory just confirmed and recently we saw Chris Froome win a Tour de France making it back to back British victories in the endurance cycling race.
Developer Cyanide has attempted to jump on a cycling bandwagon in releasing its latest Tour de France incarnation in the form of Le Tour de France 2013. Sadly the overall result for Cyanide won’t be anything like that seen by Froome and his Yellow Jersey.
The game starts promisingly, you begin your entry into the Tour and you’ll see that you can ride as any of the teams currently competing. Naturally you’ll go with Sky and you’ll select Brauilo Waggons… yes you read right. Whilst Cyanide has managed to grab the rights to the teams in the Tour de France, the same is not said for the riders, so you’re left with a list of re-hashed stars such as Waggons and Broom.
You can edit the names of the riders so you yourself can feature on the podium if you successfully manage the ascent to first place. Before you get to the top though you have to stop and form a strategy of sorts which will involve what food to take on your rides (there’s a choice of around nine, all of which have differing effects on your body), what pace to take, when to ‘attack’, when to change gear and when to use the slipstream of a rider ahead of you. It is also possible to control your entire team so you won’t only be dictating your own pace but that of your colleagues. Sounds fun… doesn’t it?
Whilst the menu system with all these clever strategical perks is nice to look at, it’s far to complex considering that there is very little in the way of a tutorial to guide you around each section. This extends to the race, when you start trying to throw out instructions to your fellow riders it can be a struggle figuring out if your wishes have even been carried out. Not forgetting that whilst you bring up the team talk menu in the middle of racing you still need to keep your finger on RT or your rider will simply stop. Not ideal.
The menu may be busy but that’s not why you bought this game, it’s quite obviously to race. Sadly the racing does little to make-up for Cyanide’s misgivings. You quite literally race the entire routes, I loved the thought of this, but in reality it hasn’t worked at all. Bearing in mind that you’ll be staring at your rider and those around you for hour after hour after hour, and whilst graphically speaking the riders look pretty nice, their cycling action is far to robotic. It’s almost like a line of iRobots from U.S Robotics has taken to the saddle and every single one of them are nothing more than carbon copies of each other. The only difference being the colour of the shirt they are wearing.
Naturally you won’t always want to race an entire stage and Cyanide have realised this by offering you the chance to fast forward the race. This is a great idea, but poorly implemented. On one stage I led (or was within the top five at the very least) for 100 km, that was all me, I decided to autopilot to see what would happen, my rider finished 66th… what in the world happened to him?
Perhaps the awe-inspiring French countryside which has inspired countless authors, movie directors and artists to create master-pieces in their own right can help save this title. Perhaps not, every kilometre you see a very poor re-creation of a Peugeot 106 on the side of the road, and you’ll count a good few hundred spectators holding a camera out onto the road in exactly the same way, again the only difference being the colour of their shirt, and the lack of any facial features… such as eyes. There’s no animation in the spectators either, they simply look like cardboard cut-outs. Behind them the scenery doesn’t get much better. It has been poorly created, looking like pixelated vomit at the best of times.
I rarely talk about a games audio but this is to poor to simply brush under the carpet. We have spoken about the faceless spectators and robotic racers all of this could have been partially saved with an endearing soundtrack. Cyanide decided to go all natural with this game and so all you’re left with is the ambient soundtrack of the French countryside, which is mind-numbingly dull. Every ten minutes or so your team manager comes across on comms with ‘There’s an attack’, wonderful, or even ‘I’m going to take a nap, wake me when something interesting happens’ sums up the game.
There is a multiplayer mode but that does little to stem the overall boredom and general disappointment felt when playing Le Tour de France 2013.
Unlike Chris Froome this game is by no means a winner, in fact you couldn’t be further from the truth. It feels like nothing more than a cash cow released simply to hit the hysteria surrounding Froome’s triumph in France. It doesn’t even feel like the game went through any form of pre-release testing or even a proof play by the Developers, instead what you’re left with is a highly unimaginative sports titles that ranks amongst one of the worst in 360 history. I genuinely don’t even think the most die-hard Tour de France fans would ever enjoy this, let alone your Average Joe. Let us hope 2014 brings us another British Tour de France triumph and a game befitting of the sport which created the behemoth that is Braulio Wagg… sorry Bradley Wiggins.