My knowledge of the Tour De France is limited at best, I don’t claim to be an encyclopaedia on the art of endurance mountain biking, names like Bradley Wiggins and Lance Armstrong spring to mind but sadly prior to starting up Tour De France 15, I did not have an awful lot to go with upon my first adventure into the sport.
CYANIDE along with Focus Home Interactive have been pumping out Tour De France games since 2009. The idea of racing through the mountains of France had always appealed to the kid in me, though in reality my only real previous gaming experiences in the genre were Beijing Olympics 2008, which I thoroughly enjoyed, even if my fingers would disagree.
I wasn’t entirely sure what to expect with a game like Tour De France but I was pleasantly surprised to see some utterly stunning scenery. Every stage brought about new landscapes with some wonderful green countrysides and forests to enjoy, even during the mountain climbs I was treated to some stunning views. Riding from the first stage at Utrecht’s Grand Depart all the way through to the magnificent and eye catching Champs Elysées, the scenery was at times simply breathtaking.
A short warm up tutorial introduces you to the basics and teaches you how to handle yourself once aboard the bike. If I thought this would be a simple accelerate and brake, kind of game, I was sadly mistaken. Each cyclist has two different gauges, which are separated into blue and red. The blue meter symbolizes the cyclists energy throughout the many stages, which must be looked after and monitored at all times, while the red meter stands for attacks, which can be used in short controlled bursts to allow the cyclist to keep up with breakaway riders or push out in front, depending on the current need.
Failure to look after the riders energy, sees the bar quickly deplete into nothing, the screen transforming from a wonderful array of blue sky and green fields into black and white and impending doom. Once a blow up is in full swing it becomes incredibly difficult to maintain control over the bike and at times felt as if I was riding in quicksand. More often than not, a blow up would see me fall to the back of the pack and end any chances of wearing that prestigious Yellow Jersey.
There are of course, ways to recover some lost energy. One way I found very useful was to locomotive on the back of fellow cyclists, in order to pull this off I simply pulled my cyclist up to the back of a fellow competitor in front of me and hold down the X, thus allowing me to regain some much needed energy, couple this with the ability to pace myself helped me to overcome some of the tours more daunting stages. The other way to regain energy was through the use of feeds, these come in the form of a snack or drink, that when used help to replenish any lost energy.
From the start of each stage there are two different feeds to choose and these range from liquids that can help replenish some much needed energy or help with attacks to gel. The first feed can be taken from the start of each stage with the second feed coming around halfway through. The feeds alone helped me to keep my energy bar in a healthy position and helped overcome any fear of a blow up.
Once a stage begins, all racers are bunched together and looking to gain an advantage over their fellow competitors. I found it to be too hard on my energy meter attempting to keep up with the early pace setters, who appeared to shoot off into the distance with energy clearly no problem to them. I found that trying to keep up with them sapped my stamina and left me an easy target later on in the stage. I instead opted to keep myself at the front of the Peloton, which is where the real threat lies and wait for my moment to strike.
If I ever felt the need to pull away from the Peloton or if I decided I wanted to be part of the breakaway pack, I would simply switch up a gear and use up my attack gauge to break away from the majority of racers and head off to catch up to the leading riders. A constant commentary kept me informed as to what was going on around me.
The final thing to know about the game was the use of the team comms, which allowed me to maneuver my fellow team mates as I seemed fit. I could request backup when needed and get them to attack on order, one of the key elements to understanding a sport like this is the use of the cyclists around you. Once you fully understand how to use your team to your advantage the stages can become a lot easier.
Tour De France 15 can be tough for newcomers and I can testify to that, but with practice each stage is achievable and after a few playthroughs of the tutorial, I was quickly up to speed with what was required. The varying stages range from flat races to slight hills to full on mountain climbs, which really test the cyclists endurance to the very maximum.
Weather also plays a significant role when racing as the wind increases life becomes slightly harder, sapping away precious energy. If the wind was head-on I found it more comfortable hanging back behind several racers, to allow myself to maintain my energy level, leaving me in a better all round position to complete further along in the stage.
As well as enjoying the Tour De France event itself there are many other modes to experience throughout the game including Pro Team, which allows players to take on the role of any chosen Country and race for national pride, this mode allows players to purchase cyclists from the massive array available. You can build your team up as you compete through the individual events, there is also an option to have another player join you in local play which can add to the fun of the game.
Another mode is challenge mode which sees Cyclists compete against the clock to win medals, challenge mode is broken down into ten separate time trials where speed is of the utmost importance, other notable modes include Versus mode where you can compete against friends in local play, the amount of different modes available add to the re-playability of Tour De France 15.
Overall, Le Tour De France 15 may not be everyone’s cup of tea but there are some elements to the game that make for a great sporting experience. The graphics and surroundings you race through during the twenty one stages that make up the prestigious event, at times are truly stunning. There are not too many flaws to pick out when reviewing a game like this because it is what it is, it’s like Marmite, you either love it or you hate it and even though i’m not a bike enthusiast, it certainly was an enjoyable experience.
The many extra game modes add to the overall entertainment and there are hours of fun to be had when playing the game, though I would recommend Le Tour De France for the more ardent of sports fans.