Tour de France 2017 Review

By Megan Walton,
It's the time of year when the real life Tour de France is about to take place and hundreds of riders jump on their bike for a scenic tour of France in the hope to snag the precious yellow jersey. CYANIDE has been developing the accompanying Tour de France titles since 2009 and this year sees the latest instalment come to light in the form of Tour de France 2017. Obviously the game is aimed at cycling fans, but does it also appeal to the mass gaming audience?

Don't forget to pedal while you're enjoying the viewDon't forget to pedal while you're enjoying the view

The Tour de France is a cycling race that consists of 21 different stages of racing across various areas of France, with riders from different countries grouping together into teams to ultimately win the competition and the coveted yellow jersey. If you are unfamiliar with the mechanics of the Tour de France games then your first stop should be the training option. You'll learn the basics of riding a bike pretty quickly, pedalling and braking, but the aspects of keeping track of not only one rider, but a whole team, are a little bit more difficult. The tutorial does a good job in explaining the quite complicated ins and outs.

If you feel you're ready to jump into the actual racing, you can do so at any point and across a number of different modes. There's a good amount of content here, with the tour, challenge, pro team and my tour modes each differing just enough to make them unique and interesting. The tour mode is where you'll be spending most of your time. If your heart is set on competing in the expected 21 stages of the official Tour de France then you can jump straight into that. There are five other races, though, such as the Tryptique tour or the International, as well as the 2016 Tour de France race. Each race has its own unique number of stages with varying difficulties and types, including hilly stages and time trial stages. This variety is needed as continually competing in the same style of racing does get repetitive.

You will start the first stage of whichever tour you've chosen in the middle of the pelaton (the main pack) with a full stamina bar and attack bar. Your job is to manage your stamina in order to keep in sight of the podium without pushing too hard and wearing your rider out, and trying to balance this will be one of your main challenges. The stamina bar needs to get you right through to the end of the stage and is depleted through your natural pedalling, unless you ride at a slower speed or shelter behind another rider. If you use it too quickly and run out, your rider will have a blow out, which causes them to slow drastically and lose you any hope of finishing in a decent postion.


Once you're in the thick of the race, breaking away from the pack is key to earning a place on the podium. Your attack bar is limited and needs to be managed throughout the race, like the stamina bar, but it gives you a short burst of speed for a limited time in order to break away. Both of these bars will recover if you ride slow enough, or they can be automatically filled by a limited amount by drinking the corresponding gel that your rider carries. Ultimately, the gels are vital to get to the end of the stage in a decent position but the game doesn't advise you when is best to use them, so you're going to have to decide for yourself.

Winning the stage is not your only objective, though, as there are different jerseys to be earned for various feats. Best climber, best young rider and best sprinter are all jerseys for which you'll want to aim at some point. During the races, you'll be met with areas that are climbs or sprints; finishing these first, or in a high position, will earn you points towards the corresponding title. Finish with the most points at the end of the tour and that jersey is yours, but chances are that you won't be able to do that with just the one rider and this is where your team mates come in handy.

You can switch to your team mates one by one and ride with them for a while if you like, but the best way to control them is with team communication. This pauses the race while you give group instructions, such as to attack, hold the pace, press hard, wait for someone who's fallen behind, or protect the leader. Each of your riders excels in certain skills and is lacking in others, so while some will thrive in a sprint, others will fall behind, and so on. Managing all of your team and trying to get everyone to finish well is a hard feat. This is the nature of the Tour de France style racing, though, and racing in a team can have advantages as well as disadvantages; trying to weigh these in your favour is another tough challenge.


The other modes offer the same thing in a different way. The Pro Team challenges you to buy your riders, create a new team from the bottom up and then earn more money, get a new sponsor and so on. This fun mode offers a different kind of challenge from simply winning the races as your sponsors will require you to finish in certain positions or challenge you to have a particular rider do a particular thing. Challenge mode puts your cycling to the test in the form of a time trial where you have to complete a certain stage or area of track in a time that will earn you either a gold, silver or bronze medal. If you like short but fast paced cycling and getting your time on a global leaderboard, this is the mode with which you'll want to be spending time.

Due to the nature of the Tour de France, there are a lot of long stages, consisting of seemingly endless km's of cycling. This means you'll spend a lot of time doing not very much and the game gets a bit boring after a while. To make matters worse, there is no music to distract you during the stages either; the only thing you'll hear is someone shouting instructions or advice every now and again. While helpful, it's a lot less interesting than music would have been. Luckily, the game does make good use of a fast forward feature that can be used to skip boring bits of a stage, or even the whole thing entirely. Skipping stages means you are leaving the winning to chance, so don't expect your riders to perform to the highest standard when you use this.

While the training gives you a helping hand with how to play the game, it doesn't feel forgiving to someone new to the series. There are a number of different difficulties, with the amatuer one stating that even an outsider has the chance to win the stage, but the way it plays actually feels like it's a lot harder than that. Even on the amatuer difficulty, racing feels like quite a challenge, especially if you are aiming for a good finish and a shot at any or all of the jerseys along the way.


Fans of cycling will be happy to see many of the riders and teams are represented in the game. If you have a favourite cyclist or a team for which you've always wished you could ride, you can easily jump into that team. If you want to mix the cyclists around and swap up the teams, you can do that too, so there's plenty to be playing with here. Watching the cyclists against the backdrops of France is one of the game's biggest appeals, as the settings of the stages are genuinely well designed and decorated, with idiots even stepping into the paths of the cyclists like they do in the real race.

The achievements for the game come in a nicely rounded list that challenges you to win all of the races in which you can compete. There's a couple of gimme achievements, like ordering someone to attack and using up all of your team gels in a stage, but generally it is not an easy to complete list. Finishing and winning the Tour de France in Legend mode, the hardest mode in the game, is no doubt going to be the biggest challenge you will face for a completion.

Summary

If you are an avid cycling fan, Tour de France 2017 does hold a lot of appeal. There are a fair number of races in which to compete, and the proper riders and teams makes the game feel that bit more real. Accompanied by some great graphics, this makes the game perfect for a Tour de France lover. For everyone else, it feels tough and a little lacking. The long stages coupled with a non-existent soundtrack means the game can be boring, and the higher difficulty level can be disheartening even on amateur. Get on your bike and pick this up if you're glued to the Tour de France right now, but otherwise cycle on.
3 / 5
Tour de France 2017
Positives
  • Lots of genuine teams and riders represented
  • Fast forward and quick stage are handy tools
  • Pretty visuals and environments
Negatives
  • Long stages can get boring and tedious
  • Hard to keep on top of all your riders
  • Even amateur feels tough for newbies
  • Lack of music during the stages
Ethics
The reviewer spent seven hours cycling around various stages of the Tour de France, generally failing to get anywhere near the podium and unlocking 13 of the game's 28 achievements. An Xbox One code was provided by the publisher for the purpose of this review.
Megan Walton
Written by Megan Walton
Megan is a TA newshound and reviewer who has been writing for the site since early 2014. Currently working in catering, she enjoys cooking extravagant dishes, baking birthday cakes for friends and family in peculiar shapes, writing depressing poetry about life and death, and unlocking every achievement possible.