Format – PS4
Version – 1.01
The Tour De France is one of the major events of the sporting calendar each year. An epic feat of sporting prowess, most of us would have absolutely no chance of completing, the cyclists put themselves through the most punishing of races, taking in thousands of kilometres and some crazy mountains, sometimes with the help of some spicy beef (sadly not a controversial inclusion here!).
The question here though is can it possibly translate to a decent video game? Is Tour De France 14 more drug-fuelled super-cyclist or Sunday cyclist ambling through some gentle countryside? The answer falls somewhere between the two, leaning more towards the latter.
Coming into this, I honestly had no idea at all what to expect. I’m not a cycling fan at all in the sporting sense (I don’t mind doing the odd bit of the aforementioned Sunday ambling on a nice day), and although I know a little about the sport through friends who are huge fans, I couldn’t imagine this being an enjoyable game.
As it is, you get to select from a long list of teams and riders (most with fake names sadly, Wiggo being one of them – Braulio Waggons! – although you can edit them if you really want to), with different specialities and abilities, and then you go out onto the stages of this year’s Tour (incidentally containing stages in the UK).
I was expecting this might be more a management sim (and there is indeed a management mode call Pro Team where you can build your dream cycling team over a few seasons), but in the main portion of the game you take your cyclist through each stage. As the stages tend to be long, this involves managing stamina, selecting some nutrition to take with you, deciding when to charge forward, draft behind other cyclists and if/when to break from the peloton. There are also mountain and sprint sections that earn you points towards the respective King of the Mountain and sprint jerseys. You can also give orders to your chosen team, to attack, or assist you etc.
Whilst this actually plays fairly well, my major issue with it in terms of gameplay is that it just isn’t very exciting. The stages really are long, and can take quite some time to get through. The good aspect of this is that you really do have to ride tactically. Go off in a blaze of pedals and lycra, and you simply won’t make it to the end of the stage. Speed has to be managed carefully too, especially braking round the tighter corners. If you crash, it’s not quite as dramatic as in real life fortunately, resulting in a remarkable broken bone-free restart, but one crash could cost you a significant amount of time. But while tactics are all well and good, Tour De France is at its core a racing game, and tactics aside it simply can’t compete with other games in the genre in any meaningful way.
Perhaps the biggest issue is us as gamers. We’re conditioned to want to win everything; first place is the goal. But here, when aiming for that yellow jersey, winning isn’t a necessity. More important is your overall time, so as long as you’re there abouts, you’re in with a chance of victory. Winning each race isn’t necessarily the best approach. The flaw may be ours (or maybe even just mine!), but whatever the case, the simple truth is that my desire to win each stage was at times in conflict with the overall aim. More importantly though, the all-important fun and excitement factor of racing just isn’t there.
If it’s not exactly the most thrilling experience out there, it’s not the most eye-searingly beautiful either. I played on PS4, but graphically it resembles a pretty average-looking PS3 game. Perhaps the sheer length of the stages introduced some limitations but I couldn’t get any more excited about the graphics than the gameplay. I also noticed screen judder on a number of occasions, which given the level of the graphics was disappointing.
The Good Stuff
- Full selection of teams even if many of the names aren’t real
- Clever representation of the Tour
- You have to strategise your approach to each stage, just going all out will end in failure
The Bad Stuff
- Graphics are underwhelming
- Screen judder on occasions
- Lacking in both fun and excitement
It’s difficult to see who would want to buy this game outside of anyone who is a huge cycling fan, although if you really fancy a different take on the racing genre that’s taken at a sedate pace, and requires a lot of strategy then give it a try. If you are a massive fan though and you like the idea of completing the Tour from the comfort of your living room then it’s worth a try.
Tour De France 2014 isn’t a bad game, it just earns the rather dubious honour of being a little bit meh, mainly due to the sport it’s attempting to represent. It sadly just does not translate all that well to a video game. Lacking in excitement, there’s little to no draw to return to it, stages seems to drag on for too long (which is realistic in all fairness), and sadly it can’t fall back on technical prowess to pull it through either as the graphics are far from brilliant, and I experienced noticeable screen judder several times.
Technical Competency – 6/10
Graphic Quality – 5/10
Entertainment Value – 5/10
Sound Quality – 6/10
Network Stability – N/A
Overall Quality Grade – 5/10