My experience with cycling goes back a long way. A twelve-year-old me, scouting around for some sweet steep hills to roll down and some sick jumps to take my sub-par mountain bike off. So, the concept of the Tour De France baffled me. Hundreds of cyclists, donned in lycra, cycling pretty much the length of a country is an incredible feat, but cycling as a concept was totally alien to me. If nothing else, “Le Tour de France 2018” has opened my eyes to the world of cycling and gave me a brief look into how cycling teams strategically cycle to obtain victory. Unfortunately, the tires of this game are pretty much flat.
Le Tour de France 2018 has everything you would expect from a sport game. The race mode is your usual exhibition mode where you pick your stage and riders and through gaining experience, unlock more tours to ride on. Pro Team mode allows you to manage and recruit a team to move up the world rankings on your quest to be world best and Pro Leader see you creating a custom cyclist to work your way to being crowned the king of cycling. Well, maybe not the king but you’ll get a nice jersey. As well as all the usual race modes, challenge mode consists of time trials with 18 medals to achieve. On paper this is all you need for a great sports game. Unfortunately, it’s the general gameplay and aesthetic that brings this game screeching to a halt.
The races themselves are a slog, and I don’t say that lightly. Some tracks may go up to 200Km races which in game time equates to around 45 minutes of cycling. Within that 45 minutes you have an endurance meter that you must keep healthy as usually your effort will be expelled towards the end of the race. Being in a nice comfortable place for at least 40 minutes before being overtaken by around 40 riders on the last dash to the finish can be disheartening and all because you blew yourself out far too early. This isn’t a criticism, quite the opposite as it gives you a genuine feeling of loss. Working so hard for so long only for it to be grabbed away at the last moment. That is competitive sports after all. You can fast-forward through races; however, this will automatically ride you through the level and you could possibly lose some headway during a crucial part of the race.
The gameplay mechanics seem simple at first. Throw in the aspect of team strategy and the ability to call the shots and this is where the game becomes a little more complex. These take a while to get used to, especially if you know absolutely nothing about cycling team strategies. The tutorial is succinct and does its job, but it doesn’t expand too much on the idea of strategy. Unless you’re a cyclist yourself you will have to do some research to attempt to understand these tactics. As a team you can choose which rider to control at any time, allowing you to keep in the positions that you would like as per your plan.
You would think that riding through France, with its beautiful country side and lovely mountain side villages would be an enlightening experience. You would be forgiven for thinking that a cycling game set in a stunning country would have the graphical fidelity to match such breath-taking views. This game is more “Moyenne” than “C’est Magnifique!”. The graphics should be front and centre. Instead they are dull, patchy and horrifically repetitive. On the flip side, there can be many cyclists on the screen at any time without any drops in performance or textures.
Of course, the cycling is the main attraction of this game. Cycling fans will enjoy that all current riders are in the game and are their stats fully customisable, however most cyclers pretty much look the same. The variety, or lack of, lies in the different types of races you encounter throughout the tour. There are the usual marathons and short sprints along with team time trials. The challenge mode offers a very brief reprieve from the usual but with a lack of courses this can be completed very quickly.
Le Tour De France 2018 is a cycle simulator which is detailed in the way it presents itself. Every aspect of cycling is addressed. Unfortunately, there isn’t enough there to keep you interested and if you’re a big fan of cycling you’re probably better digging out the spandex and dusting off your old racing bike in the shed and going outside, rather than simulate it virtually. It looks a lot nicer outside.