Tour de France 2017 is a fairly in depth cycling simulator on the surface that gives players the opportunity of fulfilling their dream of the long haul bike ride of champions, as long as that’s your thing of course. So if you are a long time enthusiastic fan of watching the event on TV but you’ve never had the opportunity to become a cycling legend then this game is most definitely for you, but if you have no interest in anything related to Tour de France, then stay well away. To say that this game is an acquired taste would be an understatement because it certainly has all the aspects you would expect from a game of this type, it just doesn’t have the finesse that’s it’s clearly aiming for.
There are management options galore in this game and it doesn’t stop at that in the pre race game menus either as there is also a huge emphasis on resource management throughout the races too and it’s here that the game unfortunately started to lose my interest. There is no doubting that Tour de France 2017 has a wealth of options and team management involved here and it’s apparent that the resource management system can go pretty deep but it just doesn’t have that quality of gameplay or visual style to go with that amount of attention to detail. It’s because of that fact, that it sadly makes the depth seem irrelevant as the pay off of the preparation before any of the races or tours is sadly let down by an underwhelming mess that’s about as exciting as listening to a chess match on the radio.
The options and game modes available are few and far between with the main campaign being the tour and the rest just made up of challenges and custom races that you can play with your friends in local multiplayer. It’s worth noting that there isn’t any online options in this game at all which seems to be a strange decision, especially for a racing simulator, but this could be something that is added later on through an update, although nothing has been mentioned by the developer that any online features will be added to the game at a later date. There are a wealth of options to customise teams and standings though that add to the in depth management system that I mentioned earlier and there are a wide range of teams that you can choose to represent when you initially start up the main tour. You are not only able to pick your team but also your rider too which you are able to switch further in to the tour if you choose to. The core single player modes are here but I feel that there is a missed opportunity by leaving out any kind of online multiplayer option. The offline co-op and local multiplayer options are a nice addition but this game could of been significantly improved with any kind of online race option, even if it was just an eight player tour mode that incorporated the resource management system from the single player with slightly shorter routes to eliminate any kind of fatigue and players quitting.
It has to be said that for the amount of racers on the screen at once at certain times with only a couple of minor frame rate drops was pretty impressive, but with a game looking this basic and I’m sorry to say rather dull, I wouldn’t expect anything less than a solid frame rate at least. The visuals in this game aren’t terrible but they’re certainly not of the quality that has come to be expected on current generation consoles, especially for a game that has been given a triple A price point of £39.99. The character models are blocky and for some reason all seem to have the same generic faces and the scenery has a copy and paste look to it that just isn’t very pleasing on the eye at all and resembles something of a very early Xbox 360 game.
It comes as a huge disappointment as the races can go on for a hefty length of time and with all of the resource management involved like stamina, energy and tactical pacing I would have liked some beautiful sceneries and gleaming sunshine lighting effects to give me that incentive to keep going but it all just looks dreary and disappointing and when races can last around 30 minutes plus, it all becomes a little tiresome and boring to not only play but to look at too. The collision system is incredibly inconsistent as well, when hitting a fellow rider seems to make your rider almost go through them and merge with them as if there is a glitch in the collisions and hitting obstacles has no impact detection at all as it just brings your rider to a bit of a slow down rather than making the collision impactful or damaging to the movement, but it does very little at all. The audio is pretty much non existent apart from the introductions to each tour and odd piece of commentary throughout the race, there really is only the odd cheer from a small crowd or a gust of wind as you go around the corner that does nothing to the overall atmosphere of what is already a dreary experience.
The gameplay of Tour de France 2017 is pretty basic at its core, as you have your regular steering, accelerate and braking mechanics along with the resources to manage that I mentioned earlier, where you can manage energy levels depending on what kind of route is in front of you. If you are going on an uphill heavy route, you need to make sure that you manage your stamina efficiently without using up too much of your main energy and using your aggressive energy on sprint sections while still overseeing your stamina gauge and this should all work pretty well, challenging your ability to take all of this into consideration while riding but as much as it works, it’s incredibly boring and a bit of a chore. What lets this game down dramatically though is it’s incredibly dull gameplay that lacks any kind of adrenaline rush or any kind of excitement, so much so that I would find myself sprinting more than I should using up all of my energy and therefore having to wait a while before it regenerated so I could gain my place back at the front.
The lack of any kind of satisfaction while playing this game really tested my patience and this game seems as if it can only be enjoyed if you have an infinite amount of patience and don’t want anything too challenging or exciting from what is essentially a racing simulator. The braking system isn’t tuned enough for it to be useful as I would often just ease my finger off the acceleration to maintain my momentum as just slightly pressing the brake seemed to bring my rider to a complete halt, making the braking system useless. You may think that I am being overly harsh on a game based on a sport that relies on having patience and doesn’t involve much excitement and that may be the case but if you are going to make a video game out of something like this then there needs to be tweaks to it that add some kind of escapism from the real world which is essentially what video games are about, are they not?