Though lacking in the glitz and polish of its four-wheeled racing game cousins, Tour de France 2014 has a good go of bringing cycling action to the masses.
For those of us unfamiliar to the vagaries of tour cycling (and cycling in general), Tour de France introduces you to the different approaches and techniques that go with racing in the world’s most prestigious bike race through a brief tutorial. While this familiarises the mechanics to those who already know about attacking and the like, knowing when to use them is going to be more of a case of running out of stamina a lot until you figure it out yourself. You can pick to play as one of the official teams and compete as one of the riders chasing the yellow jersey, and all 21 stages of the official event can be raced, including York to Sheffield and Cambridge to London. Thankfully you are given the option to edit team and rider names as the publishers haven’t secured an official license – leaving you with Pro Evolution Soccer-esque approximations.
The controls are intuitive and well laid-out, though a little clunky to begin with, especially when you are first getting used to providing instructions to fellow riders. You can also choose to control and switch to fellow members of your team; which, whilst a good idea and keeps the races from getting too monotonous – middle sections are often a bit of a lull, with little action other than a lot of slow pedalling – does feel a little ‘cheaty’ in practice. Other than the main campaign the game supports local multiplayer and a pro team mode where you can compete in multiple seasons, growing your reputation and drawing in better racers to your team. The game’s graphics are a definite update on last year’s, with good cyclist models and some improved scenery, but it certainly lacks the overall graphical fidelity of something like Forza and doesn’t stretch the PS4 at all. The audio, whilst at first adding depth, gets repetitive when you hear looped samples coming from the crowd.
It’s fair to say that slow 100+ km races are never going to be everyone’s cup of tea, but all in all, Tour de France 2014 is the perfect game for fans of the tour and those knowledgeable about tour cycling, and has done a good job on incrementally improving itself from previous iterations.