Reviewed by Sam aka FIFA Brit
Tour de France 2019 is a game that was released on the 27th of June as the latest installment of the Tour de France series. It was developed by Cyanide Studio and published by Bigben Interactive. Now, ever since the United Kingdom started to lowkey ~dominate~ the Tour de France, I’ve been trying to follow competitive cycling a bit more, but this was my first experience playing a cycling video game, unless you count those semi virtual reality exercise bikes that you see in gyms.
Nevertheless, I was really excited to dive into this game. Now, while I have been paying attention to competitive cycling, I still wasn’t super knowledgeable about cycling team race tactics, which are a pretty big part of this game. So before I even started playing, I loaded up the tutorial, which was really helpful. For about a minute or so.
For some reason, the game would not let me get past the second level. Even now, I don’t understand what else I was supposed to do. Because of this, I was forced to enter the game, now with a low understanding of the game mechanics as well as cycling in general. I decided that the best place for me to start was was the pro leader gamemode, because creating a cyclist seemed fun at least. But, it kinda wasn’t? All you could do was fill out general info and do basic level customization, and for me personally this could have been so much better with more control over the appearance of the rider.
However, I didn’t want to let any of this influence my opinion of the game. In all fairness, my troubles with the tutorial were almost certainly my own fault, and at the end of the day this isn’t a game about customization, it’s a game about cycling. To pass judgment before trying any actual cycling would be a disservice to the game. And so, I set out to do just that, cycle. And honestly, it was really really fun at first. I managed to take the lead fairly quickly and then I just kinda sat back and enjoyed the countryside. Unfortunately, after a while, my cyclist got tired, and I was very quickly overtaken. I tried slowing down to get more energy, but then I just kept falling further and further behind. And then, I realized, I had barely gotten into the race.
My initial impression of Tour de France 2019 was that it was ultimately too good at what it wanted to be. It is first and foremost a cycling simulator, but it’s almost too realistic to be enjoyed by casual fans. Don’t get me wrong, it is not a bad game. I just thought it was meant for hardcore cycling fans who would understand the strategies needed to win a race and who wouldn’t mind spending 30-40 minutes on a single stage with what ultimately feels like realistic but repetitive gameplay. I didn’t think it could truly be appreciated by someone who wasn’t super into cycling.
For example, I have no doubt that the tracks are painstakingly recreated to match the courses traveled in the real Tour de France, but as someone who has watched a grand total of maybe 30 minutes of that race in his lifetime, I would never be able to appreciate the effort that went into that design process. I also don’t understand cycling strategy, and so trying to play the race like a typical driving game didn’t work. Again, I need to reiterate, I didn’t think this was a bad game, I just didn’t think it was made for someone like me. But then, I checked out the challenge mode. And wow, did my impression of this game take a turn for the better after that.
Challenge mode is a new feature in this year’s Tour de France game that allows you to take on specific tasks such as sprinting, catching up, or conserving energy. Each challenge has different difficulty modes, meaning that you can up the ante if you manage to succeed pretty easily at first. This game mode changed everything I thought about this game. Whether it was made for this purpose or not, challenge mode is the perfect entertainment for casual gamers like myself. The races are short, taking a few minutes rather than half an hour, and you don’t need to master all the mechanics to do well, only the ones that the challenge is specifically testing you on. It’s short, it’s fun, and it kept me coming back again and again and again until I won. That’s the mark of a good game.
Ultimately, I do still believe it’s a game meant for hardcore cycling fans. However, I absolutely do believe that casuals can and will enjoy this game if they start with challenge mode races and use those to learn how to play the full races properly. However, all my words mean nothing compared to the cold, hard, numbers. Let’s break it down.
All in all, it’s worth buying if you want to have a fun time, but don’t be surprised if you find yourself drawn back to your usual favorites after a while.
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