The mechanics of a bicycle race are unique. There are similarities with vehicular racing of course. Larger teams, the stamina needed for cycling, and strategy based around the incline and length of a race make cycling stand out. That’s the thought process behind my interest in Tour de France 2022, and developer Cyanide Studio gets that much right. Unfortunately, there just isn’t a lot else here.
Tour de France 2022: Great Mechanics, Poor Package
If you just look at the controls screen for Tour de France 2022, it’s quite intimidating. Luckily, it’s simple in practice, and the game’s tutorial is effective at putting everything in context. I couldn’t figure out how to pass the Time Trial tutorial, but I didn’t interact with time trials in my playthrough, so it wasn’t a big deal.
Mechanically, Tour de France 2022 feels fun to play. Cyanide Studio did a great job making playing Tour de France feel different than playing other racing games. Momentum feels important and it’s easy to see how to build and maintain it. The stamina system feels natural, and the stamina bar is visually easy to understand. You have two forms of stamina: long term, which is drained over time, and attack stamina, which is used for bursts of speed. The stamina display shows both bars, and at what speed each bar drains, so it’s clear at what speed you need to be at to build it back up. All-in-all, the gameplay experience is great, and when I ride past the crowds on the side of the road, it does genuinely get me hype when they cheer for me.
The team communication options are well implemented, too. You can call out for teammates to make certain movements, or to all surge together to form a breakaway. If you’re in the back of the pack, you can switch to a teammate who is farther ahead or closer to the action. All of this makes the actual experience of racing in Tour de France 2022 very satisfying.
Stuck In a Low Gear
Here’s the thing, though: bicycle races are long. Perhaps too long. While you have the option to fast forward mid-race to skip past less dramatic stretches, Tour de France suffers from taking too long in a lot of aspects. Which stands out even more because there is very little to do besides race. Plus, while you’re interacting with the single player modes, the game wastes so much of your time by not letting you play.
One of the game’s two major single-player modes, is a great example. Pro Team is meant to be the sort of manager mode. You start a season with a budget, and draft 6 cyclists for your team. Except you can only spend money at the beginning of each race season to hire more guys. The money you don’t spend is saved until next race season, which can then be used to… hire more guys.
The system is against you. You are locked out of 80% of the races initially. You unlock access to more races as your rank improves. That rank is hard to maintain, though. Even if your team has one great race, it’s hard to stay above other teams who have access to the races you don’t. This same type of system locks you out of hiring better racers. Cyclists with high stats will only race for you if your team holds a certain rank. Of course, this makes it even harder for your team’s rank to improve.
I simulated 4 or 5 seasons on the easiest difficulty without unlocking access to any new races and few new racers. There are no training options to improve your racers either. It’s bare bones.
Tour de France 2022 Review Verdict
Tour de France 2022 is mechanically rich game in a disappointing package. It’s single player game modes lack significant features and basic things, like the ability to skip over races you aren’t in rather than simulate each one. There’s a nugget here, and if you can find Tour de France 2022 on sale, I think it’s worth checking out. However, the game offers so little that it’s hard to recommend even at $39.99.