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Alright, as you all might know if you’ve followed my reviews, I will sometimes take on a game that is decidedly not in my wheelhouse at all. Broadens the general gaming experience, so to speak. As such, when Tour de France 2017 crossed the existential surface of my ethereal wooden desk, I decided to give it a go. What followed was an excellent game that I am literally terrible at, lol.
There is no real story in Tour de France 2017. There is a campaign mode, and you could extrapolate the story of a beleaguered national team trying to win but floundering due to the ineptitude of their manager (as I did), but hopefully your story is a bit more cheerful.
The gameplay is really where Tour de France 2017 shines. Everything about this game screams realism. Every little nuance of actual competitive bike riding is taken into account here.
First off, there are several modes: Tour mode, wherein you select one of twenty two teams to compete in the tour from Dauphine or Triptyque, although more races are unlocked as you gain points; Pro mode, where you are a sponsored riding team and have racing seasons as well. Obviously as you race, you will be able to upgrade your team making them more competitive; Challenge mode which is essentially just time trials gainst yourself or others online; My Tour which is a stage editing and creation tool; Editor, which allows you to edit your racer’s names and ratings, National teams, and starting lineups; Training mode, which is as in depth as you could possibly get regarding the ins and outs of racing.
Personally, as a terrible digital bike rider, I mostly stuck with Tour mode, as it allowed me to really start to understand the nuances of racing in a way even the deep training mode couldn’t teach. The first lesson I learned: be in it for the long haul. The compulsive desire to go as fast as possible and take/maintain the lead isn’t as important as monitoring your racer’s energy and recovery meters. Taking the long view in these races is a must….and the races ARE long. As you can imagine, these are exact replicas of their real life counterparts, and while it might not take you hours upon hours to complete these stages, it will still take quite a while to ride the digital equivalent of 200 kilometers.
So, you are a racing team, and as such, you can select your primary racer and yet also control what the other racers are doing. If you’ve ever watched a real race, you know that teams basically function to make sure that a chosen rider wins the race with everybody else providing support. The tactical elements that make this a reality in Tour de France 2017 are definitely not something I have yet to master, but trying to figure it all out has been fun.
You will be equipped with a pair of invisible bottles (the bottles don’t actually appear in the game although the controls to use them are basically like potions in other games and function the same way) that will restore your energy and recovery. In longer races, these will refill once or twice (possibly more, but twice was the max so far in the races I’ve played through).
So, as I mentioned before, monitoring your energy and recovery meters are essential. The faster or harder you race, the more those become depleted, and if you run out of energy completely, your racer overheats and can’t do anything but sit and pedal at an insanely slow pace. This WILL cause you to lose every race if you don’t mediate that. The aforementioned bottles help, but also simply controlling your speed or drafting behind another rider will be more effective, and inn the case of the drafting behind a rider, it will generally allow you to slowly refill your meters since you aren’t facing any wind resistance and can ride easy.
Recovery basically allows you to maintain faster pedaling for longer stretches, but once that is depleted, you start to rely solely on energy, and that will drain very fast if you are pushing things at all. Once your recovery is fully drained, you will start losing a lot of races, since your energy will drain, you’ll overheat forcing you to slow to a snail’s pace, and it becomes a vicious cycle of racing incompetency, lol.
The whole time you are racing, you will be getting updates from your team leader as well as tips as to what you SHOULD be doing.
Anyway, I can keep on going on and on and on. there really is so much detail here that you would almost be better served watching some actual races before jumping into this game, but the training section does a good job of preparing you regardless.
I didn’t encounter any glitches or other issues while playing.
All told, I would say the gameplay is exactly what it was intended to be and handles its task to near perfection. 9.5 out of 10.
The graphics in Tour de France 2017 are nice. Certainly, they are nothing to “ooh and aww” over, but they are pleasant to look at and definitely carry the feel of biking events.
7 out of 10
Audio in Tour de France 2017 is quite well done. From the commentators to the ambient sounds of the race, there is absolutely nothing to complain about. In fact, the team manager gets a bit uppity at times, giving you the verbal slap down when you don’t do well (which for me was often), and that is actually pretty hilarious. The actual voice work in general is believable and approachable for a sporting game.
8 out of 10
If you are a bike racing fan or simply curious about such things, Tour de France 2017 is definitively a game you need to own. It is as authentic as it possibly could be and will provide you with hundreds of hours of fun.
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