Review – Le Tour de France 2018
I feel like I need to pre-warn anyone who reads this review that I am by no means a cycling enthusiast. Sure, I rode my bike a lot as a kid and as an adult I have enjoyed a nice easy beach cruiser. But to do it as a sport and to ride 100km+ seems like a horrible time that would be more of a literal pain in my ass than fun. However, I do have a high respect for the people who do because I understand the work and dedication that goes into it. I’ll hit our main review points for this, but the jargon and specifics of the sport will be non existent so please forgive me.
Even if you aren’t a cyclist, you have more than likely heard of Le Tour de France. It is the largest annual sporting event with close to 200 riders who participate in 21 different stages that spans over 23 days. There is a total of 22 teams from around the world that each have 9 riders. There is a lot of strategy and different ways to earn points during an event, so like I mentioned above, I do have a lot of respect for these riders. Unfortunately, the game doesn’t seem to be able to capture any of the rigor and at times danger, that goes along with these rides.
Since this is my very first Le Tour de France game I can’t really state the changes, tweaks, or additions from the previous installment, but this one is just bad. It’s essentially a stamina management game, which to be honest is pretty accurate from what I hear about professional cycling, but it simply doesn’t translate well for a video game. You’ll need to manage your speed and energy output, reserve your gels (consumables to get stamina and power back), and manage wind resistance. Managing wind resistance essentially just comes doing to holding the square button to automatically follow behind another racer. Doing so will help build your power meter and slow down energy exertion so you’ll want to do this a lot and plan to do so with your teammates to alternate and reserve energy.
These systems all seem accurate and they are done simply enough to pick up easily, but there is a learning curve to managing all this. Unfortunately, the novelty wears off extremely fast since majority of the races last a very long time and frankly, become a tedious bore. In fact, your manager who gives advice, even announces that there is a reason they don’t televise much of the flat riding because of how boring it is. Luckily for us, they included a feature to where you can manually fast forward the race (essentially putting your rider into autopilot) or set a pinpoint to the next main checkpoint of the ride so you don’t even need to touch the controller. You’ll more than likely use this feature than actually riding and that speaks volumes about just how boring the moment to moment racing is.
Not only is it a boring grind through races that last entirely too long, but the physics don’t even create interesting scenarios. Out of sheer curiosity (and a bit of ‘who the hell cares at this point’) I decided to test some collision physics and they are non existent. I tried to do a 90° turn directly into another rider and nothing happened. Most of the time it’s like hitting a brick wall that slows you down a bit or you just clip through them. None of the riders even react to me essentially trying to turn this race into Road Rash. I even tried driving off the side of a cliff and again was met with an invisible wall that just bumped me and slowed me down. I honestly can’t even tell you if the riders can crash since nothing I did seemed like it effected anyone.
Now, the physics do come into effect with your speed and turning. When coming up to a turn you’ll have arrows that go from green to red indicating that you should slow down a bit to make the turn. Essentially meaning that you either slow down or run into a wall that slows you down, again still not being able to crash during this. While this mostly works as intended, there is a way to make complete 90° turns going full speed and it looks hilariously silly. Essentially all you need to do is have another rider near you that is turning the corner and you can just hold square near them and you’ll go into the drafting mode that auto follows the rider near you. It may be a gameplay system exploit, but it shows an inherent flaw in the physics system.
There is technically a character career mode where you get to customize a rider, but it’s an extremely basic editor. What I did actually like is their level up system that encourages you to try new things within the races to gain experience points in that specific skill. However, that unfortunately means you have to actually play each race. There is also a Pro Manager where you manage a team, a basic race mode, a track creator, and a challenge mode that was honestly the most fun out of all of them since you can pick some of the shorter races.
As if the gameplay wasn’t disappointing enough, Le Tour de France is just down right bland visually. Every character model and bike look exactly the same besides the color of their team outfits. I was hoping that despite not being a fan of cycling I’d at least be able to enjoy a game that was going to take me through some beautiful vistas, but what I got was far from that.
The soundtrack is equally disappointing, but not devoid of any good songs. There were a couple decent main menu songs that I enjoyed, but the riding was mostly quiet which just added to the monotonous bore. The only actual dialogue comes from your manager who will give you tips during a race and either praise or disappointment after the race. These lines are so poorly acted and delivered though, that it certainly doesn’t help the presentation.
All and all, Le Tour de France 2018 was extremely disappointing and none of it was because I’m not a fan of the sport itself. I don’t even see how an avid cyclist would enjoy this game as it doesn’t represent much realism besides needing to manage your energy levels. If you are an avid cyclist and enjoy the sport, you’d probably enjoy the Pro Cycling Manager 2018 where you can essentially do everything in this game and not be bothered with the bad gameplay.
Bland: that sums up the entire look. The character models, bikes, and animations are all the same for each rider.
The gameplay is more of a stamina manager than it is a racing game which is realistic, but the actual cycling and physics are terribly done.
Not a great soundtrack and the voice acting from you manager is repetitive and poorly done.
Fun Factor: 4.0
There is a decent amount of features, but the gameplay, character creator, and the races themselves make this a chore. I fell asleep during a race.
Final Verdict: 4.5
Reviewed on PS4.
Le Tour de France 2018 is available now on PS4, Xbox One and PC.
A copy of Le Tour de France 2018 was provided by the publisher.