Le Tour De France 2015 is yet another instalment of the Tour De France franchise, which is a series of games about competitive cycling in the annual Tour De France event. As expected, it is a racing game, and you compete with many other racers to win a series of races. Basically, this game takes all the qualities of a standard car-racing game, but takes out all the excitement of high-speed racing and epic customization of your vehicle. Don’t get me wrong – it’s certainly not a bad game; it just can’t compete with all the modern titles. As a gamer who played a lot of car-racing games as a child, playing this game is highly underwhelming for me. However, if you are really into cycling or the Tour De France itself, then this is definitely the game for you. For a cycling game, this title does actually require a lot of strategy and it can be a lot of fun if you are into cycling.
How The Game Works
In this game, you control an entire team of cyclists racing in the 2015 Tour De France. You will endeavor many races and overcome many obstacles to get the gold. You can only focus on one individual at a time (the person you are directly controlling), but there are also other ways for you to control the rest of your team to help lead you to victory. Similar to real life, the biggest factor of this game is energy – you definitely have to keep an eye on that if you want to claim victory. Also similar to real life, the faster the pedal and the more hills you climb, the more quickly your energy will drop (in the game it is shown as a gauge). Energy can be regained as well by slowing down or by trailing another competitor (but be careful, because if that player is going fast, you can also lose energy that way too). The goal of the game, obviously, is to win the race; but there are several missions you can also work on as well, depending on the team you chose and the specific race you selected.
The Overall Good
For one, there are way more controls than I expected. I would never have guessed that a cycling game would actually have controls other than a button to pedal, a button to break, and using the L control stick to change your direction. However, there is much more to this game than just that. On the standard Xbox One controller, RT is used to pedal and LT is used to brake, but other controls include a button to press and hold in order to trail another competitor (X button), a button that you can rapidly press to attack (which is used to speed up really fast to gain on some competitors) (A button), a button that allows you to consume an energy drink or gel to regain some energy or attack, and interestingly enough, a button that opens up an entire command center for the player and his teammates (B). In this command center, the player can give commands to other players, such as a command to attack. In addition, from this command center, you can select and individual teammate and change your character in the middle of the race (Y button). Changing your character is really handy, especially when you’re someone like me, who doesn’t know what he’s doing, and wastes his whole energy gauge at the beginning of the race and has to change his character to someone else who has more energy.
Also, the team and event you choose depend on the missions you must complete. It’s an interesting way to keep the player attentive in the game by giving the player a specific goal to focus on during the race.
You can also pick the map and see the terrain. Before and during each race, you can look at a graph that shows how hilly the map is. In addition, if you are in-game, you can see the same graph that shows where you currently are in the race. It’s convenient for looking at what terrain lies ahead and helps you decide whether or not you should save some of your energy. If you also look at the bottom-right corner of the screen, you can see the exact calculated slope of the hill you are on.
In addition, you can easily get ahead in the race. Even though it may bite you in the butt later on, you can surpass a huge bulk of people by simply attacking for a few seconds.
Finally, the most interesting quality that this game has is all the factors that you have to keep an eye on during the race. As stated before, energy is the most important thing to look out for in this game. However, other factors include the energy drink/gel you can consume in the feed zone during the race, the hilly terrain, the length of the race, the number of turns the track has, being able to trail someone effortlessly, and being able to command your teammates / change your character mid-race. Even the wind plays a factor in this game! Headwinds can hold you back and slow you down if they are strong enough (thereby consuming more of your energy), and you can hide behind or to the side of players to prevent the wind from having a negative impact on you. Therefore, this game requires a lot of planning and strategy.
The Overall Bad
Now to move on to where this game went wrong. The first thing I noticed when I played this game was that the screen was visually noisy. Take a look at the photo above. The screen is cluttered with things like your speed, the terrain graph, your attack gauge, your energy gauge, the place you’re in, wind speed, and your name – all crammed into the bottom-right corner of the screen. Most of it is useful, but seeing all of this as a beginner is really overwhelming.
Also, the races can be really long and really boring. The first race I played took about 3 minutes to get through. The second race I played took about a half hour. This game just doesn’t have my attention for a whole half hour of gameplay, there’s far too little action going on. You casually ride around for a half hour and occasionally pass by a huge crowd of screaming fans despite there being anything interesting actually happening whatsoever.
While you may be able to easily get ahead in the race, you can also lose your place just as fast. There’s always this huge bulk of about 30 racers that stay together the whole race. Then, there are about the top 5 ahead of them spread out, and the rest behind the huge bulk spread out. When playing this game (on easy mode of course), I found myself always between the huge bulk of competitors and the top 5. If I had to slow down for a second, I would easily go from 6th place to 31st place. It’s a real downer to watch that happen.
Speaking of that crowd, the huge bulk of people can be insanely annoying. If you get caught in the crowd, not only can you lose your place really quickly, but also lose your ability to attack. Without your attack, there’s no easy way to get to the head of the pack, and you just have to wait until the crowd diverts a bit. It’s a good time to trail someone and read a book while you hold X.
Even though this game has its flaws, I still would not consider it a bad game. For a cycling game, however, I must say that I did enjoy myself a bit. I also, unfortunately, can’t compare it to the previous instalments as I’ve never played them, so throw me a bone with that one (or should I say, throw me a baguette). Will I ever ask my friends to come over and play this game with me in a multiplayer match? Probably not. It’s simply not exciting enough for me to want to play this game on a regular basis. I wouldn’t consider it the ride of my life. However, even though the bad pretty much equals out the good, I was actually highly impressed with how good a cycling game can be. If you ever play a cycling game in your lifetime, it should be this one. It definitely puts in the realistic obstacles that real competitors would have to overcome and the game itself requires a lot of strategy and planning.