July 05, 2013
I bloody love cycling. Bicycles, tarmac, skinny dudes with one testicle and a penchant for dodgy drugs - it’s got everything. I even have a poster of Bradley Wiggins on my bedroom wall, his Lycra’d lunchbox looming over me as I sleep.
That’s nonsense, of course. I haven’t got a clue about cycling. Despite getting briefly wrapped up in Wiggo-mania last year, I still don’t really know the difference between a peloton and a pelican. So when Tour de France 2013 dropped through my letterbox late last week, I though why not, eh?
The reasoning was that I might have some fun, see some nice views of Europe and maybe even learn something about how the stupidly complicated Tour de France works. But here’s what I learned: Tour de France 2013 is rubbish.
It doesn’t start well. At the beginning of the game you're offered a choice of riders, from a list of what I presumed were the stars of the Tour. Except they’re not. In Tour de France 2013, Bradley Wiggins is called Braulio Waggons. No doubt the other stars have similarly ludicrous pseudonyms.
The game is full of these signs of cheapness. Its roadside assets - the crowd and cars - are terrible, while the views themselves are dull and uninvolving; a great waste considering the attractive countryside through which the Tour travels. About as attractive as Wayne Rooney in a mankini and about as animated as one of his granny girlfriends, Tour de France 2013 is one of the ugliest games I’ve seen this generation.
This is defensible, perhaps, when you consider that developer Cyanide was no doubt given a small budget to deliver a game with a limited audience, but the poor quality doesn’t stop with the visuals. It’s painfully designed, horribly complicated and agonisingly dull.
The menus are overflowing with annotations in an attempt to educate you on the various stats and options on offer, but instead of assisting you, it’s just confusing. You’re thrown in at the deep end and left to drown in numbers and notes. If you don’t know how the Tour de France works this is the very last place to start.
Once on your bike and out on the road, it gets worse. The tactical maneuvers of a Tour de France leg may be fascinating to those in the know, but it's bloody boring if you don’t. You just trudge along, finger clamped down on the trigger as mile after mile of dull environments slip by. There’s not even a soundtrack to liven things up.
Instead what you get is the musings of your hilariously crap manager bloke, who sounds exactly like a Welsh fighter pilot chatting over the radio in his Spitfire. He even barks things like, “There’s an attack!” every now and again, despite the on-screen action being about as exciting as dinner time at an old people’s home.
Each leg goes on forever, so much so that comedy Welsh man will even say words to the effect of “You might as well fast forward this bit because it’s dull.” And that’s exactly what you can do, skipping forward to cut down on the endless boredom of actually taking part in it. It’s probably the game’s best feature.
Elsewhere, he genuinely says “I’m going to take a nap, wake me when something interesting happens.” Which just about sums it up.
All of this laziness, dullness and lack of creativity is best displayed in the achievement list, which will almost certainly be picking up a “Biggest Bag of Shite” award later this year. It’s ridiculous. There are 26 achievements in total, a massive 21 of them simply offering up 30G for completing each stage. The rest are just awards for picking up jerseys. Awful.
If you’re deep into cycling and understand the tactics and strategy involved with the real Tour de France, maybe you’ll get something out of this game. But if you’re a gamer who is looking for something a bit different to add to your collection, there’s literally nothing in Tour de France 2013 for you. I’d rather slam my nuts in the front door than ever have to play it again. Braulio Waggons can do one.
Sparse. There’s some noodly light jazz over the menus, but other than that all you’re going to hear is air whooshing past you and the crazed ramblings of your manager.
Shoddy. The models of the riders aren’t too bad, but the environments and roadside bits and bobs look terrible. Despite a new engine, it’s a poor looking game.
Dull. With long races marked by vast stretches of relative inactivity, you’d be hard pressed to find a less involving game. About as exciting as a baked potato.
Messy. There’s menus and options and stats all over the place but they’re poorly explained and confusing. The 21 mind-numbing official stages in total, making it a slog. At least you can fast forward through them though.
Awful. One of the very worst lists we’ve ever seen, and we’ve seen a hell of a lot of lists. The worst kind of laziness. The tiles are ugly as sin too.
Cheap, poorly designed and worst of all, crushingly boring, Tour de France 2013 is about as classy as some cut out and keep Bradley Wiggins mutton chops and half as fun.