Sports bring people together. You can be from different backgrounds, have alternative beliefs, but this matters not! Whenever people in a room love a particular sport, it unifies them. Yet, there is one divisive sport that can be performed on the track or the road. Travelling in packs, these sportspeople rile every other road user. I am, of course, talking about cycling. Men and women cover their bodies with lycra and then fill the roads with their two-wheeled machines. Whether you love them or loathe them, you admire their determination and the fitness levels required to compete. Tour de France 2021 captures the competitive element perfectly while allowing you to take part in the world’s most gruelling races.
Developed by Cyanide and published by BIGBEN INTERACTIVE and Nacon, this is an ultra-realistic sporting simulation title. It’s a brutally challenging racing game that will test your tactical approach, mental stamina, and team management. You will take in many stunning landscapes as you race across different countries.
Tour de France 2021 is a time-consuming beast.
If you are a fan of road races, you’ll know these events are long and arduous. Tour de France 2021 is no different. If you love to be in control and influence each race, you’ll be investing hours of your life on each tour. Most events have several stages and each comprises hundreds of kilometres of roads to cover. You must ride your bike from start to finish focusing on many stats and teamwork. Races can take hours to complete and during this time you can not let your guard drop once.
Now, you may think, “that does not sound fun!” I admit, for large chunks, I’d agree with that statement. However, it’s oddly addictive and you grasp the sense of competition as each racer jostles for position. The game is simple to play, which is great as your energy is saved for each battle that lies ahead. The gameplay is split across five modes; race, practice, my tour, pro team, and pro leader. Each uses the same mechanics, but the core focus shifts depending on which mode you select.
Ultra-realistic with plenty to get your teeth into.
Now, you may call me greedy, but when I buy a game, I want as much bang for my buck. Tour de France 2021 is certainly generous in this department. With eighty-nine stages to choose from, a plethora of teams to ride with, and stats to maintain, this is one that enthusiasts will love. Yet, I can’t help but worry that its desire to be challenging and realistic will alienate a large portion of players.
With stages taking up hours of your life, and a complex team order system, this can be overwhelming. Keen cyclists will surely adore the chance to compete across the great mountain stages. But other sports fans may not appreciate the complexities. I struggled to maintain concentration for long periods, allowing myself to lose my race position while admiring the scenery.
It was tough to focus on each stat and command a team of cyclists when you didn’t know everyone’s strengths or weaknesses. As you ride, you are expected to maintain red and blue energy levels, speed, and road position. It’s difficult to do and you must plan when to attack or stay with the peloton. Ensuring you don’t burn out is imperative to success. Consuming gels and hiding in the pack keeps you in peak condition. It’s a wonderful game of cat and mouse, but it takes a lot of patience and practice to get right.
Are you a loner, or are you a team player?
What I loved about Tour de France 2021 was the tactical element. Each game mode allows a different focus, and this was key to keeping me entertained. The race mode allows you to jump into a team, earn XP, and open up each of the grand tours. My Tour lets you pick a unique tour made of any style of race or location. It’s perfect for veteran gamers to revisit their favourite stages while still competing. And then there is Pro Team and Pro Leader. These modes follow a similar focus, one concentrates on the success of the whole team, the other on a lone rider. You must choose your riders from an available roster, pick your specialists and decide what team you like to run. As you earn more points and you improve, you’ll build a better team to compete with the best.
The Pro modes were great with so many layers to focus on. Yet with no short races and no way to skip forward without jeopardising your race plan, every step forward was long and time-consuming. If you decide to take this on, be prepared for the long slog ahead.
Tour de France 2021 looks stunning.
I love when a developer creates a stunning world to look at and Cyanide has done just that. With plenty of time on your hand, you’ll enjoy quaint French villages and many glorious landscapes. Rolling hills, rugged mountainsides and quintessential towns have all been recreated beautifully. Player animation is equally good with the character models and bikes moving smoothly at all times. I was impressed with the smooth gameplay which wasn’t impacted even when the peloton was packed with riders. Sadly, though, it wasn’t perfect. If you ride close to the edge of the road your bike simply stops. You can’t run wide and there are no falling mechanics, no, you just stop. For an ultra-realistic title, it was disappointing and tarnished the end product.
At first glance, the audio appears to be very good. With fantastic atmospheric sounds, crowds cheering, and noises you’d associate with the sport. But, when you listen to the audio closely, you realise it’s not great. The crowd sound file is on a loop of repeated sayings and the shouts from the crowd are the same. When a game asks you to invest plenty of time into it, the minimum you expect is varied audio. I was disappointed as this also affected the realism factors.
A brilliantly thought out controller setup.
Tour de France 2021 asks you to focus on many elements, which could be a confusing mess. Fortunately, the developers created a balanced and well thought out control setup. I particularly enjoyed the coasting option that allows you to follow teammates or other riders. This allows the race to drift by as you ride in the pack to conserve energy and wait for the breakaway. It was brilliant and allowed you time to plan your attack.
Cycling games attract a niche audience and this title is no different. Yes, the Olympics and the main tours will pique interest. But this will only inspire keen fans of the genre and the sport to part ways with their cash. If you fall for its lycra wearing sweaty charms, you’ll be dome obsessed with it. Otherwise, you’ll probably want to give it a miss. There is plenty of longevity to be had, which is helped in part by a large and challenging achievement list.
Tour de France 2021: A brilliant time-consuming niche title.
I was disappointed by its drawbacks as these tainted the experience. However, it’s a great realistic sports title that is great value for money. It will only attract a niche audience but those who love it will rave about it. It wasn’t a game that captured my attention but I can see why others will love it. If you like a challenging racing sim, or you enjoy cycling, buy it here! Grab your lycra, select your team, and be crowned King of the Mountains.