Cycling is a fast-paced sport that challenges riders to make the correct decision at a moment’s notice. A single bike racing tour consists of long, grueling stages day after day. To survive, you must conserve your energy and plan your attacks strategically. Patience is key as not every day is an attack day, and many choices need to be considered before you leave the starting line. You can take advantage of others by drafting your rider behind them to conserve energy and use their slipstream to break ahead. Tour de France 2019 is the latest edition to the console franchise, and upgrades to gameplay and graphics create a beautiful and enjoyable experience. To achieve victory, you must put together the correct combination of riders and strategy to be atop the podium. You will encounter stages of all difficulty levels. Flat, hilly and mountainous routes will be on your menu. Conserve energy, use your team and plan attacks accordingly. Let’s get into my review of Tour de France 2019.
The challenge of Tour de France 2019 is to understand cycling strategy. Before you begin a tour, you need to have clear goals on what you are trying to accomplish. You need to decide on what team you want to tour with. Is it Astana or Quik Step? Are you going to make a run at the general classification? Do you want to be the tour sprint champion, or grind it out over the mountains and take hold of the polka dot jersey? All of these questions come in to play before you even clip into the pedals. Despite all of those options, the key to it all in cycling is patience.
The game offers a variety of modes to choose from. One is the Challenge mode where you can test your cycling skills against a high score in sprint or downhill challenges. These challenges help you learn how to use the controls of the game and also how to manage the terrain at different speeds.
The Pro Team portion of the game is exciting for those community members who are passionate about the sport of cycling. In this game mode, you start with a clean roster and budget. You must make the best use of your funds and purchase six riders to join your custom team. Next, you need to assess your goals for the team and decide which strengths and weakness each rider will have to move your team through each stage of the tours. As you progress and perform well in stages, you can choose to sell riders and then purchase others to improve your overall team strength.
Pro Leader mode allows you to operate as a single cyclist. Your goal in Pro Leader is to make the national team for the World Championships. This is achieved by working your way up and gaining points to improve your abilities.
I was very impressed to see the amount of variety Tour de France 2019 has available. There is enough variety to keep the game fresh and allows you the opportunity to race in additional tours other than the Tour De France. The list of these includes the Tour of Flanders, Paris-Roubaix, Paris-Nice and the Criterium du Dauphine.
Overall, gameplay is great. There are specific times during each stage that need to be coordinated by your team. Due to the speed at some points in a stage, the UI allows you to pause the game and set up how you want to attack the moment. I was impressed with how fluid the team communication design is and the ease with which this is handled by the user. For most of each stage, you are concerned with strategy and the conservation of your team’s energy. In long stages, this can seem a bit stale, but the fast forward option allows the player to move through the stage without losing much control of how the race is progressing. You still have the ability to prepare your lead-outs and setup your final sprint into the finish line.
Now, in terms of being successful in each stage, there is a bit of a learning curve. The gameplay can move fast, and switching from rider to rider and maintaining your speed can be a bit challenging. One misstep on your speed can be the difference between first and fifth place. Learning tactics of cycling will help ease your mind through each stage, and choosing whether or not to break away or attack can determine your success. Remember, patience is the key to victory.
The design team of Tour de France 2019 did a brilliant job with the landscape, roads and cyclists. The only thing I did notice was the character faces were all the same or very similar. Some variety to their faces would open up the game graphically. As you ride through each stage, you are able to appreciate the landscape and differences between flat, hilly and mountainous stages. There was never a time I felt the graphics were subpar or did not fit the style of game.
Opening each stage, you are briefed by your team manager and his description of the stage. There is room for improvement in this category. Adding in color commentary from real Tour de France commentators like Paul Leggett and Bob Roll would liven up stage races and prevent long rides from becoming stale. Although this would be a tough task, it would be a great step forward at this point in the franchise. Sound effects of bicycles sound great, including the sounds at high speeds and descents. Realistic crowds in the road on long climbs mimic the passion of the Tour de France.
The hardest part for those who embark on the Tour de France 2019 will be the length of the stages. The Tour de France consists of 21 stages and each stage will take you around 45 minutes to an hour to complete. However, you do have the ability to fast forward through the stage and shorten the playtime. You can slow it down when you’re preparing and taking part in sprints. All teams and their jerseys are included. To polish things off, you can even customize rider names in the game to make sure they are accurate and keep things fresh. I give this game a big thumbs up. Snap into the pedals, break away from the pack and pick up Tour de France 2019.