It’s an exciting time right now to be a cycling fan for a variety of reasons. For starters, the Tour de France is just around the corner at the start of July. The impending competition is also accompanied by the release of Tour de France 2022, the latest entry in the series of cycling simulations developed by Cyanide Studio and published by Nacon that just brought us Tour de France 2021 last year. When I reviewed that previous game, I was something of a cycling novice, and while that status hasn’t really changed as both a cycling viewer and competitor, I’ve at least played enough of that prior game to make a proper comparison between that title and this newest release.
Tour de France 2022 Review
It’s important to point that out because if you are familiar with Tour de France 2021, then Tour de France 2022 is probably going to be more of a disappointment than if you missed last year’s game or are coming to the series brand new. In a lot of ways, Tour de France 2022 feels more like a nice update for Tour de France 2021 than its own standalone game, and there’s little to justify shelling out for a whole new game unless you’re a hardcore fan of the sport or some kind of completionist. The game’s new Race of the Moment feature provides a neat way to compete against others online for the best time in races that are updated regularly. It’s also nice to see race incidents like falls and illnesses occur to add some more realism and some attempts at making each race a little more immersive.
Other than that though, there isn’t much of an overhaul here, and some of the same issues like lackluster graphics and animations still make it hard for anyone who’s more of a casual racing fan than genuine cycling enthusiast to jump into the game. With all that in mind, let’s take a closer look at where Tour de France 2022 breaks away from the peloton in its bid for the coveted yellow jersey, and which areas can’t help but feel more like a steep climb in one of the grueling mountain stages of the event.
What I Like
Race Of The Moment
Without a doubt, the single biggest addition from last year’s game to Tour de France 2022 is the new Race of the Moment mode. Attempting to meet the demand for a way to compete online against others, the new mode has you trying to establish the fastest time in a race among AI competitors to put you at the top of a community leaderboard. It would obviously be preferable if there was a way to race against others online at the same time, but a smaller game like this can’t possibly have the resources to make that happen, especially with anything approaching the number of cyclists that would typically enter a Tour de France race.
With the mode updated regularly to have you racing on a new course, and the same variables like attributes and teammates kept the same for everyone, it makes for an effective way to see how your skills stack up against the top player.
While many perennial sports titles can leave you with the impression you’re paying for a roster update when they’re released every year, Tour de France 2022 instead might seem as if you’re shelling out to play the exact stages of the race since the route of the race changes slightly every year. Cycling die-hards who want to be able to experience what the riders actually will in this year’s race may find it valuable to have the 21 stages re-created to this degree of accuracy rather than being stuck playing last year’s outdated version.
The ability to create your own team and rider for the Tour may be somewhat limited in customization options, but these options do help get you more invested in chasing victories. Aside from the titular Tour de France race that obviously remains the draw, there are also other races in the game to add a little variety, including a new “Primavera Classic” that’s billed as being “inspired by a major Italian race” (which is almost certainly The Giro d’Italia but they don’t have the licensing to be able to say as much).
Gameplay & Strategy
Not much has really changed when it comes to the controls and how to approach a race in Tour de France 2022, but the mechanics in place last year were already fairly effective and nuanced enough to allow for plenty of strategy. The tutorials also do an adequate job of walking you through fundamentals like how to properly pace yourself during a race, shield yourself from wind resistance to conserve energy using riders in front of you, and communicate with your team to coordinate or counter attacks.
It’s easy enough to grasp how everything works, and yet also takes some time to understand the best way to employ all of these aspects during the heat of a race (I’m admittedly still a little lost when it comes to team communication). There are a couple of interesting additions that inject some excitement and realism in that there will now be incidents like falls or illnesses to worry about for riders, and you’ll also notice how the screen will jostle whenever you’re going over cobblestones on a course.
What I Don’t Like
Lack Of New Features
The double-edged sword of releasing an annual sports title is that, from a business standpoint, you can collect money every year if there’s demand, but you have to be prepared to accept criticism if you haven’t done enough to warrant people spending their hard-earned money all over again. In this case, there isn’t much innovation on display in Tour de France 2022 that would separate itself as a brand new product and cause anyone who already has the 2021 version of the game to go rushing to pick it up.
Race Of The Moment is an adequate first foray into the online realm for the series, and riding the actual 2022 route of the Tour de France could be enough of a draw for some to ante up for another year, but these are hardly ground-breaking additions that make this entry stand out much from the last.
As someone who likes to be able to play sports games in short bursts, Tour de France 2022 doesn’t really give you a lot of good options. If you want to take control of your rider(s) for every moment of a race, it’s probably going to take you an hour or more depending on the route. You can decide at any time to fast forward as much of the race that you would like, which does help to cut down on the amount of time you need to invest in any given race, but also leaves you with the inevitable feeling that you haven’t been fully responsible for whatever result you achieve. The game could benefit from some kind of feature that has you only jumping into the race for key moments that could either involve navigating treacherous terrain or making important strategic decisions to help affect the outcome without forcing you to devote half a day in the effort.
Graphics & Presentation
The graphics haven’t changed all that much from last year’s game, which means that they remain a generation or perhaps even two behind what you might expect these days. The character models are stiff and leave little room for differentiation between riders. This issue extends to the animations, where there’s not much you can do even with customization to distinguish your cyclist from the rest of the pack in terms of how they ride. Some of those stock animations are awkward too, especially when you collide with a guard rail while rounding a sharp corner too fast and either simply bump up against it in a way that defies physics or are violently thrown from the bike with the one and only animation the game appears to have for collisions (or sometimes you go through obstacles entirely).
The short cinematics before and after races are carried over from last year’s game, and the irritating voice of your coach (or announcer?) throughout a race is more likely to offer up useless tidbits about racers as he is to provide any genuine insight into how to win the race. The scenery and locals cheering you on while you head towards the finish line add some atmosphere but will become repetitive long before a race is through.
Those who did not play last year’s game should not be deterred from giving Tour de France 2022 a shot. Though the graphics and animations may be a little outdated, the mechanics and how to best employ them on the course do an admirable job of recreating the strategy of cycling. The races may be long if you insist on experiencing every second of them, but the option to fast forward through sections helps immensely when the course starts to feel redundant and interminable. Anyone who did spend some playing Tour de France 2021 though is likely to be disappointed by how light this game is on new content, unless they happen to be a huge cycling fan who absolutely needs to be able to play the real route of this year’s upcoming tour.