Tour de France 2020 - Review of a mediocre cycling title

Tour de France 2020 is the title dedicated to the world of cycling developed by Cyanide Studio and published by NACON, released today 4 June 2020 on Xbox One, PC and PlayStation 4: this last version was the one tested for the writing of our review. If you expect the title to live up to your expectations, especially if you are passionate about this sport, sorry but it is very likely that they will be completely disappointed. Unfortunately Tour de France 2020 presents a series of criticalities that make it an insufficient title, not only as regards the graphics, but also for the technical and playful aspect of the title.

In the saddle towards victory

Tour de France 2020 proposes four kinds of modes: Quick Race, Challenge, Pro Leader and Pro Team. The former is useful for those who simply want to play a Tour, the latter for show yourself or friends how fast you can go downhill or sprint, while the last two are the modes dedicated to the "career"; obviously Pro Leader is for those enthusiasts who wish to join an existing group e live the life of a cyclist, stage by stage, while in Pro Team you create a group of cyclists from scratch and you will have to win the various stages as a team. Here the first problems already arrive, as at the end of everything, the two modes are almost identical. In both it is possible to use any cyclist of the team (in the Pro Leader mode there is no real focus on the character that will be created) and there is no type of economic management as for the Pro Team.

Character creation is insufficient from all points of view and does not even lead to the development of a unique avatar, as unfortunately the models are all the same, even in the case of really existing cyclists. So what can you customize? Height, weight, skin color, age (ranging from 18 to 99, funny thing, except that the title wants to belong to the simulation genre), the pedaling trend and what is ours "Type of cyclist", ie whether to go better in the mountains, hills, sprint or if we prefer to be versatile.

As for the Pro Team, you will have a certain budget with which you can choose six riders, so from create our dream team and win every single prize available. Then the question could come spontaneously; if in one we are talking about a single cyclist and in the other a team of six members is available, why are they essentially the same? The answer is soon said: although in Pro Leader you create a single character, you are not strictly linked to the use, as already mentioned. To make a comparison with another sports-themed title, or FIFA, everything is anyway depending on the player you are going to create, so if you are not called up, you will be forced to simulate the match. While in the Tour de France we could also choose to never select our avatar (which will always have the standard model), ed opt for a stronger teammate, managing to win the race more easily.

And speaking of competitions: although the title may be misleading, it does not only feature the Tour de France, but also other famous circuits, such as the Liege-Bastogne-Liege, known for its fearsome climbs and its length (266 kilometers), but obviously the most prestigious race will be the one in which it will be possible to win the coveted yellow jersey. What can be fun and playful is certainly how to participate in the various competitions, as they will not all be unlocked immediately, but you will have to earn them pedaling after pedaling. In short, it will be necessary to win certain stages to get a certain amount of points, in order to be able to qualify for the next Tour.

Endurance race

Before starting to play it is recommended, especially if you have never touched a title like this, to go to the tutorial menu so as to learn to ride a bike. The controls are simple, the fun lies in understanding “when-to-do-what” and above all: learning to preserve energies. Yes, in the end the core, the core of Tour de France is endurance. So much so that there are two types, which in the HUD present at the bottom right it is possible to distinguish thanks to the colors: blue that it represents nothing but stamina and the red that instead it symbolizes the shot. Both can be recovered in the same way, by drinking the drink of the right color (selecting it with a triangle) or by using aerodynamics on slopes, so you can stop pedaling for a while. The title recommends using this technique (activated by holding L1 pressed for the time you want to stay in that position) when the downward slope is greater than or equal to 6%.

Staying on the subject, just above the HUD is present the conformation of the entire map, which indicates all the various climbs and descents, so you can get an idea of ​​when it's time to push and when to hold back. In order not to lose so much stamina you will necessarily need to protect yourself from the wind, and the only way to do it will be use the slipstream of another cyclist, but sometimes this will come strong and from a different direction. Although the visual effect is not beautiful to look at, it is functional, since it allows you to easily understand where it comes from, so you can act accordingly.

Every cyclist has a minimum different type of pedaling, there are those who use a slow one, some a fast one and others a standard one. Once this limit is exceeded (present in the HUD), the stamina (the blue bar) will begin to consume, while the red one is consumed through the click, therefore, to use a technical term, when attacks or counterattacks. This will inevitably be much smaller than the "normal" stamina, which will still be consumed in case you want to overdo it. But in that case the punishment will come: the crollo, a situation in which it is possible to feel the fatigue of the cyclist, with the screen starting to "beat" while our digital alter-ego will no longer be able to accelerate.

A praise that can be given to the Cyanide Studio game is just this: it succeeds in make the player feel the heaviness of climbing a mountain and the lightness of descending without even having to pedal, immersion ruined by the safety that you have, as despite the attempts, it seems it is not possible to fall off the bike. As mentioned, you will be part of a team, whether you are playing in Pro Team or Pro Leader, so it will be communication is extremely important. This will be possible through the O key, once pressed the time will stop, so as to give the player all the time he needs to make the most prudent decisions. Therefore, you can change members, give specific commands to other teammates (slow down, increase the pace, attack, etc ...), or simply go on with the race, losing control of the player, simulating the stage or a part of it, always observing its progress so you can intervene if things go wrong, although this is not possible in case you decide to simulate, a possibility that is therefore highly discouraged.

Last but not least, in the stages, often some members of the team will have objectives to achieve, such as: "You are part of the escape", "Classified in a certain position", and so on, but they are of no use if not a purely personal matter. Unless it's the character we created, in that case achieving the set goals will help improve the characteristics, which unfortunately don't seem to be worth much in game. The developers had promised a much more aggressive artificial intelligence, an exciting competition, and the opposite cannot be said, but only in part. AI seems to have infinite stamina, at times, therefore unattainable. And the moment it positions itself behind us to protect itself from the wind, it seems being able to imitate every single movement of the player, making it all unrealistic. As for the Time Trial Races, these are competitions in which it will be necessary to whiz as fast as possible, also trying to be really precise in following the trajectory (which is present in both modes, and it is possible to deactivate), but ours will not be an easy task, since it will be necessary to be constantly in the GC position, which however makes the bike incredibly difficult to control, so in this case it will also be a test of skill, as well as endurance.

Technically… mediocre

Unfortunately Tour de France 2020 fails to hit the mark from a graphic point of view. There are a number of flaws and questionable choices that make it almost look like a last generation title, or worse. Despite the presence of photographs of really existing cyclists, the models are all the same, and there are times when it really bothers, like at the beginning of the race, where the camera moves to the right showing the cyclists in the front line and at the end of the same - specifically at the moment. where prizes are given to the winners -  making it clear that it is practically impossible to distinguish the various athletes, differentiated only by the name.

Developers they did not even take care of the various settings, all very similar to each other (especially in the minor races), and able to quickly get bored. The audience is animated, speaks in the mother tongue (and not only French and German) and will also try to enter the track, succeeding, the only problem is that when they set foot on the asphalt, you will notice their fluctuations, albeit slightly. Additionally, the walking animation appears to have come out of a title just released in early access on Steam. In short, everything appears somewhat sketchy.

In addition, the production features gods problems regarding bailouts, as during the stage, when you reach the end of a "section", the automatic saving will be activated, an event that will however cause the game to freeze for a moment, just the time necessary to lose control of the bike, therefore going to crash into the invisible walls that are found both to the right and to the left of the road, necessary to prevent the player from flying over the track but at the same time very dangerous as on various occasions we could run aground on him. with the hitbox of the cyclist's knee that will collide with that of the wall. Something that not even the good and expensive Toca 2 for PlayStation One allowed.

The big feature added this year, the first person view, it's terrible. The moment it activates (by pressing R3), you begin to notice all graphic defects: the grass in two dimensions, the fixed sky-box painted in various shades of blue with the clouds that seem to have been glued onto a cardboard, as if to remember the moon from the Bloodborne Hunter's Dream, and when you look to the sides , time will slow down for no good reason, thus making the game pace slower, even if for a few moments. At the very least, the music that will accompany the player between the menus is truly enjoyable, as are the various in-game sound effects that make the Tour de France 2020 even more immersive.

So is it worth it?

Unfortunately, we find ourselves forced to say no. The price of Tour de France 2020 is too high for the low-level content it proposes. Obviously on the one hand it is right that it is high, as developers they sought the niche of the niche: cycling enthusiasts to the point of buying a dedicated video game, but that does not justify the poor quality of the title. So experience is completely rejected, it is not possible to give the sufficiency to a title that certainly puts us in the shoes of a cyclist, letting us immerse ourselves in the difficulties of managing fatigue and the lightness of the sprints, but in the meantime launching us into an experience that cries out for mediocrity in every aspect. It was a "homework" poorly completed.

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