One of the many beautiful things about video games is wish fulfilment. We can be things we probably won’t be in real life; stalwart vampire hunters, gallant explorers and crack-shot snipers. Sports games are especially good at this, allowing us to fulfil our childhood dreams of playing for FC Barcelona or wearing that coveted Tour de France yellow jersey.
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If that second one piqued your interest, you’ll be glad to know that 2018’s official Tour de France video game is shaping up to be something special. It’s rather uncreatively titled, as ever (Tour de France 2018, ho hum), but then a video game which promises a definitive sporting experience doesn’t need a complex moniker to impress.
Tour de France 2018’s development is being handled by old French hands Cyanide Studios, who’ve held the reins of this venerable franchise since way back in 2009 (they’re also the folks responsible for the PC management sim Pro Cycling Manager, another instalment of which is due this year too). This latest entry into the series once again grants players the ability to control one of many cycling legends and newcomers, as they battle for supremacy in the notoriously grueling Tour de France race.
New features exclusive to this year’s edition include new routes to match those introduced in 2018’s Tour, from Noirmoutier-en-l’Ile to the Arc de Triomphe at the conclusion of the race’s 21st stage (we told you, it’s a doozy). All of the 22 official teams racing in this year’s Tour are represented in Tour de France 2018, and players can choose from pro cyclists racing for each team.
Graphically, the game looks incredible, serving as a perfect replica of its real-life counterpart. The detail is intense; each stitch on each cyclist’s clothing is visible, and grass, bushes and flowers sway realistically in the breeze, ratcheting up the immersion. Combine this with sophisticated lighting, excellent texturing work and superlative animation and this year’s Tour de France 2018 really is shaping up to be a memorable one.
This year’s game, though, comes with a special twist to its usual formula. The new Pro Leader mode, strongly reminiscent of FIFA’s Be a Pro mode or PES’ Become a Legend, allows players to create a cyclist from scratch and shape their career from nobody to cycling hero. Pro Leader gives players staggered objectives to complete in order to progress through stages of their career, and grants new responsibilities and opportunities to players as they complete these objectives.
Things have also been improved behind the scenes of Tour de France 2018. A new Team Progression system places the emphasis on co-operation and collaboration with your teammates, while an improved version of the Fitness Peak System allows you to track and observe your cyclists’ fitness levels. AI has also been bumped up to make races more realistic; racers will now chase opportunities much more aggressively, racing as they would in a real Tour de France stage.
All of this, combined with a host of new stages, customisation options and more, combine to make Tour de France 2018 a sure-fire winner in the hearts and minds of cycling fans everywhere. If this is your sport, make sure you pick this one up when it arrives later this month.