Tour De France 2013 PS3 review – Unlikely to face scrutiny for suspicious overperformance

Tour De France 2013 PS3 review

Coming hot on the heels of the worst sports sim I’ve played on PS3, Tour De France 2012, Cyanide’s annual update to the world of virtual calf strain certainly can’t be accused of resting on its laurels or cashing in on a tried-and-tested formula. Because the existing formula was bobbins and, as a direct result, no one played it.

Tour De France 2013 PS3 review

Conceptually, Tour De France 2013 still has issues. This is the action-oriented spin-off of the Pro Cycling Manager series on PC, in which you play a team boss, telling sinewy men when to drink from water bottles and guiding them to Grande Boucle victory. But in this PS3 version you play as one rider, and although you’re able to issue team orders for protection or to mount an attack, there’s really no getting round the fact that for upwards of 90% of each stage, you’re doing nothing at all. Unless you count fending off a powerful slumber while your R1 finger enters rigor mortis.

That you can now fast forward stages at any point and for as long as you like is to be welcomed with open arms, but it does call in to question how important your actions are in the first 200km of a race when you realise it’s perfectly possible to skip to the last 10km almost every time and have a stab at winning the stage.

Not to sell this short, though – you’re doing more than last year, and you’re doing it with mostly licensed riders, save for a few Braulio Waggons and Marko Covendishes. Where before there was only the X button, four hours of repeated scenery and the growing sense of this all being a practical joke, here you’re able to set the pace using R2 as your throttle, tuck in behind others with R1 and switch between gear ratios to manage your effort and speed. Keep your yellow stamina and red sprint bars nice and high until the last few kilometres, manage any breakaways and you’re in with a chance.

Worse is the embarrassing technical showing. Riders pop in and out of visibility thanks to an incredibly ungraceful on-screen riders limit. Animations could be bettered by sock puppets, and your own rider clips through the peloton like a sad ghost, unable to move into space and equally unable to cause enormous crashes. There’s at least more trackside variation, and that “come on, come on, come on” audio has thankfully been dragged out into Cyanide’s car park and shot. But in the moment you realise it’s impossible to distinguish between teammates and thus order the right rider to protect or attack, it’s clear the UI doesn’t have too firm a grip on its subject matter.

Two-player split-screen offers surprising enjoyment in an otherwise hypnotically dull race experience, but you’ll both need an unquenchable interest in tour cycling to scale its barbed-wire fence of technical shoddiness. More hands-on control makes for a marked improvement on last year’s sadistically tedious effort, which still leaves plenty of room for ‘not very good at all’.

Our Score

Score: 4