Tour de France 2020 (PlayStation 4) Review

By Josh Di Falco 17.06.2020

Review for Tour de France 2020 on PlayStation 4

The annualised digital simulation of Tour de France is back, with Cyanide SA's 2020 returning to consoles for another season. After what was a disappointing 2019 title, Tour de France 2020 has made the right moves forward to allow for a more engaging and enjoyable experience, although this is let down by the AI oftentimes. However, many of the shortcomings still remain - and these can play a vital role in determining how much enjoyment can truly be squeezed out of this cycling title. With a refreshed roster of cyclists and new tracks from the 2020 season, time to delve into whether Tour de France 2020 is worth jumping into.

From the opening moments, it's clear that Tour de France 2020 seems like a roster update, and nothing more. The main menu screen is all-too familiar with the previous year's title; the riders look exactly the same; and, finally, the graphics don't seem to have been given an upgrade. Simply put, Tour de France 2020 is clearly running off the same engine - an engine that, on the surface at least, doesn't look like it's had any tinkering at all. When comparing this to last year's title, it's easy to confuse the two for being the exact same product even. While this is not inherently bad, considering the issues that plagued Tour de France 2019, it was hard not to come into this latest title with nauseating flashbacks. Fortunately, this has fixed some of the bugs, graphical glitches, and crashes that made 2019 an unenjoyable experience.

Tour de France 2020 is a cycling simulation that plays more like an arcade game than a full-blown simulation-style experience. All of the previous title's modes have returned, with 'Pro Leader' focusing on the creation and career of one rider, while 'Pro Team' centres around the racing and management of a team. Considering that the cycling sport consists around working as a team, this can make jumping into Pro Leader a frustrating experience for those who aren't as well-versed with the sport in general. All of the tracks fall into one of three categories: mountain, hill, and sprint, and there are matching riders who excel in one of these categories, though there is a fourth category where 'Versatile' riders can perform well enough in any of the tracks. This is where the team-first mentality takes full effect, as a team of six riders will consist of a diverse range of riders with various strengths and weaknesses to allow for a successful season.

Screenshot for Tour de France 2020 on PlayStation 4

In Tour de France 2020, it's not about controlling one rider to victory after victory, but rather, controlling various riders to gain wins depending on the tracks. Pro Leader mode can be frustrating for those who aren't fully aware of what Tour de France is about - the rider doesn't, and will most often not win every single race. If the created rider excels at sprinting, then those are the moments mid-track when the sprinter has to be ready to go. If the track is a 'mountain' track, then that sprinter is not racing to win, but rather to aid their 'mountain' skilled teammates to win, while earning team points for the short sprint-burst challenges that may arise. Having a successful career in the sport is about being a team player, and playing the right role at the right time.

The in-game system of switching between different riders mid-race is a seamless experience that is helped by the extremely quick loading times. For those who prefer to micro-manage their team to the minute detail there are the team comms which allow for instructions to be given to AI-teammates to adhere to. The team comms work quite well, and the AI are quite devoted to fulfilling the required strategies to the best of that riders ability. AI riders can be tasked with protecting a specific rider, or to increase or reduce their efforts among other things that may come into effect during certain parts of the race.

Screenshot for Tour de France 2020 on PlayStation 4

There are two main new features that have been introduced: the introduction of a first-person mode allows seeing through the rider's peripherals rather than in the default third-person perspective. However, the other main feature is similar to putting a car in cruise-control, but for the controlled rider. Due to how lengthy each track is, most being upwards of a 130km trek, this is a welcomed feature that allows for a quick respite while allowing for the AI to maintain the effort and intensity that is desired of the riders. Due to the lengthy tracks, riders have two colour-coded drinks that they can use during the race for a quick refill of their Stamina and Attack gauges. These are displayed similarly to years past, and each track has a refill point to allow for riders to top up on these "drinks." By using these properly, riders can maximise their opportunities to attack the competition by surprise.

The only downside to these potions is that they have to be manually used - in other words, should a rider elect to fast-forward the race and let the AI take the reins, then these potions will be left unused. Speaking of the fast-forward feature, this allows for the boring portions of the race to be skipped ahead - however this has to be used sparingly. A lot of hard work can quickly become undone with the AI-controlled rider often blowing themselves up unnecessarily, or in other words, exceeding all of their stamina and having nothing left in the tank. Tour de France 2020 is all about maintaining stamina throughout the events; it is a marathon after all, and not a full-on sprint. Even for those who like to micromanage their team by switching between different riders mid-race may find a few annoyances here. For example, after setting up a rider into the 'breakaway' group and switching to gain some ascendancy in the peloton as the other riders, the AI may then undo the efforts of the 'breakaway' rider as the rider may end up burning all of their stamina for no reason.

Screenshot for Tour de France 2020 on PlayStation 4

There is a helpful tutorial that does a great job of teaching the controls - however, it isn't as deep as it could be. For newcomers who don't watch the sport or may not be aware of the particular strategies that teams of riders go into with, the tutorial doesn't do a great job of showcasing when the right time to use these controls are. For example, it touches on the team comms that allows riders to instruct their teammates, but it doesn't show how deep this system is or when the right time to use some of these instructions would be. There is still a lot of cycling jargon that needs to be unpacked, and this isn't something that can necessarily be self-taught in-game.

Despite Cyanide SA's best intentions to refine the mechanics of Tour de France 2020, it seemed to have missed the mark with the graphical quality of this year's title. The riders' movements are too rigid for their own good, and they are basically glued to their bike - despite the best efforts to crash riders into fences, they just won't fall off or show any realism in their crashes. Every rider also looks exactly the same, which is laughable when the 'Best Young Rider' award goes to a rider who looks every bit aged as the oldest riders in the game. With over a hundred riders in any given race, having at least a few generic variations of riders will look better for the spectacle, rather than having a cycling re-enactment of 'the Clone Wars' at the foot of the Champs-Élysées.

Screenshot for Tour de France 2020 on PlayStation 4

Cubed3 Rating

5/10
Rated 5 out of 10

Average

Tour de France 2020 is an improvement over its 2019 counterpart, thanks to the improved loading screen times, and reduced crashes that may take place. However, by and large it is still pretty much the same game otherwise, with minimal changes or quality-of-life features to make the experience more engaging. For those who love the sport of cycling, then this may fill in the time until the real-life racing starts up again - however for those with no interest in the sport, then it may be a tough task for Tour de France 2020 to latch newcomers into the title. The ingredients for a really engaging micro-managed cycling-simulator is here, but it is let down by the AI.

Developer

Cyanide

Publisher

Bigben Interactive

Genre

Sport

Players

2

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  5/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date Out now   Australian release date Out now   

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