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Old 21st Jul 2007, 00:24   #1
Hugo
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Pro Cycling Manager 2007 - I told you I would, Tim

The following is intended as a bit of an in-house joke. Basically, for those who don't know, Bit-Tech share an office space with another website called TrustedReviews and I write news for that website. While looking through their vast collection of games, Joe and Tim happened across Pro Cycling Manager 2007. I then said words to the effect of "Oh wow, pass it here that's awesome - I'm so playing this game." Then Tim suggested I review it as well, I presume assuming I would tell him to go jump of a large cliff. Instead, I decided that there might be some vague comedy value in doing a mini-review for the purpose of you folks on the forums and your amusement.

Let me be clear, I spent 2 hours on this, no more. I didn't want to waste to much time on a game I doubt anyone cares about (even the developers). Even 2 hours is probably too long... Still, what's done is done so I hope you like reading a slightly diferent style of review to the usual Bit-Tech fare. Without any further ado, enjoy.

--------------------

Sometimes you see a game and you just know you have to play it. A game that you have waited for a very long time, that every single new detail of which, when leaked to the media, set your pulse racing. And which, when you finally get to play it, fulfils ever expectation you had and then some. A game that is breathtakingly beautiful, awesomely well balanced and addictively fun to the dangerous level that has you playing until 3am. A game that when you suddenly emerge, blinking back onto the desktop not quite believing the time you’ve spent playing still leaves you wanting more.
Unfortunately Joe has already given you a preview of World in Conflict and, as such, I have been left with an altogether different breed of computer game; Pro Cycling Manager Season 2007 – Le Tour de France. And while yes, I do have that same sense of disbelief that this game could actually be sitting in front of me, it is because I simply cannot imagine why. While I’m sure that there probably are as many as several people who would love to play a game based on the fast-paced exciting life of a cycling team manager, I never thought I’d see them get their wish.

The basic premise of the game is that you are the manager of a team of cyclists taking part in various competition tours. In simple terms, that means that your pretty much playing championship manager but with bikes although drawing the comparisson is a bit like calling chlorine "a bit like oxygen" - technically correct, but I know which one I'd rather be trapped in a room with! It is ironic that a game developed by a company named "Cyanide" would, in fact, insipre me towards the desire to indulge in that very chemical. I can't even bring myself to bother describing how aweful the interface is, or the tediously simple method of using it because I think, nay know, that no-one reading that information would then want to subject themselves to that process. How can I best describe it, I know, consider if you chose to make Championship Manager in Excel.
Basically the gameplay consists of two different areas, management and racing. Management involves chosing things like who of your team of riders will represent you today, what equipment they'll use, whether you want to recruit some new upcoming star or perhaps offer him soem sponsorship to butter him up for a later offer. The race section involves watching your cyclists actually compete in the races and controling their tactics therein. However, if you were so inclined you could in fact miss the racing side out all-together as before each race a "simulate" option is present allowing you to allow the roll of the die (based on the attributes of all the competitiors) to decide the outcome. This formula is repeated for each race, for each stage and for each tour. Now if I'm being fair, there is at least a large scope for customisation in the game. You can choose what kind of clothing your riders wear, what bikes they ride, what wheels they use, what tires are on those wheel and so on. This equipment costs money and I'll let you guess how to aquire it because you will, trust me on this. That's right, you win races! I told you would guess right.

The level of control offered over riders while racing is actually quite comprehensive. Each team member gets a set of stats showing attributes such as stamina and effort. However, I cannot brig myself to bother explaining fully how it all works at this time of night so suffice to say it mainly consists of balancing the amount of effort your rider is making with his stamina level. There's a few other tweaks as well such as whether your rider will try to lead the race form the go or stay behind a bit and sprint for the finish. But in the end it is pretty much "stamina vs effort."


So, what about the graphics in Race mode? Well, as the screen grabs above show - not all that great. The control panel offers three options to try and improve graphical quality. First, resolution, which as already mentioned tops out at 1,680 x 1,050 widescreen, or 1,600 x 1,200 4:3. Second, Anti-Aliasing options of either 2x or 4x which, as you can see from my screenshots taken with 4x enabled, does not really improve matters. Finally you can choose what version shader model you want the engine to use, 1.0, 1.4 and 2.0 are available. While I'd usually berate a game published in 2007 for not having shader model 3 support, I think allowing really, really basic PCs to run this game is going to sell more copies than making it look a bit prettier. If you ignore the image quality, there a few different camera modes to chose from, as well as the 3rd person and 'helicopter' modes pictured above there is also a stationary 'watch-all-the-riders-cycle-past' spectator camera. I guess it adds a bit of variety.

Performance wise Pro Cycling Manager's minimum system requirements specify a 1GHz Pentium III or AMD equivalent, 512MB RAM and a 64MB graphics card that is DX9 capable. They could almost say that if you have a PC, this game will run on it and get away without being pulled up on the issue. The only proviso there is a small problem with loading times, in that they're horribly long. Running on a Core 2 Duo E4300 @ 3Ghz with 2GB of 800MHz DDR2 at 5-5-5-15 timings backed up by a standard clocked 8800GTX I was waiting maybe a minute per race to load everything, and when your doing several races per stage per tour that adds up.

To conclude:

You would be mad to buy this game. However; people will buy this game. The reason for this is that the Tour de France came to the UK this year and therefore lots of young children will bug their parents to buy them this game when they see it in shops. That is why this game exists, because the developers and publisher wanted to cash in. And who can blame them?
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Last edited by Hugo; 21st Jul 2007 at 00:34. Reason: Damned Spelling
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Old 21st Jul 2007, 00:32   #2
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WOOOOOO!!!! Time to realize my dreams and become a cycling team..... manager? I can see what you are getting at, especially with the Tour de France hype, but to be honest an individual with an interest (possibly an obsession) in cycling may stumble across this game, in which case, by the looks of things they are more than welcome to it, as i sure wont be playing it!
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Old 21st Jul 2007, 09:04   #3
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Lol, sounds simply amazing! The pure joy one can glean from watching a computer play the only potentially interesting part of the whole shinanigan sounds like a fantastic way to spend £30! Even Microsoft Train Simulator sounds more engaging than this does, pure genius! You should host this on the main site, it'd get so many views.
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Old 21st Jul 2007, 10:45   #4
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Aw, man. I was using that CD for a coaster, what'd you have to steal it for?
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Old 21st Jul 2007, 11:19   #5
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So the crappy graphics can be attributed to tea stains then?
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Old 21st Jul 2007, 11:48   #6
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I'm honestly so glad i didn't have to review this.
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Old 21st Jul 2007, 12:31   #7
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Rich: I didn't think of that, there was a certain... tannin-ness to the graphics.

Joe: You can still use a Lost Planet CD

Mosey: We can send it over for a full review should you so desire.
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Old 24th Jul 2007, 16:24   #8
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Watching le Tour de France is one thing, playing it is another. I would say sitting and waiting for 5 hours (As some stages (Alpine and Pyrenees mountain statges) can be 5 hours long) is quite tedious.
Possibly not as bad as sitting in a Camperbus for 2 days on the side of a Col waiting for the tour to come past.

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Old 24th Jul 2007, 16:28   #9
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Old 24th Jul 2007, 16:33   #10
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Nice review, its so good to see that your talents not wasted after all
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Old 24th Jul 2007, 18:33   #11
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So: can you give your riders performance enhancing drugs?


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Old 24th Jul 2007, 18:48   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Hugo.B View Post
So: can you give your riders performance enhancing drugs?


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No
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Old 11th Aug 2007, 11:17   #13
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OK, you found the guy playing the game...

You got me. I am one of the four guys playing this game. In fact my other games (C&C3, CoH, Civ4, Oblivion...) are gathering dust while I play this to death.

My review:
You have to be a cycling fan or this is not going to work for you. Otherwise you would have less interest in this than I would have in say, basketball manager.

However, if you are a fan, this is an excellent simulation. The in-game engine is outstanding at modelling the tactics of the real peleton. Rider attributes are very well managed and creatively implemented. Technical depth is fantastic, you can give instructions to individual riders and build up their careers. You get to build your "dream team", provided of course you can raise the funds for it. But mostly, for the guys who sit for five hours watching a stage of the tour who think they could do a better job with those riders at their disposal, this is the game to have.

For those who don't give a hoot about cycling, this won't hold your interest at all. The graphics are basic, the music needs to be turned off, and the interface looks about ten years behind. It's a niche game, if you are in the niche, you will probably love it.
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Old 12th Aug 2007, 00:27   #14
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I have to say ... I am glad I'm not in that niche
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