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Pro Cycling Manager 2012
 

Pro Cycling Manager 2012

ESRB: Everyone - E
Platform: Xbox 360
Category: Racing, Simulation, Sports
 
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7
6
7
6
6.5
 
Author:

Like many management sims, Pro Cycling Manager 2012 is not for those unaware or not knowledgeable about the sport. For example, my first race was a “sprint”, and my leading cyclist was not a sprinter, but a “puncheur” (specialist in short, steep climbs). Turns out that bringing sprinters to a race with a lot of hills is a bad idea. Did I know anything about pro cycling before the review? No. So keep this in mind as I go through this sometimes obtuse game.

Graphics

I mentioned it before, but it is lovely to be able to see the race happening, sweaty men and all. The crowd models are repeated, but since you're not concentrating on them, that's perfectly forgivable, and the terrain is beautifully rendered. It's a shame that that's not what you're going to be seeing for over half the game time.

In fact, what you're going to be seeing the rest of the time is a fairly utilitarian UI with a huge bunch of numbers, and a pretty picture in the background. These numbers are somewhat important, so we'll get to them shortly.

Sound

The intro music immediately put me in mind of many sports shows, being very dramatic, and not a little silly, considering the subject is a sport which largely consists of sweaty men huffing and puffing away. But the in-game music is, by contrast, relatively relaxed, and I'm actually quite good with that. The cheers of the crowd are nice, the game's various noises for the cyclists don't become annoying, and, while some of the commentators repeat themselves enough to be considered canned sometimes, overall, they also add to the ambience to help make the sound and music a pleasant portion of the game.

Gameplay

While not the focus of the game graphically, you're going to be spending a lot of time looking at tables and numbers, numbers and tables... Some cyclists are young, some are older, some are heavy, some are light, some are good at sprinting, while others are good at endurance. Oh, and they get ill. A lot. To be fair to the game, there are a fair few options. You can hire, fire, train, and strain your cyclists, sending them to your team doctor when they get ill, renegotiating their contract when they feel like it (or you do), and trying to keep them happy. This invariably involves keeping an eye on numbers, lots of numbers. Cyclists who win races become happy for a while, cyclists who suck, or are ill, generally become unhappy quite quickly. You have to please your sponsors by fulfilling their demands, otherwise they're going to...

...Look, what I'm saying is, there's a lot to keep an eye on, and the game doesn't always do a good job of reminding you, or helping you. For example, there are lots of stats for each individual cyclist, and I hope you wrote them down, because when you book a training camp, you can't see those stats while you're picking who to send. So, for all I know, I sent a puncher to sprinting camp, and, what's worse, I didn't really know whether this was a good thing or not.

As it turns out, sprinting is situational, so it was a waste of money for that style of race. And this highlights the game's biggest flaw for the prospective buyer... You have to know the ins and outs of cycling to understand what you need to do. Which brings us neatly to the actual races.

You can visualise the race in one of three ways: A simple “Run the damn race yourself” mode, a slightly more complex “Hey, why don't you try these broad tactics, while I watch”, and the full race experience, which is basically micro hell on the longer races. The last option is pretty, for a management sim, or any kind of sim, for that matter, but can be a pain in the arse.

This is, obviously, a tie in with the Tour De France (the world's most celebrated cycling event of the year), and, as such, the teams are faithfully represented, with several tournaments, 81 teams to play, and nearly all the big racers of this year faithfully... well, as faithfully as any stat-based game is gonna be anyways... represented in game. The variety in races is there, from longer slogs (which I'll get to in a bit) to the incredibly short and punchy indoor sprint races, which I infinitely prefer. For all that I dislike the longer races, the attention to detail in the game is noteworthy.

At first, you think “Oh, hey, seven buttons, each for a different tactic, defaulting to 'keep position'. Easy!”. Yeah, until you realise that, for the longer races, you have to keep an eye on 8 cyclists, adjust their tactics, make sure their water bottles are kept filled (which will slow them down), occasionally slipstream people, then “attack” for a better position, and it gets complicated fairly quickly, not helped by the fact that the game will have to pan to individual racers, who may be somewhat ahead of the pack. This happened in the example I gave at the beginning of this review, where two of my cyclists spent a good half of the race about a mile or two ahead of everyone else, leaving 6 of my cyclists trapped in a horde of sweaty men, occasionally breaking free, then needing a refill and falling back. Obviously, it's less stressful than this for the majority of races, especially the indoor races, which are the cycling equivalent of the 100m dash. But long distance races are your real breadwinners, and there are a fair few of them.

So, in summary, this one definitely isn't for the newbie to cycling, or management sims. The game doesn't go to a real effort to remind you of those all important stats, even when (like training camps) it really should, but, if you're willing to put in some time, research the terms, read the manual and such, then it may well be worth a go. Also, I will admit that the indoor races are really fun to play!

Graphics 7
Sound
Gameplay 5
Overall 6.5






 
 

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