Pro Cycling Manager 2013 – PC
Publisher: Focus Home Interactive
Developer: Cyanide
Release Date: June 20, 2013
Genre: Sports, Strategy, Simulation
Reviewed by Bruce Boembeke

Review Score: 4 of 5

I’m a cyclist – not a competitor, but more than recreational. I have the kit (gear) shoes-helmet-gloves-spandex pants etc. etc.. I am passionate about riding… twice a week, 20 to 30+ miles each time… but a sim? Well sure, I watch the Tour de France – all 21 stages – and when I do, I usually get a urge to leave the TV and go for a ride. It’s a humbling experience to compare yourself to these young lads… when I can on a good day ride 20 mph on a flat road, and they can climb mountain sides. Not hills, mountains – at 25 mph!

But a sim? Well, if you tune in and wonder how it all works, this is for you! Its not a random ‘game’ of chance. YOU have to put a team together and get them ready to race. Then watch them perform!

My Sys Specs are well below the advertised minimum, understandable as its 6+ year old. Running Windows XP on an AMD3000 -1.8 GHz – 3 MB ram – and a NVidia GT430 graphics card. Yet I’m able to run this sim, with limitations, with some (most?) of the eye candy turned off and not all the race types. Still, from my monitor, I can get plenty of fun, and full emersion. If the following thumb nail review doesn’t go deep enough for your curiosity, there is an online ‘help’ feature that explains everything, in detail.

So let’s get started. The load screen is typical; the intro is upbeat and runs about 10 seconds. I couldn’t find a key to by-pass it, but it’s got a good beat and passes quickly. Choosing Single or Multiplayer (off line or online) and then onto the type of bike race you want to run.

Understand that Riders have goals, teams have goals and of course your sponsors have goal$… as manager of a team, YOU must help define those goals. There are 80 teams to choose from or you can create your own! (The Real Tour has only around 20 teams) Is that too much for you? That’s ok, instead select to control a single rider in a Velodrome race, and against an amount of opponent riders that you set or run the 2013 Tour de France same course; you can also create your own!

Now train your team riders, and choose which Tours to enter based on their skills. Oh! I failed to mention you can also hire Staff that includes Trainers, Scouts and Doctors. The depth of this sim is constantly unfolding. I don’t believe this is intended to be a ‘game’ that you sit and play in one hour – though it can be- rather, played in real time, as in a full year! Develop a team, training it and then following a schedule of competition.

“A year” you ask? Seriously? Yes! Take your time with this and play it as it was intended. To fully understand how assembling a bike racing team takes place. It can be quite rewarding done correctly or extremely frustrating should you rush it and attempt only to go for the gold. I guarantee you, if that’s how you approach it. The name is Pro Cycling Manager 2013 for a reason.

There is a schedule to keep, and you apply for entrance to Tours, you might be turned down, or accepted. This is not a ‘game’ that you actually play… you are the manager. You determine bike frames, tires and even helmets! Now to the race. Control your team, tell them to attack or relay or stay with the pack (peloton) if you overdo it your riders will run out of energy. It’s complex – its detailed – it’s not for the single minded shooter mentality…it’s strategy. Even wind direction and velocity factor in as well as the terrain. Climbs must be carried out with an eye on your reserve energy. Use too much too soon and you’ll find yourself at the rear of the pack.

Race a Velodrome (an oval ‘enclosed’ bike track), choose one of the classic races (the long one day events) they are all there to pick from, or a single stage (a day’s event) of any multi-stage race. If you really get into the big picture, bite off a big chunk and go for a Tour, it’s all here.

Along the way there are prizes, treats that unlock other elements of the sim, so there are goals for the player too, they are not ‘hidden’ – you can see them and it tells what you need to do to achieve them.

On the down side, it’s a little amateurish in the announcing; some things are repeated too often. “Another flat, and yet another flat” … at times, if you ‘play’ an entire stage, I think the serious gamer, might get a little bored. The scenery varies, but it still gets monotonous, I’m not familiar enough with the French countryside to know if it’s REALLY like that, yet I’ve no reason to doubt it’s pretty close.

There are various camera angles to choose, so you can sit in a helicopter and watch from above, or ride in the pack, with any rider! Faces? Yes (optional) how about sitting on the side of the road and watch the peloton go by? Select a camera view, and then freeze it… zip…zip…zip the riders flash by, and though I’ve not come close to seeing all the sim has to offer, I can tell you there are enough options to satisfy the most serious simmer… replay – on/off. How about a Career mode? Yep…got it!

My limitations of seeing all the sim has to offer is disappointing. This is software I WANT to see more of, the challenge, the depth; the detail can become a study of the sport. This is not for the easily bored. Think of the difference between playing checkers and 3D chess.

[Editor’s Note] I also took the game for a spin on a fully decked-out high-end PC. Aside from some abnormally long load times as it loaded texture after texture after texture, Pro Cycling Manger 2013 looks incredible depending on your vantage point. Zoomed fully out, even my super-PC was brought to its electronic knees as it struggled to render hundreds of riders on realistic terrain. Plus, playing at 1920×1080 on a 60″ TV I was straining to see all of the microscopic details such as heart rate and stamina meters for the various riders. This definitely isn’t a couch/controller game, but more of a PC/desktop rider management tool. The game can and does looks amazing, but it takes a bit of effort to find the camera angle and level of zoom that works for you and your system stats. Now…back to Bruce…

Bottom line, I’m torn, I can’t see myself being drawn to this sim the moment I get up, yet, as I write this, I’m anxious to do a mountain stage and see how well my team can CLIMB! Come winter, when I can’t get a ride in, I won’t hesitate to load Pro Cycling Manager 2013