Pro Cycling Manager 2012 Review (PC)
Pro Cycling Manager 2012 was released June 21 this year, just days before the Tour De France. Cyclists everywhere could gear up for the big race on their own, running their Pro Manager cyclists on sprints and timed trials to get in the mood. Coming from someone who has never played cycling-simulation games, it was not as bad as I had initially anticipated. I thought the game would be boring and unappealing to me, as one who plays games like WoW, Silent Hill, Portal, and Beyond Good and Evil. I crave adventure in the gaming universe. But once you get a hang of the mechanics, Pro Cycling Manager 2012 has a lot to offer. It’s an extremely niche title, and it’s not for adrenaline junkies, but those who would be interested in the game will get a lot out of it.
The game is fairly simple at first: choose a cycling team and manage them – leading them to glory or utter defeat in the career mode. You can also just go for a short spin in the single races. This is no easy decision, however, as the game includes 81 teams to choose from. You choose your team name, pick a jersey color, and then select who you want to be on your team. You only start off with a small amount of cash, so you won’t be able to pick a dream team of riders at the start, but this gives the game a good sense of progression, sort of like Gran Turismo in a way. The game isn’t all about racing, however; you’ll often be reading emails about how players are doing, who’s being looked at by big sponsors, planning your calendar, training your riders, and so on. It’s obvious that developer Cyanide has put a ton of effort into presenting you with lots of information, but it can be a bit overwhelming at first. It should be noted that this is not a game for the uninitiated- you definitely should have some experience in how cycling works before getting into this game. This is doubly true for Pro Cycling Manager 2012, as there is no tutorial at all. Once you get going with races you can choose to either simulate (where’s the fun in that?) or take part in the full 3D races. The simulations will obviously work based on your riders’ statistics, but you might get a bit more lucky if you decide to get your hands dirty in the races with your team. The races won’t exactly keep you on the edge of your seat- it’s cycling, not WWE- but the graphics are very sharp (especially the rider models) and it’s really impressive to see the game rendering 200 plus riders in real time, along with their unique A.I. The races can be very long – we’re talking 20-30 laps- but luckily Cyanide has thrown in a 8X speed mode to really push things along if it gets a bit too dull.
The online multiplayer fares much better. Knowing you are competing with real live people and not just an A.I. makes the game and the competition all the more exciting. If the music does not appeal to you, you can mute the game volume and add in your own hardcore tunes while you play. I do this with all of my games; it always amps me up a little more for a competition.
The only real drawback about the game is it doesn’t appeal much to someone who is not into cycling. The lingo and races aren’t difficult to understand, but it might not be as exciting for someone who isn’t knowledgeable about the sport. At least with other racing games like SSX and Burnout, I don’t have to be a snowboarder or racing expert to have fun with the game. However, it must be said that those games are much more arcadey and built towards the casual crowd, not simulation fans. Just as a planes novice would likely pick up HAWX over Microsoft’s Flight Simulator series. But as a first-time player of a cycling game (of any kind), I can say Pro Cycling Manager didn’t completely disappoint or overwhelm me.
With improved interface, better managing capabilities and great graphics, Pro Manager 2012 is a solid continuation (with incremental updates) of the long-running PCM series. Since its release, the game’s already been patched 5 times, which certainly shows that the developer cares about its franchise.