Cycling Manager 4 PC Review
Cycling manager 4 is the newest game in a series I have never heard of before. Games like this are sure to please fans of the genre; in this case cycling fans, but how does this game suit someone like myself who thinks the Tour de France is a bus company?
With loads of teams, cyclists, sponsors and more to choose from the gameplay is sure to be anything but shallow. But is it fun? First of all like all manager sims the first thing you do is pick a team. There are plenty of teams to choose from with all of course different riders and a different budget. The budget is very important for any team, you will need it to arrange training camps or get better equipment and personnel. The next thing I did when playing the full season mode was pick a lead sponsor, this automatically meant how good I had to perform to please my sponsor. After this I could at any time expand the team of personnel, the riders could be transferred until the transfer deadline of course.
So now I was pretty deep in this game and before I knew I received my first important email: I had to pick peak moments for my riders. Basically it means planning ahead. You could pick 2 moments for every rider where they would perform to their max by adjusting their training schedule accordingly. So now I was busy learning about my riders trying to find out who would perform best at certain important races.
After a quick look at the calendar I found out I had a pretty important race within a month, and so the cycling manager in me took over. I arranged a training camp for my chosen riders in Australia and bought some new equipment so my riders as well as the bicycles would not only be in top condition for the race but also be adjusted correctly to perform best at this specific race.
After all of this I felt I was finally ready for the race, and here I discovered yet another gameplay element. You were able to give orders to your riders during the race; you could tell them to ride in a group or alone for example as well as tell them to take it easy or to take a sprint. Soon after discovering this, I decided my team should ride in a group with my best people in the back and the ones with less chance at winning in the front. Naturally the ones in the front were getting tired a lot sooner as they were catching more air resistance. But I didn’t change a thing, I kept on using this tactic until the ones in the front were exhausted and then I told the riders in the back to give it all they got. It was strangely exciting to see my best riders overtake so many. In fact, it was just as strange as the feeling I got when I found out I performed extremely badly at the race. It was not something I expected from a game like this.
The management system in this game is very deep indeed, but to answer the question I asked earlier; it is not fun. As for racing, yes that was fun. Spending hours of reading stats and planning ahead just isn’t my thing, trying to find out how a certain athlete performs and then trying to use my knowledge in my teams favour however is something I appreciate. I should add however that anyone that really likes management sims, or really loves the sport will like every gameplay element in this game. But this just doesn’t count for me.
The biggest part of this game is covered with slick menus like in any management game. But when you start a race and decide to watch it, the graphics turn out to be a whole lot better than expected. Everything from riders to the crowds cheering looks nice. Even though this means nothing looks ugly, it also means nothing looks even a bit better than just ‘nice’. But this is still a management game we are talking about, and for such a game it looks nice.
My frame rate was steady on my 2,4Ghz P4 and Radeon 8500, no surprise there. The loading times did bug me though; everything from the game checking the CD-Rom to the race being loaded takes more time than in any other management game I played.
Even though the basic sounds in this game are average, there is one very good reason why I believe Cycling Manager 4 did something incredibly smart for the love of the game: the music. The music is lounge, which is just brilliant. Never before have I spent so much time reading, planning and looking around in a game and trust me it all had to do with the music. The music put a relaxing atmosphere in the game, making me forget all about time and other details like food or work obligations. I liked this part of the game most of all.
My guess is that this game will either last a few hours or nearly forever. It would last just a few hours in my case, but being the reviewer that I am I still spent about 20 hours in this game. People that like cycling or managers should be able to play this one for at least a year before having the need to buy something new. Threat it right and it will threat you right for a very long time.
I wasn’t expecting much from a cycling manager game I never heard of before and I still can’t say this is a game I like, but the quality is definitely there. Fans should get this game right now because one thing is sure: This is the best of its kind.