Review

Pro Cycling Manager 2012 (PC)

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Often in our gaming lives we manage to finish or beat a game, but there are a few occasions where the game beats you. For me, this is true of Pro Cycling Manager 2012… for now.

Pro Cycling Manager 2012 is a very good game that allows you to take control of a team of riders and manage them through a racing calendar. The game includes the international racing calendar and races such as the Tour de France. Unfortunately South Africa’s race, The Argus, hasn’t quite cracked the nod yet but, maybe in 2013 – we can always hope.

Pro Cycling Manager 2012 Screenshot 1

Pro Cycling Manager 2012 is a sports management game, with the objective being to help your team or riders win as many races as possible and to propel those riders into superstardom. This means that there is very little action and quite a lot of thought and strategy involved. A friend of mine likes to call these types of management games ‘spreadsheets with good graphics,’ but I humbly disagree with him because these games, to me, can be very exciting.

The key to any management game, however, is an interest in the sport that your ‘team’ is playing in. It’s no use playing a football management game if you have no interest in the sport and, similarly, there is no point in playing Pro Cycling Manager if you have no interest in the sport of competitive cycling.

Fortunately, I have always been interested in the sport and can lose a good couple of hours in front of the television whenever the Tour de France is on. I have watched cycling since I was quite young, I must be honest, I have never fully understood it. I mean, you have the yellow jersey which indicates the overall leader of the race but what is the green jersey and the polka jersey supposed to mean?

And I know there are different kinds of cyclists such as Leaders, Sprinters, Climbers and Time Trial Specialist, but what on earth is a Stage Racer or a Puncher? I know what the peloton is and I understand the physics of drafting… but what is ‘riding a relay’ or an’ infinite relay’ or a ‘grupetto’ (aka Autobus)?

Pro Cycling Manager 2012 Screenshot 2

So, starting out in Pro Cycling Manager 2012, I realised that I had a lot to learn. Fortunately, I am interesting in the sport and was interested to do the learning, too. Unfortunately, however, this is where I met the major downfall of the game. You have to know quite a bit about road racing before you can embark upon your first race because there is simply no tutorial or guidelines on how to run a successful event.

A good example is: What makes up a good team in different races? Should I have one leader, a sprinter, a puncher and two stage racers, or what? Should a climber go for the King of the Mountain jersey or should he stay out in front in hilly stages and go for the yellow?

Pro Cycling Manager 2012 Screenshot 3

I have tried many different strategies in running the race but I can simply not get my guys out in front and keep them there. I have broken away from the peloton as an individual and as a group; I have nurtured my strength and energy at the front, middle and back of the peloton and attacked with 25, 15, 10 and 5 kilometres to go. But there is simply nothing I can figure out about how to win. I have tried with the best riders and the best teams, and I have tried with intermediate racers in races that the big guys don’t even notice – all to no avail.

Fortunately, like I said, I am still willing to learn and I will continue playing until I either figure it out with research or the developers publish a tutorial or ‘how-to’ video. I must admit that the 3D simulation of the gameplay is exceptionally exciting and quite complex. There are a lot of variables that one needs to consider when riding a race and it is quite difficult to keep track of them all. The 3D simulation is quite tough on my poor old PC, but it’s still very playable and quite exciting.

Pro Cycling Manager 2012 Screenshot 4

Pro Cycling Manager 2012 is very realistic as well and you can take charge of some of the most famous cycling teams in the world. They are all there: Rabobank, Lampre, Astana, Movistar and many more. You can choose to immerse yourself in a star-studded team or you can attempt to build one of the lesser teams into a world beating team. It’s a fun game to play but there are simply too many unknowns to hold the attention of anyone but a superfan of the sport.

A good example is one of my riders has expressed his dissatisfaction about being demoted. I have absolutely no idea what he is talking about and I can find nothing to indicate what he means. Quite frankly, I do not even know what I did to change his status in the first place.

There is quite a comprehensive manual included with the game, and although it provides a solid foundation to play the game, it does not give you any ideas apart from the basics. Choose a leader, draft him along using the support riders and then let him hit out at a designated point summarises the manual quite well, but it doesn’t prevent your riders getting soundly drubbed by a lot of other riders.

Pro Cycling Manager 2012 Screenshot 5

The gameplay of Pro Cycling Manager 2012 itself is a typical sports management game. There are a lot of screens and a lot of interaction at all levels of detail required before you can be a success. These screens and interactions take a long time to get comfortable with but I think Cyanide has done a good job in making it as simple as possible and allowing you to learn as you play.

The graphics are not the game’s strong point, but they aren’t meant to be. The 3D simulation is very good in my view but the graphics aren’t of the quality of action games like first person shooters that rely heavily on visually attracting gamers. This is a thinking game and you really should expect to spend a good deal of time doing just that.

I can recommend Pro Cycling Manager 2012 to all fans of the sport of cycling. Even if you are vaguely interested in the sport and the dynamics of the sport then this is a good buy. If management games are not your thing, you lack patience and are unwilling to learn a lot about a game before playing it successfully, however, I don’t think this is the game for you. I do hope that some of you give this game a try because it is very interesting and, I think, when you finally do succeed, it would be quite a fantastic achievement.

Pro Cycling Manager 2012 Screenshot 6

Russell’s Pro Cycling Manager 2012 Tip Corner

Here are a few tips for Pro Cycling Manager 2012 that you might want to read over before you play – in cycling:

- A leader is the rider who has the best chance of winning the race and is protected by the other riders so that he has the best chance of doing just that

- A climbing specialist is good at choosing lines and attacking strategies on inclines. He can lead the team up mountains to minimise energy loss for the leader or he can attack to try build up a lead.

- A puncher specialises in races characterised by many short, steep inclines (called rolling terrain). These riders have lower endurance so are more suited to one day races instead of stage races over a few days.

Pro Cycling Manager 2012 Screenshot 7

- A team-mate works for the team by leading the relay and creating a slipstream in which the leader can ride and conserve energy. These guys are rarely recognised but, without them, a victory is very difficult to achieve.

- A free element is a rider given free rein to decide what is best for him in the race. He can attack or support or whatever he deems fit.

- The yellow jersey is earned by the overall leader of the race by time.

- The green jersey is earned by the overall leader of the race by points.

- The polka dot jersey is earned by the leader in points earned by climbing hills and mountains.

- The white jersey is earned by the best young rider (under 26) by time.

Pro Cycling Manager 2012 Screenshot 8


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