Pro Cycling Manager 2014 Review (PC)

very good
key review info
  • Game: Pro Cycling Manager 2014
  • Platform: PC
  • Gamepad support: No
  • Reviewed on:
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Cycling time

On the final climb of the penultimate stage of the Tour of Switzerland, I get the feeling that I might not be able to fulfill the promise I made to my sponsor and win this race, which will probably have some long-term consequences for the team I control, Trek Factory Racing.

My leader, Frank Schleck, is a bit sick and does not like the conditions and even strong support from the rest of my team, including local superstar Fabian Cancellara, seems unable to save him on this mountain.

I put my riders to the front, trying to control the pace while protecting my best climber, but other teams have big plans and the attacks keep on coming, with groups constantly forming up the road as my rivals try to get organized.

As the peloton grows smaller, I finally increase the effort level of Frank Schleck, get him to the front and try to lead an attack to the leading group, which includes Nibali, Valverde and another 5 riders, but my leader is unable to sustain the rhythm and finally loses 3 minutes before the finish.

These are the kinds of stories that Pro Cycling Manager 2014, the new simulation from developer Cyanide and publisher Focus Home Interactive, can create and any lover of the sport will be mostly satisfied with the title’s ability to show the excitement and despair that the experience can deliver.

Story

Pro Cycling Manager 2014 uses the same core template as other titles in the series and other simulations that target the sport world: choose a favorite team or create one from scratch and then enter the long yearly calendar of the cycling world and try to win as many races as possible.

There are young talents to develop, team affairs to handle, a large array of tactical situations to deal with and plenty of interesting environments to paddle through on one’s way to victory or at least a decent finish.

Developer Cyanide has managed to simulate 75 full teams and include all the riders that are part of them with some real-world names and with stats that were based on their performance during the past 12-month period.
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Podium look
Rider training
Some fans of cycling will be dissatisfied with some of the numbers, but shortly, the community will deliver mods that are designed to offer more accurate numbers for the top cyclists that are focused on their most recent rides and will result in a better simulation for the Tour de France mode.

The site that I tend to use most for new databases and more complex mods is PCMDaily.

The player who aims to play more than one season using the same team should probably stop by the Options menu in order to increase the speed of attribute evolution and also check the box that randomizes the potential of the various cyclists.

Pro Cycling Manager 2014 also allows gamers to play single races or smaller stage races in order to test out their skills in the actual engine instead of fiddling with all the management elements.

Gameplay

Pro Cycling Manager 2014 mixes a classic management experience, where the gamer has the power to handle the internal affairs of the team and its relations with outside partners, with an actual real-time race simulation, which allows the player to control each cyclist via specialized orders.

Those who have played all installments in the series will find a title that’s largely familiar, with some additions for both core areas and with updates when it comes to the riders and the races that they compete in.

Newcomers will also be happy to get access to a solid tutorial that can clearly explain the mechanics and how a team needs to work together to have a chance at victory.

The management side of Pro Cycling Manager 2014 now includes new ways to relate to the companies that provide equipment and more refined ways to make sponsors increase their contributions.

Cyanide has also done a lot of behind-the-scenes work to set up a realistic-looking season for the most important teams and riders, which means that gamers can jump straight into the action rather than spend hours tweaking schedules and objectives.



The options are still there for hardcore fans to change at their pleasure and they still play a major part for those who choose to lead smaller or custom-made teams.

The calendar in PCM 2014 progresses one day at a time and when it reaches a one-day or stage race, gamers have two options: to take charge of the riders they have selected to take part or to simply simulate it.

Choosing the first options launches a 3D view of the peloton and the course, which can be customized in a variety of ways, and allow players to choose a strategy that they believe can ensure victory.

Flat stages are all about keeping sprinter well protected on the road, while contributing enough riders to the breakaway chase to catch it without depleting all the energy of the cyclists required to power the sprint train.

When the mountains come around, GC leaders need to be careful and elements like weather, daily form and careful use of energy gels become crucial for success.

Pro Cycling Manager 2014 also includes the one-day Ardennes classics, where punchy riders shine, and the cobbled classics, where punctures and team tactics tend to decide the victors.
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On the road
Helicopter view
The Cyanide game does a good job of simulating the unique mechanics of real-world cycling and the way orders work has been improved to make it even easier to execute a solid strategy.

The rhythm and the fitness of the various cyclists also plays a much larger role in the final results and it’s harder than ever to win major races with the smaller teams in the peloton because the major superstars tend to have strong support from their squad.

There are also changes made to the way roles are assigned to the various riders selected for a race and they initially seem to offer more freedom but end up feeling more constrained in terms of control than in the previous versions of the title.

Cyanide has a long history of delivering patches for the PCM franchise, which means that the 2014 will probably get updates that enhance gameplay and fix any bugs, which at the moment involve some unexplainable crashes to desktop linked to the podiums and the race results page.

Graphics and audio

Pro Cycling Manager 2014 does not offer too many visual improvements when compared to last year’s version of the video game and there are times when the game struggles to run smoothly, despite the fact that I have dropped some of the graphics options.

Fortunately, the framerate and the level of detail are solid most of the time, although it is probably time to introduce an all-new engine that can render the various races with more realism. Cyanide has introduced a number of changes to the interface that make it easier for players to control their riders and make sure that team tactics work well.

The biggest and best new feature is the ability to chain orders, which means that fans of Pro Cycling Manager 2014 can put together complex tactics and then easily execute, although the change might not be too appealing for newcomers.

The look of the management interface has also been improved and it’s easier to move from section to section.

Cyanide has not made many changes in the audio department for Pro Cycling Manager 2014 and the commentary is still in rather bad shape, which means that I tend to turn it off after about half the races in a season, but the music is solid and evokes the feeling of riding at speed through open spaces that the cycling experience is based on.

Multiplayer

Pro Cycling Manager 2014 does include multiplayer modes, like a returning Armada, for all those interested, but it’s pretty hard to find gamers who have the dedication required to finish a multiple-stage race.

The best way to enjoy it is to create a group of friends that are equally skilled when it comes to the races or to try and join the various leagues popping up on the big fan sites.

The Good

  • Extra management options
  • Improved user interface
  • More player choices

The Bad

  • Limited race updates
  • Crashes linked to podiums and results

Conclusion

Pro Cycling Manager 2014 is not the major step forward in the franchise that fans were expecting, but there are some interesting new ideas implemented, the user interface has been significantly improved and the results tend to be more realistic than in 2013.

It’s good to see that choices made on the management side of the title have bigger impact on the actual races, but it would have also been great for Cyanide to do a more thorough evaluation of the riders before deciding on their stats.

Pro Cycling Manager 2014 is a solid experience for all fans of the sport who want to recreate history and try to win Le Tour de France with their favorite riders, but it might be a little too complex at first for newcomers who are looking to explore the simulation genre.

But all should probably wait until the noticeable crashes are eliminated via patch.

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story 7
gameplay 8
concept 9
graphics 8
audio 7
multiplayer 7
final rating 8
Editor's review
very good
 
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