Tuesday, September 2, 2014

New Tour de Giro Game update review

If you're only going to read three lines of this then let me get this out of the way: Ratchet up your shoes and tighten up your heart rate monitors, what a step up for Tour de Giro (TdG). I can see some great battles coming over the winter virtual season. There will be some new words learned as we cuss each other and fight some good contests. 

Now For A More In-depth Look.

The Test

I picked a hard course for the game to handle. I used my personal "Boulder Dash" for the route and selected 5 laps at 7km from the menu. "Boulder Dash" has a lot of switchbacks and runs over the same stretches on a couple occasions which gives the game some fits. I ran this course with 25 Artificial Intelligent Bots and one Pacer Player teammate, intentional setting the power outputs so that we would race bunched up in close quarters. 

The Graphics And Player Actions

Whether I'm inside on the trainer or outside on the road, I rarely take the time to enjoy the scenery buzzing by with my head buried in my bike computer. The scenery that I did notice is a big improvement with the clouds looking like clouds and seeming to float along. Those just riding along might enjoy these updates. 
It looks like we are still riding left-handed bikes with the rings and cassettes on the wrong side but this is such a small nuisance that if you notice it and it bothers you, you're more of a perfectionist than I am. 
The player actions have taken a big leap forward and it makes the virtual racing much more lifelike. The players lean into the turns now and I caught myself leaning with my avatar. It definitely adds another dimension to the feel of the road. I'm predicting that I won't be the only one to crash in the bike room as I get caught up in a big race. 
As for the AI's themselves: it might just be me but they seemed to "bring it" a lot harder this race. They reacted to my moves with more aggression than I remember in the past updates. 

Game Flow

I intentionally selected a course that didn't loop to see how the flow from the end of one lap to the other worked and was impressed with the fluidity of the crossover. I did notice a problem with one of the summits where the course had a steep climb and an ever steeper descent off the summit. There seemed to be a lag as we went halfway down the descent at a speed more indicative of a positive climb than the negative drop. I'll have to see if this is just a problem with this course or if there's a hang up here. As for the riders themselves they seemed to react well. 

 The Races Inside The Race
The KOM and Sprint points is what I've been looking forward to most. Okay, who am I kidding? The KOM points is what I've been looking forward to, I don't give a crap about your fatties racing on flat ground. What a great addition these are! While they are randomly placed I think this gives you the feel of how UCI sometimes just throws darts to decide. In this race the steep climb wasn't given point while the minor climb was. No big worry here because you know at the start of the race where e point are so just go after them. It seemed like the AI bots made sure you earned the points here, so beware. I can't wait for some epic battles to take shape when multiple riders are going after these points. There's sufficient notice from the game itself to let you know how close you are to the point lines so I don't want to hear excuses. This is really going to make everyone step up their tactics and pick and choose what they want to go after. 

Overall Observation 

This is a big leap from where TdG was. The feel is better, the AIs seem better, the graphics are better. And all this will bring better winter training. I foresee some big battles inside the groups that regularly race against each other with specialist popping up in the KOM and sprint categories. We're going to see GC's, sprinters, climbers and Rouleurs begin to separate themselves. And with that I think teams will begin to form and big races/series will be hotly contested. Better learn to swear in multiple languages so you're respected inside the peloton. Criterium a are going to take a lot of the same real world tactics to compete but without the expected crashes that crop up on asphalt.  
As for those people that like a less competitive ride with friends next to them or across the pond I see the additions helping just as much, not many of us get on a bike with zero competitive juices flowing inside our veins and the chance to sprint to green and polka dot banners then back off and enjoy the time spent will help improve your skills.
Let's get the cold weather here and push each other to a bigger and better 2015.  
See you all on the summit!