"It's Like Riding a Bike"
The manager series of games have always been the reverse side to some of the more popular sports titles out there. For every FIFA 2012, there's a Soccer Manager 2012, which allows you to manipulate everything in relation to a team and actually become the manager. What most of these games don't tell you is that management games actually come off like an actual job wherein you invest a lot of time before you see what could be a minimal reward.
Pro Cycling Manager 2012 places you in control of a cycling team and tasks you with managing them to glory. This includes their booking schedule, their training needs, their personal equipment, and who occupies what role on the team. Upon starting your career, you're placed on the menu screen and from there… your managing career begins. While this may sound like a typical introduction into a sports game, Pro Cycling Manager 2012 offers you no guidance whatsoever. Once you start up your career, you're dumped into a sea of clickable menus and massive amounts of information that the game expects you to navigate with some level of competence.
The cold introduction into the game is where a large portion of its problems resides: it gives you inconsistent levels of instruction and not everything is wholly intuitive like one may expect it to be. At some point during the season, one of my cyclists fell ill and wouldn't be able to train or compete until he'd been seen by a doctor. Fortunately, in the same popup, the game allowed me to assign him a doctor and I was able to move on until he was cured. Two in-game weeks later, when I was attempting to register for the Australian championship, I had no idea how to actually pick which team members I wanted to place in the race. After about 30 minutes I was finally able to get them into the race, but I felt stupefied by the process because there is no in-game assistance available to you.
The actual gameplay of Pro Cycling Manager 2012 is entertaining once you work through the menus to get to. Thankfully, the races play out with more strategy than "fastest cyclist wins". You'll have to manage your riders' stamina, heart rate, and their energy levels while paying attention to the flow and gradient of the course. You don't want to burn all your stamina sprinting directly uphill, but you also shouldn't try to power ahead on a downhill section leading right to another hill, it would be a waste of energy. I learned these lessons in memorable fashion during my very first race. I managed to pull ahead of the pack for 95% of the race but lost in the last 5% because my rider was too exhausted to compete.
Graphically, Pro Cycling Manager 2012 holds up during the races. Everything has a believable level of detail and the visual effects are pleasant enough to look at. I did find one pet peeve though, even with antialiasing as high as it could go, the wheels on the bikes were never rounded off. It was a small nuisance, but considering how often you sit and watch virtual people ride bikes, it would have been nice to see more attention to the tiny details that you have to spend an excess of time paying attention to.
Pro Cycling Manager 2012 aims for a niche crowd and it fills that niche comfortably for fans of the series. The gameplay is solid and the options outside of the career mode, like the armada mode or multiplayer, are well rounded as well. However, the extreme learning curve and lack of a true tutorial isn't very welcoming to a newcomer which cuts down on the enjoyment to be had in this otherwise entertaining game.
GameDynamo's Score for Pro Cycling Manager 2012 (PC)
|Joey Blackwell II
Avid gamer who's more passionate about writing. Hopes to be a renowned writing voice in the world someday, while still being addicted to games.
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