Snore Simulator: A Review Of Pro Cycling Manager 2013
I keep a notebook when I’m reviewing a game. It’s for jotting down notes, thoughts… anything I think might be of value when stitching together a review. To give you an inside look at the process, and since I think they might be telling, here are my notes for Pro Cycling Manager 2013:
“Is this music from a porn? A pornographic movie?”
“I have no idea what I’m doing.”
“I thought I got to race bicycles in this game…?!”
“Did they make this in Excel?”
“Not a janky mess! (Though it’d be hard to make a janky spreadsheet.)”
“When. Do. I. Race.”
“I don’t even know which dude I am.”
“The spectators look as bored as meeeee…”
“No idea what happened. Twenty six minutes of HD asses–porn music makes sense now.”
Pro Cycling Manager 2013’s biggest problem is its lack of accessibility, meaning it’s not accessible to anyone. This is far from the first game in this series by developer Cyanide, so if there’s interest, and they’re iterating on a game in the way several other professional sports titles do, they’re ostensibly reaching for a larger market. The pre-order for this title was even prominently displayed on Steam; there’s clear effort being made to get this game in the hands of more people.
That’s exactly why it’s such a shame to get into Pro Cycling Manager 2013 and find no tutorials whatsoever. At the beginning of the game, the screen looks like a colorful Excel spreadsheet, and that’s it. It’s your job to manage your way to filling that screen by scheduling training and events, selecting teams, and looking at individual player statistics. Good luck with that. Even after searching through menu after menu, you won’t find anything that tells you what to do or what you are looking at. It’s just you and your mouse, hopelessly clicking and pining for something to make sense.
At some point, you will start to wonder when you will get to see any actual racing in Pro Cycling Manager 2013 (these beautiful screenshots presented here were press assets–you’ll spend most of your time in spreadsheets and menus, and these do not accurately represent what the race portion even looks like). There’s a button that indicates that you’re ready to move to the next day’s events, but nothing tells you when you are ready or what you need to do to get ready, much less if “next day’s events” equates to any kind of competition. You take a guess, and you push the button. I had to push it seventeen times–advancing through what, to someone somewhere, apparently represents a calendar–before I even got to a different screen. But then I didn’t know what that screen was, either.
“It’s nigh impossible to play unless you sit down with online reference materials, an act which only serves to turn this boring experience into the penultimate boring experience.”
Now, when I finally did chance upon the racing portion of the game, I thought it would be “where the action is,” but I was woefully ignorant of exactly how wrong I could be. Riders eventually start moving (though that’s nothing to do with you), but the gaudy interface quickly douses any enthusiasm you’ve mustered to this point. The screen resembles a cluttered MMO more than anything else, with several information bars, colored blocks, and text littering every corner of the screen, with not a single one of them labeled.
Presumably, the developers knew you’d be busy trying to decipher this on-screen hodgepodge and didn’t even bother to make the experience interactive; player interaction is practically non-existent, even in these races. You can hover your mouse over some of the icons, but even then, the only thing I learned is that I can feed and water my hamsters. I mean… riders.
Something else I discovered is that, with a simple roll of the mouse wheel, you can highlight different racers. Now, the highlighting marker seemed to stay the same pukey chartreuse color no matter which racer I highlighted, so maybe none of them were mine (or all of them were mine?!), but eventually I was able to highlight the rider in the first place position. This at least let me see the whole track, and for what it’s worth, the scenery in this game doesn’t disappoint.
But honestly, it can’t be stressed enough–this game does not give a fuuuucckk about you as the player. There are no tutorials, tips, or how-to guides to speak of, and only about half of the icons you need to navigate this game are even labeled. It’s nigh impossible to play unless you sit down with online reference materials, an act which only serves to turn this boring experience into the penultimate boring experience.
To test exactly how broken the whole mess is, I started a new game and didn’t touch a single thing. Not a single rider, roster, or schedule was even looked at. No pull-down menus were accessed, no charts inspected… the only thing I tended to were mandatory button prompts after a pop-up window declared that “some matters require your attention.” There were four of these, and I didn’t read anything except to find the “accept” button.
I pushed “accept” on those prompts, and then pushed the aforementioned “next day” button twenty three times until I got to a race on the schedule. I have no idea if I won, and I have no idea who won. But someone did win, more stuff happened, and then I found myself right back at my Excel spreadsheet, clueless and alone.
That should tell you all that you need to know about Pro Cycling Manager 2013. I could toss in the sophomoric “fans of the genre” line, but let’s face it, this is the only game in the genre. If you somehow managed to squeak any enjoyment out of the previous entries in the series, I’m sincerely pleased as punch for you. For the rest of us, I simply cannot recommend this game if you value your time on Earth.
Pixels or Death gives Pro Cycling Manager 2013 a 1 out of 5.