by Howie Howard
reviewed on PC
Although I am a huge fan of cycling, players don't need to be a cyclist to enjoy this sports title. With a new version of Pro Cycling Manager being introduced every year, just like with other serial sports manager games, we often wonder what could possibly be different about the new edition. Games such as RPGs, adventures, etc. release updates to fix bugs and to add content that wasn't in the game because of time constraints. Serial sports games like Pro Cycling Manager strive to introduce game enhancements each year in order to improve features that didn't work so well. Some management games try improve the user interface or try to add some realism. Teams and rider names are updated as are race routes. Developer Cynanide, have ensured that this realism is at the head of their focus. Sadly Pro Cycling Manager 2021 doesn't have any major new graphical enhancements or new modes in this years edition, but there is a lot that has been updated. The last major addition to the game was back in 2015 when the Pro Cyclist mode was added, and it's been improved and is back again this year. Along with Pro Cyclist, the beloved Manager Career Mode, the Single Race Mode, Track Mode and Multi-Online Player mode are all present and ready to start racing.
Keeping up with the peloton
One of the biggest improvements to the game this year is the better AI, along with the addition of allowing echelons to form which result in teams trying to split the peloton. When it is windy during spring classics in northern Europe and in races near the ocean, havoc can be caused in the peloton and all of that is in this year’s edition. AI has been enhanced to the point that weather conditions such as wind and rain affect rider fatigue and performance and this is a much-needed addition. Everything still looks good as the race makes its way through both city and country with cheering fans lining the race route. During some races in the early spring in the north and especially in the high mountains snow can occur. These wintry conditions can cause upheaval with the riders within the peloton. In addition to the weather, an improved AI that controls peloton behavior including end of race sprint sequences should be very well received. Add in a new manager interface and improved quick race simulation results, and Cyanide would seem to have fulfilled the requirement for an improved cycling game experience.
Bike racing is extremely popular in Europe with interest in the sport growing throughout the world, including in the US. With that said, the European Championships have been added to the game along with national championships for nations that didn't have them in the past. New winner's jerseys are present in order to accompany the added NC races. One thing that I noticed that really hasn't been addressed is the number of riders that participate in national championships. Big cycling countries like France, Italy, Spain and other European nations can have a bunch of full teams with maybe near a hundred riders total in their national races. Unfortunately smaller countries or nations like the US that don't have very many pros racing in Europe barely have enough to make it even worth running the NC. As an example, my American rider in Pro Cyclist Mode competed in the US nationals with only 39 other riders. Even though game AI seemed to handle the small number of participants admirably compared to past versions of the game, such a small peloton takes something away from the experience. Some nations, including the United States allow high level amateurs to race in their nationals. I would like to see Cyanide create a set of generic named amateurs and insert them in to fill the ranks in NC races. This would enhance realism in these races.
Realistic cycling commentary
Pro Cycling Manager 2021 continues the realism factor with the terminology that is heard throughout commentary during the races. As you might know, road rash happens when a cyclist "comes a cropper". It can happen if you are racing or simply touring around the block on a bike. I had previously never heard the term "come a cropper" before. It wasn't until I started playing Pro Cycling Manager that it meant that a rider had fallen or crashed on his bicycle. Crashing is something that happens in real life bike riding, and it happens in Pro Cycling Manager 2021 as well.
Is this newest version of Pro Cycling Manager worth the price of admission? If you haven't experienced Pro Cycling Manager before, or if it has been awhile between laps, or indeed you just want a cycling game with all of the enhancements - then yes, it is worth putting some of your hard-earned dollars down. Previous Pro Cycling Manager titles have been highly mod-able games, and that hasn't change with this iteration. Pro Cycling Manager 2021 could be regarded as a niche title, but there is quite a large fan base for cycling and cycling titles. The large amount of fan created content such as custom team kit, races and so much more says that portraying bike racing in a game can be and is exciting. Since Cyanide is the only racer in the digital cycling development game you might think that they are just coasting along from year to year. That's not true because they have done an admirable job again this year and I would recommend Pro Cycling Manager 2021 for all sports manager enthusiasts.
So get pedaling.
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Greatly improved game AI and a revamping of manager controls and screens
The graphics are basically the same and some NC races don't have enough riders in them