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Pro Cycling Manager 2023 Review

Reading Time: 5 minutes

Fast Facts

Pro Cycling Manager 2023

Developer: Cyanide Studio
Publisher: Nacon
Genre(s): Sports, Simulation
Platform: Steam
Age Rating: PEGI 7
Release Date: 8 June 2023
Price: £34.99

A code was provided for review purposes

Pro Cycling Manager 2023 is the latest edition of the game made by Cyanide Studio in France. I decided to try out and see what’s here since I’m a casual fan of road cycling.

UI changed, but graphics stayed the same

I haven’t played a Pro Cycling Manager game since the 2015 edition, and while I can see that while some environment models have been updated, the UI has gotten somewhat worse, in my opinion. The older games were more stylized. This version feels too generic, in my opinion. For example, the font has changed, and now every rider’s name has a big black box over it. This feels like an unnecessary change that only serves to make everything look the same. I can’t say for sure how much has changed. While there do seem to be some new animations, such as riders flicking their elbows to ask for other rider’s help, which adds to the atmosphere and realism.

Additionally, I think a graphical refresh would be good for the series, though given the developers’ workload, I understand why that might not be possible.

2 bike riders going up a cobblestone climb
Even when trying to take photos, this UI still gets in the way.

It also should be noted that due to the number of licenses in cycling, and this being a game mainly for the Tour De France and its associated races, like Paris-Roubaix and Liège–Bastogne–Liège, a lot of the team names and rider names are randomized. However, I can say that you can use the Steam Workshop to get a fan-created database for the game. This is more accurate, but for the purposes of this review, I’m just gonna stick with the default database.

Become the best rider and manager

Pro Cycling Manager 2023 has a few modes to dive into. The two main draws are career mode and pro cyclist mode. The idea behind each mode is pretty simple: take your team to victory. The main difference between the two is that career mode is where you choose or create your own team and fill it with riders and staff as you try and climb your way up the ranks. You can also create the super team of your dreams with riders like Jonas Vingegaard, Mathieu van der Poel, and Julian Alaphilippe. Be warned, you can’t take all the superstars, as salary restrictions won’t let you.

In these games, I like to build a team of up-and-comers from the young riders I have. However, it is harder to make them perform well if you don’t use things like training camps and objectives to help them develop. Additionally, important elements such as good results and a consistently planned schedule help you perform better on race day.

A screenshot of young riders who aren't currently on the team.
Nothing screams management game more than going through spreadsheets that look slightly more appealing than the ones in Excel.

In gameplay, the game can be a little difficult to wrap you’re head around if you’re new to the series, but here are the basics. You control 6-8 guys in a race, and depending on what kind of racing you’re doing, you’re goal is to get your leader in a position to win the final sprint, attack on the final climb, or be able to catch the guy at the front of the field going up a hill. It’s a fun time, honestly, and while the controls take a while to get used to, it’s pretty fun once you get the hang of it.

Pro Cyclist mode scales this down a little. You’re in control of your player alone. It’s up to you to decide what kind of rider you want to become. I chose Sprinter, but something that this game does to make up for that is being able to train in different categories to become better in different areas, like on hills or cobblestones. I find this pretty good, as it helps you become more of a multi-area threat, which I personally appreciate. In gameplay, you have limited control of your teammates, but you can leave them to do their own thing. I honestly found them more of a hindrance than a help.

Extras are a bit lacking

There’s not much to do outside of the two main modes. You can do a one-day race or a tour with select teams, which is fun but more of the same gameplay that you’ve been doing for a while if you have played the other two modes. The only other mode outside of that is Track racing, which is fun and a bit more mindless. However, if that is your sort of cycling, the races are pretty neat to play, such as the points races, where you have to sprint for certain laps to get the best score, or the 200m time trial, where you are against the clock. The problem is that nothing has been added since the last version I played, so while revisiting modes is fun, they don’t do anything new for me personally.

2 French riders, 3 Dutch riders and a Belgian rider sprint for the finish line on a cycling track.
Behold the power of the track sprint finish dutch angle!

Fans have created mods to bring Cyclocross into this game. Maybe that will help push for some different gameplay mechanics. Modes like BMX or cross-country cycling would be great. I feel that adding some new modes or at least adding other disciplines to the track modes would help give players more to do. There’s also multiplayer, but I found it very hard to find a game, and when I did, the game crashed.

Final Thoughts

Pro Cycling Manager 2023 is pretty fun to play, but the game has become as predictable as Tom Boonen attacking on the Taaienberg climb in a bike race. What’s there is still fun, and I think it’s one of the better sports games out on the market for fans. It’s just a bit stale, and the UI downgrading itself, in my opinion, hasn’t helped that feeling. There’s much to like in this game’s Career and Pro Cyclist modes. However, for £35, I would wait for a price drop, especially if you’ve played the previous iterations of this game.

Rapid Reviews Rating

3.5 out of 5

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