In an attempt to get away, I make Richard Virenque attack on the last but three mountain. Without any problems I get away and soon I've taken 3 minutes when I've reached the top. After a short descent, the real work can start: the Galibier, followed by Alpe d'Huez!
Thanks to some great climbing from Richard, the gap widens to 8 minutes at the top of the last but one mountain and the highest peak in the Tour. The American postmen (aka US Postal) start to become suspicious at the bottom of the last climb and they take the lead of the pack. The advance is soon halved. The Boss is still not satisfied and attacks himself. Soon my frontman feels the warm breath of Armstrong and I have to watch how he rides himself into pieces and finishes at the end of the pack.
Completely exhausted and disappointed I get myself comforted by another Fragland-crewmember. The fact that I own the red polka dot jersey doesn't really cheer me up. Life can be so hard!
Every gamer who dares call himself a cycling fan knows IT. IT is almost the only game where bicycles do appear. IT is the counterpart of Championship Manager for cycling. Before IT, there were two previous attempts to bring the sport of cycling to your pc screen. IT is the greatest cycling simulator and IT is called Cycling Manager 3...
Let's start with the changes with respect to CyM 2. The two notable improvements when you ride a game are the graphics and the interface. The graphics are namely - as in CyM 2 - in 3D, but really improved. The jerseys and the bicycles are particularly beautiful (when you pause the game, you can even read the brand names on the wheels, the helmets and the frames). The road surface is nicely done and the animations are not bad. The 3D spectators really do support the riders. There is a lot of variation in the spectators and they all do something different. When the pack rides slowly just after the start, the spectators start booing. And don't frighten when suddenly a car rushes by (it happens once in a while). Clipping errors are also present. When for instance a rider attacks from the middle of the pack, he'll ride through all the other riders. This'll probably be made to avoid the frustration when you get stuck in the pack, but it gives an impression of incompleteness.
The scenery is another story. It is very monotonous and not in three dimensions but in flat bitmaps. A wood is more green square with tree-textures than something natural. On one occasion there was a wood in the middle of the road and the pack just rode through it. The houses are very flat, the *** look more like some sand and everyone of them look the same. A curb is taken in angles and sometimes very fast (to take a curb of 90 degrees in a descent at 99 km/h is a funny sight). The maximum shown speed is 99 km/h, but if my rider has one minute to the pack while both ride at this same speed, then this obviously gives an image of inaccurateness.
The interface is very handy, but it sometimes blocks the sight. Luckily, you can switch between all options of the interface with the F-button which makes that the game is a lot handier.
The gameplay is next. The database it rather extensive. None less than 40 official teams (only Rabobank didn't want to give a license, so this was replaced by Robinbank), over 180 official contests (in first and second class) and some statistics of previous seasons are available. Apart from the riders from the renowned Robinband, there are some other changed names and pictures. Lance Neilstrung for example is the frontman of the US Postal team. There are a lot of pictures missing but thanks to the extended community there are some user-made patches to solve this problem.
The extended skills from the riders are also amazing. There are about 12 different skills for each rider with different starting values. Museeuw is the king of the ***, while Ullrich is great at climbling and time trials. You can train these skills by making a training schedule or by making your trainer do this. Do take care with the latter option because the trainer has some priorities and the rest of the skills are neglected. If you have a rider with 85 (= very high) for time trials, then the trainer will probably neglect his time trial capacities to train another skill. Besides the trainer, you can also hire doctors (your riders heal faster) and scouts (the don't really have a use). Every member of personnel has certain level. A doctor with international fame will cure a rider faster than a doctor who is only known by some peasant of the region.
The AI is not bad at all. If the yellow jersey is good at climbing, then he'll take a place at the front of the pack to counter any attacks by his opponents.
To end, I have something to tell you about the multiplayer. I really regret that, probably thanks to my router, races with other players are impossible. I have tried 20 times of which I was able to start the race twice (the other 18 times I didn't even get a connection). Then I had constantly connection problems and my riders just kept on riding. So while I got information about attacks from certain riders, I still saw those riders riding smoothly. If I wanted my own riders to attack, the same happened: nothing. I can't tell you something about multiplayer features, but according to the fans, they are worthwhile.
To finish I'd like to say the Cycling Manager 3 has become a fun cycling simulator, but after a week or so it starts to bore. The improvements with respect to CyM 2 are notable and they justify the download of CyM 3. If the changed names of some riders frustrate you, you can always change it in the ingame editor (you can change really everything there). It is a real must for every cycling addict.
People who downloaded Cycling Manager 3 have also downloaded:
Pro Cycling Manager, Dave Mirra Freestyle BMX, F1 Manager 2000, Total Club Manager 2005, RTL Ski Jumping 2007, Cross Racing Championship 2005, FIFA Manager 07, Deluxe Ski Jump
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