Game Review: Farming Simulator (PS3/Xbox 360)
Grab your wellies, dungarees a warm jacket and a straw hat boys and girls, because we’re about to take a journey into the farming world with Farming Simulator and you’re going to get your hands dirty! The name of the game is quite simple, you are a farmer and you must take control of the fields you start with and expand to something much larger.
Career mode is where the fun is at and you can choose which difficulty you wish to proceed with, easy being the preferred choice for beginners. The game starts you with a friendly tutorial level but if you wish you can just jump in and get started on another farm. The tutorial teaches you the roles of certain vehicles you have in your possession from the start of the game along with other useful tips you may find handy during your time out in the mud and grass. You start with limited vehicles and zero livestock which doesn’t bring in much of an income, but to get the ball rolling the game teaches you the importance of harvesting wheat and selling it at the local town. Here you can also sell eggs (from your chickens), fill up your vehicles with gas (there are more locations on the map) and also purchase or sell equipment to help you expand. Speaking of expanding, you are also able to take loans from the bank to help you through any hard financial time you may encounter, but be warned, you’ve got to pay all of those loans back so use them wisely!
There are many types of vehicle to purchase depending on what direction you wish to go. From Harvesters, trailers, tanks, portable tanks, potato harvesters, tractors and mowers etc. You don’t have to purchase them all, which is a good thing; instead you can focus on certain areas and build on the things you enjoy doing most. Harvesting wheat was a chore but was very simple to do and I could harvest a few fields using the vehicles I had from the start, so crop growing wasn’t going to be much of an issue. Switching from vehicle to vehicle isn’t hard either, pressing left or right on the d-pad takes you from one to the next, but if you wish to travel to a particular destination on the map then you have to do so manually which can take a while especially in slower vehicles.
You can also purchase livestock from the local town but there isn’t a wide variety. You can purchase cows for milk, sheep for wool and chicken for eggs. The more you purchase the more you have to spend daily in order to keep them in top condition and well fed, however owning livestock can create a healthy income so it’s something I would suggest thinking about early on in the game.
During your time playing the career mode you will receive missions from the local communities around you, these range from tasks such as mowing lawns, delivering special items or moving particular items for rather silly locals. If you wish to do certain missions you will have to purchase particular vehicles, but it’s good to know that some of these missions are repeated, so for example you can use that mower again if need be rather than buy it and then sell it at a loss soon after. Doing side missions gives you extra money to spend on your farm, so the more you do the more income you get, but losing track of tasks needed to be done back on the farmland is easily done, so completing missions sparingly is best. You can set how often you wish to receive missions in the options menu, setting them to every two minutes is not ideal as they disturb you from your current objectives/workload.
Visually the game is not a stunner, but for what it is I still remain impressed. Textures take a while to load and sometimes you wonder if your crops or plant life are a little sick due to their thinning complexion, but you have to remember that this isn’t an AAA title so it isn’t going to blow everyone away. Whilst the environment was rather plain, the vehicles all had their own unique features and all felt different to drive and use even though the controls remained the same. With over 100 vehicles to use in game they’ve done a fantastic job at making this simulation game feel real even if driving down a steep rocky bank at top speed in my tractor didn’t do any damage.
Overall I’d say this particular title is something for a particular crowd, if you have no interest in simulation games or anything similar then I would say don’t waste your time. Whilst starting this title for the first time can be different, fun and challenging it can soon become a chore and boring to play. The sim maniacs in the crowd will find hours of enjoyment, but for the majority of us we’ll soon find a shelf to home it on. If you’ve played anything similar or have indeed played this particular title on the PC then you will be happy with what they’ve done on console, it’s a delight to play in many aspects but you have to be the right type of gamer to truly love it.