Like Keyboard Cat, Tay Zonday and Star Wars Kid, Farming Simulator is somewhat of a YouTube sensation. Video after video has appeared online of players (or should that be farmers) driving tractors and harvesting crops on the PC version.
As the name suggests, players take control of a farm, completing everyday activities such as ploughing fields, planting seeds and harvesting crops. Just like in real life, the aim of the game is to earn as much money as possible. Following on from its viral success, the title has been ported to consoles. But is this a game that is at the top of its field or a load of bull?
Collectibles in Farming Simulator come in the form of horseshoes, which are scattered around the farm. In addition to the achievements they provide, players are rewarded with a rainbow once all 100 have been collected. Initially, it doesn’t sound like the most exciting of rewards. However, at the end of the spectrum is a pot of gold, which adds a hefty load to the player’s bank balance. It’s a simple, yet nice touch to the game.
Before players delve into the game, Farming Simulator is plagued with problems. For example, there is only one game mode to choose from, in the form of “Career”, which can be played in Hagenstedt (a European style area) and Westbridge Hills (a large area in the USA, exclusive to the console version). With the exception of size, the differences between the two farm landscapes are minimal and there are no real benefits of either.
Furthermore, the choice of difficulty doesn’t deepen the gameplay in any shape or form; it simply provides players with a negative bank balance to start with, as well as less income from selling crops and the game’s side missions.
Farming Simulator’s biggest problem is that it isn’t a great farming simulator. Unsurprisingly, ploughing fields, sowing seeds, harvesting crops and repeating the process over and over again gets tedious quickly.
The only variety in the game comes from the side missions, which consist of either mowing the lawn or delivering a package from A to B using a forklift. These optional missions are as boring and repetitive as the main missions, though (quite bizarrely) they provide a greater reward and aren’t as time-consuming, making them more beneficial to the player.
As with most simulators, Farming Simulator contains a steep learning curve. While the tutorials make getting to grips with the game a little easier, players will have to get over the difficulty of learning what each vehicle and its attachments do, among other aspects of the game.
Another issue is that the title isn’t overly realistic. Despite the game emphasising the weather in the PDA, as well as in the top right corner of the screen, it’s constantly sunny. There’s no snow, no wind and no rain. To add insult to injury, the lack of seasons mean that players can plant and harvest any crops they want, without any consequences. This exclusion from the game just seems a little odd and is extremely noticeable.
Finally, the incredibly dodgy physics mean that collisions with traffic and scenery can cause your vehicle to get stuck – a frustrating feature that is often unavoidable within the title.