“Welcome to the greatest farming simulation ever made! Farming Simulator 2013® Titanium invites you into the challenging world of a modern day farmer. Take on all the challenges of farming life, including animal husbandry (cows, chicken and sheep), crops, sales…it’s up to you to manage and grow your own farm in a huge open world.”
Growing up, I was an avid RollerCoaster Tycoon/Zoo Tycoon/Mall Tycoon player. I had that stuff on lockdown. I knew exactly how to pacify upset gazelles, terrify customers, and get high approval ratings. Hours upon hours were spent hunched over a computer creating exhibits, towns, and rides – and I loved every second of it. I also grew up mostly in the country, and had to take a break in the middle of this article to take care of my own real chickens, so how bad could some virtual crops and chickens be? When the opportunity came up to review Farming Simulator for the Xbox 360, I decided to take it, thinking I could master this game without a hitch. This game, however, proved complex and too detailed/tedious to conquer, despite the “normal” difficulty setting.
The game has two options – Career and Tutorial. Tutorial, as it sounds, has eight parts in which different steps of the planting, harvesting, and cultivating cycle are described. Helpful but boring, it was a good idea to play through.
Career offers two options: one is an extremely bare-bones farm, suitable for already knowledgeable players, and the other offers a farm with existing structures, two vehicles, and a rooster, plus a small amount of funds, suitable for a beginner. Upon choosing either farm, a tutorial is offered to the player, which is nearly the same as the tutorial menu options.
Floating icons indicate different places to go for informative popups or options, such as buying a field. A PDA can be brought up, which contains information such as weather, finances, a map, and statistics for the in-game economy. Each screen is informative, if a bit overwhelming. The in-game economy is impressive, with demand spikes affecting sales and buying. Some side missions, such as delivering items or cutting grass, exist, but feel repetitive.
The management side of Farming Simulator truly excels with forcing the player to make executive decisions when money is scarce.
Graphics and Sound
To make sure I had the best idea of how the game would look and sound, I hooked up my Xbox to a 42″ HDTV. The graphics are, at best, on par with Half-Life 2. Textures are mediocre and only minorly detailed. Distance rendering and drawing is shaky, although that’s to be expected with an extensive map. The physics in the game are dodgy as well. Tractors, when tipped, righted themselves, or flew away. It’s possible to get stuck in a fence. I can verify this since I suck at driving virtual vehicles. Don’t worry, I’m a much better driver in real life.
The PDA and helpful pop-ups with controller tips take up most of the left side of the screen. The text on the PDA is very small, and to play it on a smaller screen would probably impede reading. The PDA contains a great deal of information which is vital to gameplay, so making it unreadable would cripple the player.
The shaky graphics and faulty physics begin to wear on the player, even if the errors were initially entertaining.
The game was overwhelming in terms of tiny details – and you had to remember all of them. It is possible to “call” a virtual helpline, which gives a brief overview of several subcategories, such as buying objects. The PDA map is only mildly helpful, since it gives the location of icons which bring up things like purchasing options, bank options, and the like. Pressing the start button brings up a menu with all the control buttons labelled, which could be a helpful resource if it wasn’t redundant due to the constant on-screen controller pop-up on the left side of the screen.
The controls for moving the character and driving the vehicles are clunky at best. When directing the character around the map, I’m 90% sure that the character walks through molasses. The sprint option made the character move so quickly it kept up with cars. Driving controls mirrored other common console driving games. Driving was hard, since it uses a single joystick, so it became tedious and hard to navigate.
The practical side of Farming Simulator doesn’t hold up. The harvesting cycle takes what feels like an eternity, so it very much depends on the player to not lose interest in the first harvest. True simulation fans will be tickled with the realism, and many will be happy with neatly planting and sowing fields, but the incomprehensible amount of time needed to
Full of authentic farming vehicles, cows that you can’t pet, and that down-home Americana feel, Farming Simulator is a decent game to borrow from someone else. Fully representative of the long process of cultivating and maintaining a farm, it may not capture everyone’s attention.
Farming Simulator has gone through several iterations, from a release in 2010 to subsequent releases in 2012 and 2013. Initially developed for the European market, it crept its way into American markets. The American console releases hit stores on November 19th of this year. In addition, Farming Simulator 2014 was released for mobile platforms on November 18th.
Farming Simulator is currently $27.99 on Steam, $29.99 for Xbox 360 or PS3, $29.99 for 3DS, $9.99 for PSVita, and available for mobile on Kindle, iOS, and Android. Stay up to date with new DLC releases and other developments at the official site. In addition, follow the developers on their official Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube pages.