Farming Simulator 19 review10/01/2019
I was far too excited when I was asked to review this game. Who gets that excited over a vamped-up version of Farmville? Well, Farmville trapped me in an unhealthy addiction and so farming sims are 100% on my list of what excites me (I’m an easy date). So, did Farming Simulator (developed by Giants Software) satisfy my harvest vibes or did it leave me heading for the abattoir?
There’s not too much I can give you to explain this game other than you’re running a farm – the clue’s in the name – it’s a farming simulator. You work on a farm, you grow crops, harvest crops, sell crops and tend to the farmyard animals. Sounds simple, right? Wrong! This isn’t a “click here” to sow seeds or “drag to harvest” – this game surprised me in how technical it is. I’ve never played one of the series predecessors so wasn’t aware of how detailed it would be.
Firstly, the opening video is stunning! The graphics for a game about a farm are incredible and so much better than some other big named games on the shelves right now. The farmer (think more Diet Coke commercial than Toy Story’s ‘Stinky Pete’ for looks) opens the barn doors and the exciting farming world bursts out looking more like an opening to Gran Turismo (if they had tractors). As I sat watching, I felt my heart racing and couldn’t wait to be racing through the wheat fields. Then suddenly, I pressed play.
First things first, create your character – Another interesting addition to a game about clearing up chicken coops. Naturally, you want to look awesome on your farm, so I picked my characters’ look and style (there’s not too much to choose from but it’s satisfying enough) and got ready to chew some straw by the barn.
The actual gameplay looked just as visually magnificent as the opening scene, the sound of birds across the gently swaying wheat fields was a serene setting and the map was a vast setting of rolling hills, waterfalls and fields. Suddenly, I realised – it’s first-person view. What’s the point of deciding how your character looks if you don’t even get to see them? Still, onwards I marched.
The controls are simple enough – movement and camera settings seem quite standard across all games these days and there’s a button to crouch – Can’t quite remember if there was a jump button, ya know, just in case you want to bounce around your farm with Mad Cow Disease. No? Just me? Anyway, back on track – or should I say back on the tractor because the first thing the tutorial teaches us how to get into the vehicles around the farm (SQUARE button for anyone interested) that’s when things become a little slow paced and the controls get a little more confusing. You must drive forward and attach a weight to the front of the tractor… then reverse to attach the harvester/whatever you need to the back. I understand it’s necessary to switch farming tools for different jobs, but couldn’t they have just attached weights already? Still, it doesn’t take long to complete this first take – it may prove a little more difficult later when you aren’t lined up quite as neatly with what you’re trying to connect, but don’t worry you should get used to it and be switching ploughs for trailers like a pro.
Time to put peddle to the metal and get this wheat harvested! Oh – wait – this vehicle’s max speed is 15mph and this is a HUGE field! Yeah, the opening video lied! This game is anything but fast paced! If you aren’t the patient kind – turn off your console now.
You will find yourself driving up the field one way, trying to manoeuvre a U-turn and head back down… and remember when I said the fields aren’t small? This could take weeks. Don’t worry, there’s help at hand! Literally. You can hire help to finish the job for you and an AI character will do your ploughing for a “small” fee so you can get on with something else. But what else is there to do other than start sowing seeds in another field and getting bored so hiring help for that too. There are other ways to pass time, like taking your harvest to market to gain some cash or fulfil contracts through the town but most of them are harvesting another farmers field or transporting grain from one side of town to the other and until you have enough money to buy a faster vehicle, it’s going to take a while to get there – but don’t worry, you can set a destination and it’ll set auto-pilot whilst you find something else to do – oh, no you can’t. You literally must drive yourself there and then back – across a huge map (It’s beautiful, I have nothing against driving through the scenery) at 15mph.
There are also contracts to transport peoples’ personal items from one place to another and when you arrive they’re neatly packaged on a couple of pallets – but the tutorial only taught me how to collect grain from my harvester into my trailer – how am I supposed to get pallets onto my flatbed? You could buy a forklift. Then drive that 40,000 miles at 0.2mph to the same place as you’ve already driven your truck then still struggle to get the pallets on the back. Then drive your truck to the destination – which isn’t the destination because then you need to the be somewhere else… and then you must get your forklift there too… it can become quite frustrating and sucked some of the fun out for me.
I know it seems like I despised this game from all the moaning and complaining above – but I didn’t and feel like if I had more time, I could easily get lost in this for hours. I’m sure that once you have established yourself slowly, the speed of things will pick up – you can purchase faster vehicles and animal pens ranging from chickens, horses, pigs, cows and even a pet dog. I just feel like there was so much to do before you could start to enjoy it and although the tutorial covers the basics, it doesn’t tell you much more than how to tend to your crops and then you’re just expected to know everything else. Maybe I missed something that would’ve changed my whole experience? Maybe you can set auto-pilot or even teleport your tractor to where it needs to be? Maybe I should stick to good ol’ Farmville? Maybe I should give it another go – I think I will.