Review: Farming Simulator 2013
Farming Simulator knocks all that kind of criticism aside as it debuts on console, bringing with it the sort of mind numbing tedium normally associated with filling in tax returns. Now you’re thinking ‘Ah, it’s going to be one of those reviews’ where some nitwit who knows nothing about the very nerdy and specific simulator he’s been given to play trashes it without a moments thought.
Okay, perhaps I’m being unkind. Whether it be train driving or plane flying, part of the joy of a simulator is in the details. Loosing yourself in the repetition of specific jobs. Farming Simulator can at least claim to do that.
How do you plough a patch of land? You drive very slowly up and down it in straight lines. How do you sow crops into that land? You drive up and down it very slowly. In straight lines. How do you harvest those aforementioned crops? You drive… well you get the point. Is this repetition doing anything for you? If so, Farming Simulator might be for you.
But hold on there a second. Despite featuring authentic vehicles and machines, Farming Simulator is not the accurate representation of modern farming it claims to be. If it is, then the bridge I just built out of boredom from a couple of old loo rolls and a pencil case is an accurate representation of the Golden Gate Bridge. Yeah, that far off. I’ll explain why in a bit.
So you get to pick which farm you start on. One is a vaguely Germanic looking European affair, the other is an American heartland type. You know, the kind you would imagine Ma and Pa Kent running whilst trying to keep little Supes out of trouble. The worlds themselves look sterile and lifeless, like somebody’s had a go at animating a particularly bland postcard. This is not that much of a problem in itself, as it kind of contributes to the weird kids-playing-with farmyard-machinery vibe the game gives off.
It’s like a five year old’s idea of what driving that big tractor would be like. Listen to the loud engine noises it makes. Don’t worry about the fact that all vehicles handle nearly exactly the same. The physics of the vehicles is slightly off too and doesn’t have the weight or feeling of force to it that you’d expect.
A similar level of depth is applied to the weather and seasons. The weather changes but doesn’t appear to have any discernible impact on the crops. As for the seasons; there aren’t any. This makes the running of the farm not only unrealistic, but laughably simple. Not having to plan which crops to use at which time and having to take no account of the weather takes the challenge out of things.
On top of that, specific reward missions are dolled out for things like cutting grass and give a large bonus, but are predictably boring. It would have been nice to see some bonus missions with a bit of drama to them. But no, more monotonous tasks it is then. Cheers for that, Farming Simulator.
The tutorial is perfunctory and shows you how to use all your farm machinery. However it doesn’t explain the layout of the place and where you need to go to get the best price for your crops. This, you have to find out on your own and since the map is fairly big it can be a slightly soul-crushing experience.
Farming Simulator is like a finely honed monotony engine, perfectly geared to slow all time to a crawl. Were scientists able to harness its power, perhaps they could actually reverse time and stop it from being made. Or at the very least, save me from having played it.
Farming Simulator 2013 is out now on Xbox 360, PlayStation 3 and PC.