Thursday, June 30, 2016

Farming Simulator 15 Review (XONE)

A game called Farming Simulator sounds like the dumbest most boring idea ever, but it turns out it can be one of the most addictive and fun and satisfying games you’ll ever play if you give it a chance.  We love Farming Simulator 15.  Like, really, really love it.  Find out why in our full review.

Game Details

Publisher: Focus Home Interactive
Developer: Giants Software
ESRB Rating: “E” for Everyone
Genre: Simulation
Pros: Awesomely satisfying; tons of real equipment; lots of depth; addictive
Cons: Logging sucks; very slow for first few hours
MSRP: $50

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Farming Simulator 15 is just what it sounds like – a simulation of farming.  That means it is slow and somewhat tedious and repetitive, but when everything comes together it is pretty much the most satisfying work (videogame) you can do.  The game is filled with real licensed equipment from Case, New Holland, and even Lamborghini (yeah, they make tractors too) and the equipment functions just like the real deal.  Planters, plows, harvesters, tractors, etc. all really work like they’re supposed to.  You don’t have to be a farmer to appreciate the attention to detail on display here.  It is just cool to look at.

Because it is a simulation, however, that means the game is pretty slowly paced.  You can’t plow your
field too fast or plant too fast because the equipment just doesn’t work that way.  Plodding along at 7-MPH while working is just how things are in Farming Simulator.  Thankfully, the developers allow you to hire up to six A.I. workers to do the really boring and tedious things.  This is the real saving grace of the experience because you can focus on the more fun things like buying new equipment and delivering your harvest and making money instead of the boring stuff. 

The game takes several hours to really pick up, unfortunately, which may turn some less patient players away.  Those first few hours require you to use the smallest, slowest equipment and it really is a tedious grind until you earn enough money to start buying bigger and more efficient equipment.  Once you do start buying new equipment, and bigger fields, and planting new types of crops, and really making money, on the other hand, the game gets really, really fun and satisfying.  There is also a surprising variety to the gameplay as crops like corn or potatoes require different planting and harvesting than wheat does, so it keeps things interesting.  You can also bale hay, mow lawns, deliver items around town, and even raise animals.  The game is nuts with how much you can do.

One optional side activity isn’t so good, however, and that is logging.  The game has a full set of logging equipment and missions, but the logging itself is absolutely terrible.  The machinery is extremely hard to use and is generally just a huge pain in the butt.  It does pay well if you’re willing to put up with the awful controls, but for most folks it isn’t really worth it.  The logging equipment is really cool, at least, with one machine that can cut down a tree, strip the branches, and cut it to set lengths all at once.  Too bad that machine is stupidly hard to use.  And don’t even get me started on making wood chips.  That crap is just wack.

The presentation also won’t exactly win anyone over who isn’t already convinced.  The game looks okay and there are full day/night cycles and weather that actually looks pretty decent, but the game also gets progressively worse looking the longer you play it.  This is because the game only renders background details in a circle around your position, and the more “stuff” you have in the game world (more fields working, more equipment, etc.) the smaller that circle gets, so you see crops popping in 30-meters ahead of you.  It isn’t a good look.  The equipment itself does look surprisingly good, though, and like I said above is very detailed and functions and operates very realistically.  There isn’t much to say about the audio as it is mostly just monotone engine noises.

I have to admit that I’ve put a solid 200-hours into Farming Simulator 15 between Xbox One and Xbox 360 at this point and I still love it.  It is just really satisfying and rewarding to play, and the realistic equipment really is a draw for me.  I was a kid who grew up playing with Tonka trucks in the dirt, and my dad worked around heavy machinery (not farm equipment, though) when I was a kid, so being able to play with big trucks and tractors and stuff is really appealing to me.  I think there are a lot of other people like that out there as well who still want to just play in the dirt and Farming Simulator 15 is the best way to do that on Xbox One.  I know it sounds dumb and boring, but give it a chance.  It really is a ton of fun.

Disclosure: A review code was provided by the publisher.