Monday, August 8, 2016

Professional Farmer 2017 Review (XONE)

I love Farming Simulator 15.  I love it so much I put it on my 2015 XONE Top 10 list and even sneaked it onto a Best Xbox One RPGs list I did for as well.  But I want more stuff to do.  Bigger.  Better.  Different equipment.  Someone please give me more virtual farming!  I was optimistic that Professional Farmer 2017 would scratch that itch but, sadly, it just isn’t up to the task.  Long load times, clunky gameplay, and a lack of common sense quality-of-life features to make the game actually fun to play doom Professional Farmer 2017 almost immediately.  Find out all of the details here in our full review.

Game Details

  • Publisher: United Independent Entertainment
  • Developer: VIS Visual Imagination Software
  • ESRB Rating: “E” for Everyone
  • Genre: Simulation
  • Pros: Music
  • Cons: Load times; clunky gameplay; exceedingly tedious and boring; common sense features absent
  • MSRP: $40

It isn’t usually kosher to directly compare games in a review, but when the flaws of one stand out in such contrast to the other it is hard not to.  As you can probably guess, in this case I’m talking about Farming Simulator 15 and Professional Farmer 2017.  I look at them this way - People on the outside just assume Farming Simulator is slow and boring and clunky and dumb, but the reality is that it has a lot of really smart mechanics to make it fun and playable.  On the other hand, Professional Farmer 2017 actually is just slow and boring and clunky and dumb without any of the clever design decisions to make it an actual fun videogame for humans. 

The reason why Farming Simulator 15 is fun and playable is because, while it is a simulation, it isn’t super rigid about it.  You can instantly teleport to all of your equipment.  You can instantly hire A.I. workers to do all of the boring stuff (and everything else, too) and aren’t penalized for doing so.  You can buy and sell equipment right from the menu.  Your fields are right next to your farm.  It all makes sense from a videogame standpoint to make the game fun. 

By contrast, Professional Farmer 2017 makes doing pretty much everything much harder than it should be.  You can teleport to your other equipment, but have to go through clunky menus (and long load times) to do it.  And you can hire workers but, again, you have to go through the awful menus and they don’t even show up onscreen!  Your field just magically gets plowed after a set period of time.  Buying equipment requires you to actually go to the store in town.  And, for some weird reason (maybe it is normal in Europe?), your farm with all of your equipment is a mile away from the fields so you have to slowly and tediously drive back and forth to do anything.  On top of that, going from your farm to the fields or to town greets you with long annoying load times. 

I understand that a lot of these things were done to make Professional Farmer 2017 technically more realistic than Farming Simulator, but some concessions have to be made in order to make the game actually fun to play.  Running out of gas constantly is a pain in the butt.  Having to plow, then grub, then spray, then plant every field is a pain in the butt.  Having to drive for miles back and forth to fetch equipment is a pain in the butt.  Crops also take several in-game months to grow, which is absolutely ridiculous.  Doing anything with the animal aspect of the game – cows, pigs, chickens – is a huge pain in the butt.  You can just go on and on here.  Nothing is streamlined to make it fun.  It just feels like work.

What really fouls the experience of Professional Farmer 2017, however, is that the gameplay itself just isn’t very good.  None of the equipment feels very good to drive and hooking up trailers and other implements is clunky and haphazard at best.  Also, as strictly as the game adheres to realism elsewhere, it has no problem letting you plow your field or plant seeds or harvest the crop at unrealistically high speeds.  I guess that was a concession to try to make the game a little quicker and more fun, but it makes no sense.  Likewise, the game isn’t strict about actually evenly and accurately plowing and planting every inch of your field and instead just gives you a very generous completion percentage.  You can do loop-de-loops with your plow and leave big sections untouched, but once the counter hits 100% the field is good to go for the next step.  That’s just weird!

At least the presentation is mostly okay in Professional farmer 2017.  The menus are pretty poor, but the in-game graphics are solid enough.  The equipment looks decent – though most of it isn’t officially licensed – and the fields and crops look good.  The dirt also looks like real dirt, which is something Farming Simulator can’t really say.  On the other hand, however, the lighting is pretty awful.  The lights and beacons on your equipment are like stupidly bright tiny suns that look terrible and blow the contrast out of everything around them.  The sound is exactly what you’d expect – lots of equipment noises – but the game also has some decent music while you work, which I dig. 

Professional Farmer 2017 is just full of weird design decisions that sap all of the fun out of the game.  Don’t get me wrong, Farming Simulator 15 has its own set of issues and nitpicks, but it is a master class in expert game design compared to Professional Farmer 2017.  All of that, plus the severe lack of content – one map, only a small selection of different equipment – compared to the competition, makes the $40 asking price here just kind of ridiculous.  In a vacuum Professional Farmer 2017 might not seem so bad, but in direct comparison to its closest competition it is just awful.  Don’t bother.
Disclosure: A review code was provided by the publisher.