The idea of a simulator game is to give you an in-depth representation of a very specific aspect of a job or lifestyle. Farming Simulator doesn’t quite achieve that, unfortunately; it’s less of a sim game, and more of a lazy attempt at translating farming tasks to trivial gameplay. The option exists to run the game in real-time, and you can choose to wake up at 6am and begin harvesting your crops then if you wish, but beyond that, Farming Simulator on the console is a pretty cartoonified take on running a farm.
The game mode and premise is simple – at the start of the career, you’re given a farmhouse, a few fields and $100,000 worth of debt. The aim is simple; manage your farm well enough to pay off your investment loan and turn a profit. This is achieved through a variety of means – you can plant and sow seeds, fertilize them to maximize your yield and then harvest them to be sold at local granaries, or you can invest your money in a limited amount of livestock, or – should you prefer – you can undertake missions using your farming hardware to help out local citizens in need.
Every aspect of the game is repetitive – as you’d expect, sowing, fertilizing and harvesting involves trekking in lines up and down your fields until the task is complete (you can hire staff to do this for you, and due to a bug in the game’s code, seeds won’t deplete if sowed by a hired hand, allowing you a direct shortcut to profit should you need it). Driving harvested crops to a depot is equally as dull – tractors with low top-speeds and dodgy driving mechanics make traversing the open world setting of your farm an unenjoyable slog, and you’ll spend far more time than you’d like trundling along a badly rendered road. You can’t even enjoy the ambient graphics, because the game suffers from an horrific texture pop-in from time to time that is unjustifiable when you consider the game looks like it was made for the PS2.
Missions are limited in their scope, and in an hour of playing, we were asked to cut the same patch of grass for a realtor twice. The only other type of missions offered to us were fetch-and-deliver quests with a forklift truck that were uninspired and mundane.
Overall, Farming Simulator does not feel like a simulator – if the point of the game is to offer a realistic experience of what it’s like to run a farm, the game fails: people never fatigue (your staff will work straight through the 24-clock if left unattended), livestock produce is harvested by AI automatically and there’s a few game-breaking exploits that completely undermine the game. Farming Simulator’s saving grace is its potential use as an educational tool for those that wish to learn more about the history of farming hardware.