Title: Farming Simulator 17
Available On: Playstation 4, Xbox One, Microsoft Windows, Macintosh
Developer: GIANTS Software
Publisher: Focus Home Interactive
Official Site: www.farming-simulator.com
Release Date: October 25, 2016
Where To Buy: Playstation Store, Steam, Xbox Marketplace
Video games can offer us a great way to escape from the tedium and monotony of everyday life. They give us an opportunity to travel to mystical lands and perform heroic deeds while progressing in very satisfying ways. Well, just in case your real life is way too exciting, Farming Simulator 17 offers you a chance to escape to a bleak land of endless fields, cow dung and all the tedium and monotony of a hard day’s work without the feeling of satisfaction that comes along with it.
Farming Simulator 17 is an open sandbox game that gives you a farm which includes all the amenities traditional farm offers. You start with a couple tractors, some attachable machinery, a harvestable field of wheat and if you’re a newcomer, absolutely no idea what you’re doing.
After choosing from two different starting locations (a bleak Russian town and a generic Smalltown, USA) there are a few tutorials to get you started, but, even with these, once you find yourself done with the initial tasks they set out for you, it can be difficult to get started. You will find yourself checking the menu help constantly or just completely exiting the game to play through one of the tutorials in the opening menu (lots of tutorials. Yay!).
Once you do get going (correction: if), you’ll be plowing, sowing and harvesting your way to the big time. Fields need to cultivated, then sewn with specific seeds before they can start growing crops, a long and tedious process which requires you to manually drive the machinery doing it (which takes a long time) or hire a worker and wait for them to finish it (which also takes a long time). Once they have grown, you harvest them, fill a trailer and drive on down to the market where there is a living, breathing economy that yo-yos crop prices up and down between different buyers.
The shifting economy in Farming Simulator is cool and offers the depth of playing the market to those interested in the minutiae of the business side of farming. There are also financial spreadsheets that allow you to track the daily cost of everything from maintenance to animal upkeep to the accumulating interest on your loans. Once you begin to make some money, you can expand your operation by buying more land and animals.
You can choose to run your farm however you want to. There are nine different types of crops and three different farm animals (the same for both locations, unfortunately). You can choose to specialize in one or you can do a little bit of everything. You also have the option of doing some lumberjacking, planting trees and then logging them. There is definitely a lot here, and if you are looking to sink some hours while building a farming empire, there is plenty to do. The problem is, none of it is very fun.
The gameplay itself feels clunky on the Playstation 4 giving you the sense that it wasn’t meant for console. Driving controls are incredibly frustrating as their sensitivity feels inconsistent. After you spend five minutes trying to reverse your tractor at the correct angle in order to attach a trailer, resentment can start to build. On top of that, toggling shoulder buttons to control different tools never really feels comfortable or fluid.
Visually, Farming Simulator 17 is not very pretty. The graphics look okay at a glance but don’t hold up well to any close inspection. You can see far in the distance, but this is offset by the high amount of pop-up with closer objects no more than 20m in front of my avatar. On top of that, the actual physics are terribly goofy too as your tractor bounces off things like it’s a toy made of rubber and its interaction with objects is inconsistent.
As far as sounds, there is a radio which gives you four station options – rock, country, electro and pop. As a fan of rock, the rock station is pretty terrible and the only one I was able to stand was the pop station. Each of the stations has a very limited number of songs that become repetitive after only an hour or two. Besides that, there is no voice acting and the sound effects are your basic sounds of engines humming and chickens clucking.
The world itself feels pretty empty. There are tons of other farms and shops with traffic periodically rolling by and occasional pedestrians that you can’t interact with, but it really doesn’t feel populated. You can go to nearby farms and help the farmers thereby taking care of their fields in exchange for cash, but there is no real interaction with anything except blue icons.
The in-game shop has an impressive selection, giving you tons of options when upgrading your equipment ranging from cheap starters to insanely expensive top of the line gear. With 40 different categories, you can buy and sell to your heart’s contents attempting to build up the best collection of tractors and trailers possible. There are mods available on PS4, but most of them deal with adding more equipment here.
Overall, Farming Simulator 17 doesn’t have the style and charm that will attract anyone who is not already a fan of the genre or series to become one. If you are a fan, this game should provide hours of things to do on your way to becoming a filthy rich farmer. The number of options available to players is impressive and the economy and finances add a good amount of realism to the experience. But I personally found this game agonizing to play and extracted very little joy from it. For those who consider themselves more traditional gamers, this game may be a good Christmas gift to troll one of the youngsters in your family.
- Gameplay: Clunky on Console, Not Much Fun
- Graphics: Low Res, Tons of Pop-up
- Sound: Radio Gets Monotonous, Basic Sound FX
- Presentation: Clunky Menus, Not Very Charming
- Realistic Farming Experience
- Tons of Options
- Realistic Farming Experience
- Boring and Tedious
- Difficult to Get Into
A fiction writer and journalist living in Los Angeles who enjoys all things gaming and film.