There’s pretty much a game for everyone. From simulating railroads and buses to dating pigeons. For those of with a green thumb and a lack of imagination, there’s Farming Simulator 2017.
For those of you who have played games with farming aspects, such as Harvest Moon or even Minecraft, the Farming Simulator series is a whole lot different. In fact, it’s an incredibly deep simulation tool with some odd (read:bland) design choices. If you’re not willing to sink hours of your life selling freshly harvested wheat to bakeries, then this may not be for you.
The game doesn’t have any story to speak of and not many game modes either, though you can create a character for yourself.
You’re given the choice of either going through the tutorial or playing one of two maps to start your agricultural empire. It’s not much, but the hours you put into it may just make up for the lack of variety.
The tutorial is an absolute must for anyone new to the series, though it will still leave you scratching your head once it’s done. Be prepared to not only learn the ins and outs of simulated farming, but also try to find a wall with paint drying for a far more fulfilling experience. Seriously, it’s boring and incredibly tedious, even bordering on condescending.
Afterwards, you may be ready to try out the full game. Upon selecting a map you’ll be plonked onto your own small farm with a house, some machines, a field of wheat (or wasted dreams?) and two barren fields. It’s now your task to make your farm profitable and become the virtual farmer you’ve always dreamed of.
Well, it’s not that easy.
There’s a lot that goes into Farming Simulator 2017, from weather effects to the seasons, and the price of crops as well. There’s a multitude of information you will need to juggle in order to make your little piece of land a success. Not to mention the exceptionally high prices of farming equipment, but this is where farming enthusiasts will love the game.
At times, Farming Simulator 2017 feels more like a demo for all of the machinery and vehicles you can use. A lot of detail has been put into the exceptional amount of things that can be utilised, from tractors to hay balers to seed planters. You’re going to need to know how to use all of these, which are the right ones to use, and if you can afford to purchase or rent the appropriate piece of equipment. And yes, you can farm animals in the game.
And then we come to the farming. You’re going to be doing most of this in real time. Sure, you can hire random workers to operate the heavy machinery while you sit on your porch, sipping lemonade and pretending you’re not paying them under the table, or you can do the work yourself. If you’re not a fan of this type of game then you’re going to get bored very quickly. One challenge had me harvesting a field of crops with a time limit of 30 minutes, which I thought was a bit too long. I managed to finish the field in 22 minutes — the same amount of time I could have been watching an episode of Rick and Morty.
Speaking of challenges, you’ll be performing all manner of farming tasks for your neighbours in the area. The game incorporates a weird system for purchasing land, which utilises theses odd-jobs. The more odd challenges you do, the cheaper land will become to purchase. Yeah, I wish that were true in real life.
The game does include a modding system, which supplies players with extra equipment, items to use, and a whole range of goodies. It’s surprising that a game like this included the feature, but it is welcome.
The game engine used for Farming Simulator 17 doesn’t seem to fully account for the weight and physics of farming equipment. All too often it was easy to flip over a vehicle when driving above a few kilometres per hour, or turn a tractor on its head with the slightest of wrong movements.
I know this isn’t Grand Theft Auto, but having your vehicle involved in a head-on collision and sustain no damage is a little off. When driving into town you’ll feel just how floaty this particular vehicle is.
On a positive note, the developers have included some fun controls for the game. For example, you’ll have to manually attach trailers and equipment to the back of trucks, or use the thumb sticks to control the tractor arms.
As I mentioned earlier, the vehicles have an incredible amount of detail, but the rest of the world really doesn’t. If you’re planning to get the game on a PS4 or Xbox One then be prepared to play a game that seems to still be stuck in the previous generation. Everything is pretty average with nothing tha’’ll really make your eyes pop. It’s just all so bland, but at least the frame rate is stable at 30fps with almost no screen tearing.
That’s not to say there aren’t any graphical problems with the game. At one point I managed to drive through a hill and clip right through the terrain. When feeding some pigs in the tutorial, I somehow managed to force one of the swines to slowly levitate, backflip, land, and then eat food. I’m pretty sure I could have charged extra for that bacon.
While the game isn’t for me, I can appreciate what it’s trying to achieve and who it appeals to.
Release Date: 24 October 2016
Publisher: Focus Home Interactive
Platform(s): Apple Mac, PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One
Review platform: Xbox One
Launch Price (RRP): R899 (Xbox One / PlayStation 4)
Industry average score: 72/100
Verdict: If you’re a die-hard fan of farming games and don’t mind average graphics and tricky controls, then Farming Simulator 2017 is the in-depth simulator for you. For everyone else, it’s not a game you’ll enjoy.