As a child I really wanted to be a pirate when I grew up, and to be totally honest I’m at the age where I could probably pack up my life, move abroad and uphold civilians onboard a rickety old tug boat. Of course Pirates aren’t what they appear as in movies or TV and the times of parrots, gold coins and scurvy have been replaced by AK47s, heroine and cholera. One profession that has remained the same throughout history is the humble farmer, a fancy dress option I also considered when I was growing up. I always believed it would be fun driving a tractor all day, cutting down crops and organising hoedowns, however not having any interest in hard labour convinced me not to take this up. 17 years later I received a bluray disk with the words ‘Farming Simulator 15’ printed on the front and I thought “Finally! Let’s see if I did have what it took to be Farmer Phil’, 2 weeks later I’m still sat here disappointed to not be able to host a hoedown and the grim realisation that I have to plant the seeds before I can make money; in hindsight drama and media studies were the better choice.
Farming Simulator 15 is the latest instalment of the delightfully popular series by Giants Software, and the first edition to be released on this generation of home console. For sceptical newcomers of the series, the Farming Simulator series has sold remarkably well and is widely believed to be the most played and realistic farming simulation game, which sees it back again for its 5th romp around the corn fields. Assuming the role of a lone farmer, it is your job to manage your land, update your machinery and make as much money as you can much like the real thing, however this time you haven’t got a nagging housewife and a rabid dog to put down. Expanding from the features in the 2013 edition, Farming Simulator 15 now includes forestry and machine washing opportunities, which when combined with looking after livestock you’ve got a hell of a lot to do. Featuring licensing from over 40 brands of machinery, tool and trailer, Farming Simulator 15 is the most up to date and impressive faming title to date, but is it a high flyer or does it fall like a sack of newly sourced spuds?
What makes Farming Simulator 15 so impressive is its attention to detail and how realistic it strives to be, even for someone who’s never been to anything more than a petting farm such as me. I believed driving a tractor would be similar to how you do it in GTA, just accelerate and hope for the best, but surprisingly it’s a lot more intricate than that. Upon entering my brand new tractor I’m told to attach a weight to the front to prevent it from toppling over, and then attach the plough to the back, and only once it’s been unfolded and lowered can I begin to reap my land. This level of detail in just using your machinery is why it’s highly recommended to play all 13 of the tutorials before starting a career if you’re a farming noob. The tutorials, though slowly paced and lengthy, are very helpful in telling you how to operate everything you’ll come into contact with, however what it does lack in is guidance on how painstakingly long each farming process is, I mean dayum they give you 3 huge fields to work on from the off! From sowing seeds, to feeding cattle, the tutorials are very good at step by stepping what goes into each task, so I cannot recommend tackling this first before you even considering giving it a crack straight away, even if you’re a seasoned vet, there’s no harm in a refresher course is there? Another prompt I feel the game is lacking in slightly is advice on how to use the machinery apart from how each bit works, what I mean is how to steer it properly without butchering my plants and keeping the seeds in a straight line, but then again I guess you can’t be taught farmyard etiquette.
Visually the game is rather pretty, each of the landscapes and farms on offer to you look glorious in sunshine and beautiful in night time, but just don’t zoom in on stuff. Where Farming Simulator excels in regards to its looks is the clear amount of detail and accuracy in creating the game’s machines to make them appear as like for like as they can be, in particular the latest inclusion of the MAN brand of trucks and trailers, which are as realistic as the ones whizzing down the motorway every day. Unfortunately where the turds are unearthed are the game’s smaller props, like crops that look lovely from a distance but look more like yellow eyebrows up close. In all honesty you have no need to focus so heavily on the game’s finer visual details as it looks perfectly fine in the depth that you’ll be playing in, plus there’s a bloke driving everything, you don’t get actually people appearing in vehicles all the time do you, kudos Giants!
After practising your farmyard duties in the tutorial mode it’s time to begin your career as a top tier, successful farmer. After choosing between a couple of locations you are literally dumped in the middle of an open field with the option of having a quick guide on where everything is, I strongly suggest taking this option so you become a bit more familiar with your surroundings. After a quick 10 minute tour the rest is up to, literally, the game has begun, time is ticking and you’ve got £10,000 to give you a head start, so get to it. Using your intuition and judgement, it’s now your job to tackle each of your fields and allocate them to a particular seed/crop and start making money, what’s that you’ve made a few hundred in wheat? That’s cool bro but you spent almost a grand getting it underway, best get back to it ay … and that’s the career mode. Along your journey you’ll be asked to carry out missions for your farm which normally takes the form of pulling a particular crop to sell, mowing the grass or purchasing a new piece of kit, so mix that with fighting against the elements, time and resources, you won’t be in for an easy ride. There’s no denying how impressive the game is for fans of the franchise and the genre, but I just found it too open plan and unexciting, but that’s just because it isn’t a game for someone who lacks patience; the game doesn’t flow in real time but it’s pretty dam close so you’ll literally be spending hours sowing your seeds and reaping your rewards. It didn’t take me long to realise that Farming Simulator 15 isn’t really a single player game, sure you can tackle your gargantuan farm on your own but that’s not what’s best for business and perhaps your sanity, so in this year’s edition a multiplayer option has finally become available for consoles. Inviting friends onto an online farm and working on it together is a much more worthwhile experience and one that you’ll enjoy far more than tackling it solo. Connecting with strangers is a straightforward process where vulgar adolescents shouting down the headset have been replaced by calm and encouraging direction, which makes for a refreshing play. It’s a pity I don’t have any friends that would pick up Farming Simulator 15, as its multiplayer addition is an enjoyable change of pace compared to everything else in my arsenal and without a doubt the factor that gives this game its worth.
Farming Simulator 15 in short is a fantastic game for fans of the simulating genre and the continuingly successful franchise. It may not be my cup of tea but the sheer level of detail and dedication that has been put into this game is tremendous, and with it expanding even more from its earlier entries, 2015 is even more expansive and jam packed with everything players could hope for. Visually it could be better but it’s pretty enough on the surface to turn your attention away from it and focus on more pressing matters. The game’s career mode is as long or as short as you wish to make it, but attempting it with a friend or 2 will really make the game flourish and become more of a worthwhile venture. With plenty of DLC releasing with brand new machinery, livestock and locations, Farming Simulator 15 will keep you engaged for as long as you see fit, permitted you keep up with your bills and remember to feed your cattle.
Disclaimer:All scores given within our reviews are based on the artist’s personal opinion; this should in no way impede your decision to purchase the game.