Farming Simulator 2013 Review
Move over Farmville, and make a lot of room for GIANTS Software’s newest release: Farming Simulator 2013. Tired of not reaping what you sow in the gaming world? Need a bit of a slower paced getaway where hard work pays off and nature is your solace? Forget the gimmicky bells and whistles – jump into a virtual world where you aren’t judged by how many cool totems you put on your lawn—it’s not about whether or not you bought the latest mystery gift for your yard, but how well you tend fields and nurture your livestock. This is the real deal, folks.
When you begin the game, the best place to start is the Tutorial located in the Main Menu. This will make sure you know how to properly use the various types of vehicles and attachments needed to tend the fields in the game. Once you complete the Tutorial, you’re well on your way to start your new farming adventure! If you choose to play Career mode (local solo gameplay), it will ask you to select your difficulty: Easy, Medium, or Hard. The easier the difficulty, the more money and resources you’ll receive for the same amount of work. Once you’ve selected your difficulty, you’ll be given a new farm in Hagenstedt, and this is where your journey truly begins.
Unfortunately, though the Tutorials will show you how to use the machines in the game, they lack important information and do not show you how to perform some of the more basic interactions. You’ll notice when you first start the game, there will be little hint icons around your property. As you walk around, you’ll run into your Fuel Station, Feed Station, Manure Tank, Grain Silos, and more. If you walk up to them, the hint icons will introduce you to that area of the farm, but there is very little detail given about how to actually use it. As an example, you’ll reach a chicken coup with a hint icon beside it. If you walk up to the hint icon, it’ll tell you that this is where chickens you buy go, and you can farm eggs here. Nowhere does it tell you how to do that – you’ll have to eventually figure it out for yourself. The hints and Tutorials are riddled with a severe lack of information, leaving players to either fiddle around until they find out how to perform basic tasks, or seek help from the Farming Simulator 2013 community via forums.
Starting your Career, you’ll spawn onto your property where you can explore and begin your work. You’ll be playing the game in a first-person view and a sandbox environment where you alone will determine what kind of crops you’ll grow, what animals you’ll raise, and even what equipment you’ll be using to do your work. Your equipment will start you off right, with every basic vehicle and attachment you’ll need to perform any farming task (like a Fahr M66 combine harvester, or a Kramer KL 200 tractor, a reaper, a plow, and so on). However, if you don’t like the default setup (the layout, the tools, etc.), the Main Menu has an option to download user-created maps and mods at your convenience. You can have a farm covered in snow, lining the map with wooden fences, add a hay bailing and storage section, or so many more new and exciting layouts and features that simply don’t exist in the default map!
As a strong suggestion: make yourself very familiar with your in-game PDA. You can access this PDA by pressing the P button on the keyboard at any time. While this PDA is extremely helpful in displaying an area map, weather forecast, financial budgeting and more, there is no way to toggle back and forth between the PDA screens. If you press P one too many times, you’ll have to cycle through every screen you’ve opened to get back to the screen you need. This annoyance would be easy to overlook if you didn’t need your PDA for all its important contents, such as mission indicators, finding your way around, planning what farm work you’ll do based on the weather report, or budgeting in general. These tasks will be essential to your success, and having to constantly swap all the way through the multiple screens gets very frustrating and feels clunky. Weather details are included on the PDA, because they are important in the game. If bad weather hits your farm, you’ll have to forgo tending the fields. Knowing ahead of time what the weather will be like can help you prioritize your tasks, and ensure your work doesn’t go unfinished.
Further along in the game, you can even hire AI workers to do most of the work for you – so you can focus on missions and financial budgeting if that’s more your type of game. The missions will randomly pop up on your screen as a call on your PDA from your neighbours who need your help – and will entail things like plowing someone’s field, or move equipment from one place to another. The missions are great if you have the right equipment, as you can earn a good bit of money doing them. If you decline or fail a mission, there is no in-game penalty – you simply don’t get paid the award offered. For a game that has so much detail in its equipment and resources, it would have been commonplace to see some diversity to the missions, or some sort of punishment for slacking on the job, but neither exists. They are essentially a quick cash grab for doing more monotonous work.
If you’re getting tired of the forever-alone feeling, Farming Simulator 2013 encourages community by allowing players to go online and help out on someone else’s farm. There is a Multiplayer option in the Main Menu where you can either be a host and bring your farm online, or join up on someone else’s farm to help out. You can have up to ten players on one farm and any of you can perform whatever task to help out the owner. While this may seem like a scary concept, the Host has total control over who stays and who leaves, and all money or resources earned go right to the Host themselves, even if other players did all the work. This encourages players to help each other out, and get to know the farming community as a whole – even learning new tips and tricks from other players as you help. This is a great concept as it builds a sense of teamwork where many games simply build a sense of competition.
There is no end-game in mind – you can keep building your enterprise for as long as you see fit. This leaves players with the option to come back to their games months or even years later and still have something they can jump back into. You will also see that, aside from bidding on land against neighbouring AIs, there is no form of competition in the game, be it Career or Multiplayer. This lack of competition means that on one side of the coin, the game is very leisurely as no real competition or goal exists, but on the other side it can be de-motivational by nature, which will turn off some players.
Sadly, although there are definite moments of beauty on your farmland, the rendering doesn’t allow you to see very far; anything in the distance becomes pixilated, even on a higher resolution. It’s almost as if the game has moments of great detail and quality graphics (such as the sunset, the chicken coup, or the tractors), but half of the artwork is phoned in. For instance, the grass and trees are chunky and displays at a low resolution, making the backdrops seem out of place. The game is set as if the graphics would be realistic, though the PC feels like they transported the Nintendo 3DS graphics over. There are some moments where you feel like you’re really on a farm, and others where you feel like you’re playing a new version of Minecraft. Hit and miss graphics aside, the game attempts to be as realistic as possible, which means that much like any farm, it’s super quiet. You’ll hear basic sound effects at times, such as the tractor engine as you drive it, but for the most part you’ll be listening to the sound of silence. This will drive some gamers absolutely crazy, as there exists no ambient noise to get you into the farming or exploring mood – I told you this game was the real deal! So do what a real farmer would do and get your earbuds on if you don’t enjoy the serenity of nothingness.
So far, the game is available for PC, MAC, iOS, Android, and Nintendo 3DS. For those console lovers, you’ll have a chance to own this game with the September 2013 release on the PlayStation 3 and the Xbox 360. If you have the patience and the love for agriculture, you won’t be disappointed with how involved you’ll need to be to properly live the life of a farmer in this game. Every basic task you’d perform in a real farm to tend the fields —including all the time and effort put into it—you’ll have to replicate in the game if you want to do a good job. Where most simulators focus on one basic aspect of the task at hand, GIANTS Software ensures that you will have a plethora of tasks to perform in Farming Simulator 2013. It will be interesting to see how the online PC community differs from the PSN or Xbox Live community, and players will be able to play this game for years to come, even after most AAA games have reached their denouement.
Farming Simulator 2013 receives a 3.75/5.0
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