Farming Simulator 17
Reviewed By Steve Polak
Farming Simulator is an unexpectedly successful series that has a legion of devoted fans. The game has been around for many years and the million or so players who have bought the current incarnation serve as a testament to the popularity and success of the series.
So, those of you who haven’t heard of the game might be forgiven for wondering what all of the fuss is about. Simply put, if you are a ‘simulation’ play fan and have even a remote interest in the sorts of systems you might need to oversee to successfully run a farm, you’ll be salivating over this latest iteration.
Oh, also if you like tractors and other similar heavy machinery you’ll be in hydraulic heaven, as there are more peculiar gizmos designed to help the farmer ply his trade than you could have ever have believed existed. Indeed there are over 250 machines at your disposal with all of the ‘big names’ in the industry well represented.
If you know names like Massey Fergusson, Valtra, New Holland, JCB and Challenger, then you will be spoilt fort choice when it comes to high powered hardware to ease your farming burden.
The game lets you build two farms. One in the USA and one in what appears to be Eastern Europe. There is a decent selection of crops at your disposal. More mainstream crops like wheat are great money spinners, but you can also grow sunflowers and soy beans if you are wanting to try something different.
On top of this you can indulge in a little logging if you want some cheap cash and there is also the opportunity to raise livestock too. Livestock like pigs and cows add an animal husbandry element to the game.
With all of this in mind there is plenty to do and at first the game might feel a little overwhelming.
Farming Simulator 17 does have a tutorial mode of sorts. The system litters the landscape with question mark icons, indicating tutorial tasks that help you get to grips with the basics.
However, the learning curve is still a steep one if you have never played Farming Simulator before. Indeed if you happen to lose track of what you are trying to do it is quite easy to get confused.
If you are frustrated this way you might be inclined to give up on the game early in the piece, but perseverance is rewarding. Abortive starts will see you revisiting a few saved games (which means you should save early and often by the way) and once you have gone over what you did wrong and tried again you will feel a sense of accomplishment.
That said, and it is often the case with this genre, if you aren’t the patient kind you will find this is a game that is hard to get into. You literally have to have the ability to keep yourself busy while you let mother nature do her magic, as your crops will take time to mature and the process is fraught with delays and minor tasks.
On the positive side of the ledger there is a lot to do, so you doin't dspend that much time literally waiting. Well unless you are lazy, that is. Indeed this time around not only can you bring your goods to market, but you can even drive the train dispatching them.
Visually Farm Sim 17 isn’t the most mind blowing game out there. It isn’t going to push recent releases like Battlefield 1 when it comes to weather effects or amazing detail. However, Farm Sim still looks decent enough and you can zoom around and re-position your viewpoint quite easily to have a close look at what you are doing. This mostly comes down to having a perv at the tractors, which are effectively the stars of the show here.
Unlike previous iterations, this time around the game does give you some decent hardware to get started, but there are some amazingly cool looking, massive powerful tractors and other farming gizmos in the show room once you start to look at upgrading and buying new toys. You can also play as a female farmer and there are even some clothing customisation options too.
Indeed the toys on offer will keep many keen to continue as there is always a better machine just around the corner, once you have sold another season’s crops.
The gameplay revolves around buying new plots of land and sowing different crops and always, always making sure you aren’t losing money. Being cash negative in this game is deadly and your farm can grind to a halt if you fall the wrong side of the balance sheet. This is quite tricky too, as there are always ongoing costs and the game ‘helpfully’ reminds you of your outgoing cash flow on the main screen every minute of play.
Now there are a few quirky issues with the way Farming Simulation 17 plays. You are not going to be treated to cutting edge physics here and at times your tractors will get caught on the smallest pole in the ground, something they could rip right through, but in the game just awkwardly get stuck on.
Also the way tractors with trailers jack knife on insane angles and then bounce about as if they weigh nothing is something that detracts from the realism of the experience.
The game is also very clearly designed as PC release first and foremost. The controls work better with a mouse and keyboard and again unless you know the game well, you will find the menu management side of play on the consoles takes a little getting used to. You can also hire workers, which is mostly a good thing.
Your employees will dutifully driver harvesters, sew seeds or even till the lands. However, we have to remind you to beware. If these dolts get impeded by so much as a twig in the path of their massive, powerful tractors, they lose the plot and stop. So you do need to keep an eye on your henchmen to ensure that their single digit IQ isn't hampering the most basic of tasks. Do this and you will still appreciate these guys, just don't expect miracles, or even basic conmpetence.
So should you buy Farming Sim 17. If you are devotee of the series chances are you already have. If not, there is something quite engrossing to be enjoyed here, but you must be the cautious type. If that is the case this is a solid example with a few rough edges presentation wise, but fathomlessly deep gameplay.
Review: Faming Simulator 17
System: PC / Xbox One / PS4
Developer: Giant Games
Publisher: 5 Star Games