Farming Simulator 15 Review: I’ve Got a Brand New Combine Harvester!

Occasionally I like to sign up to review games that take me out of my comfort zone a little, and I find that sometimes it’s fun to just try something different to what I would normally play. I won’t lie to you, I generally have little patience for simulators and Realism scares me. But although I haven’t played any previous entries in the Farm Simulator series, I do know what it’s like to live on a farm. In fact I grew up on a farm and I have to say it’s a bit shit. I’m not talking about the manure either. Ok maybe as a kid all of the fun parts of farming were barred to me. I got to shovel shit and collect eggs but was never permitted to drive a tractor and scrumpy was for grownups.

So, maybe as some kind of insane virtual fuck you to my parents being responsible, I decided to review Farm Simulator 15. In hopes that it would allow me to do all the things around the farm I dreamed about as a child.So after several pints of Old Rosie and putting on the appropriate attire: check shirt, welly boots,wax jacket and obligatory john deer hat. I was ready to take on the world of farming.

Unlike Farmville and Harvest Moon,Farming Simulator 15 does not present an idealised version of the profession. There’s no comely maidens to marry and you can’t just plant a field of sunflowers or chillies and expect your mates to lend you some manure.

Farming is hard work, and more over running a successful farm requires the same smarts as it does to run any kind of successful business. So of course the best way to play the game is as a drunken lunatic that spends his time attempting destroy the hen house with a combine harvester and is generally a danger to himself and those around him. Or it is. For about five minutes, then something odd happened. I got into it…

Starting off with a small plot of land on a pretty big map.The game starts by teaching you about the basics of cultivating your land and harvesting your crops. Eventually the game gets in to nice gentle rhythm that has you plough your field, sow some seeds, go and watch an old Jethro DVD or some Worzel Gummidge while your crops grow. Before returning to the game later to harvest your yield, making sure to use the Spotify app to play the Wurzels Brand New Key as you use your brand new combine harvester to collect your crops, put them in the tipper and take them to the drop off point. Then take the money from your successful harvest reinvest it in your farm by buying some better machinery (if you can afford it), livestock and other supplies then start the whole process off again.

FarmingSimulator2015ConsoleTrailerInitially you’ll feel a vague sense of satisfaction for a job well done. However, after you’ve completed the same harvest for what feels like the millionth time,because you never quite make enough money to be able to successfully improve your farmers lot in life, a vague sense of drudgery kicks in.New machinery is expensive and there’s very little wiggle room for experimentation. More over outside of the opening tutorial the game leaves you completely to your own devices. There is timber to harvest, eggs to collect and animals to raise.You can hire farm hands to help lighten the load but everything costs money. With nothing telling you how much of an investment most ancillary activities actually are,raising cattle for example requires a lot of expensive specialist equipment, it only takes a few financial missteps before you’re filing for bankruptcy.

I don’t think it was intentional but op swiftly turns into a commentary on the difficulties and pressures associated with being a farmer in 2015. The effort to profit ratio for harvesting crops and actually being a farmer is abysmal. And you’re generally left wondering what the hell you can do to actually make some money with the land you have. For all the time and effort it takes to perform a successful harvest it becomes clear that if you actually want to make bank you’re better off performing odd jobs around the farm. You can chop down trees and collect the logs or transporting packages. However the vehicles used in both activities cost an exorbitant amount of money, the ability to even perform these tasks is fenced off untill you can afford it.

Alternatively, you can always buy a lawn mower and cut grass. Which is a completely thankless task to say the least. However, it also pays about as well as harvesting crops to the point that in the early stages you may as well be playing Lawn Mowing Simulator 2015.

2831897-farming Eventually, so long as you haven’t blown all your money on expensive chainsaw blades and other fripperies your smallholding will begin to grow and expand into a modern farm. Complete with better machinery, greenhouses for more advanced crops and solar panels to help with the power costs. That odd sense of satisfaction returns and you begin to feel proud of your digital accomplishments.

You can also invite other players to help run your farm usually by helping you to plough your fields and harvest your crops. Though you can’t earn any extra funds for ploughing other peoples fields, it’s still nice to have someone to talk to and a rather pleasant experience.It’s a shame that there’s no local multiplayer as in my mind there would certainly be an appeal to creating a family run farm of sorts.

On the whole though I can say I had a pleasant time playing Farming Simulator 15, It’s not without its flaws and it’s certainly not for everyone. The complete lack of tutorials for most of the games higher functions for example, had me running to the internet pretty quickly (here’s a good Wiki if you’re interested), but is still an improvement on other simulators which come with no tutorials at all. So at least its a step in the right direction. On console at least the game’s slower more meticulous pace is bound to put off some players that don’t have the patience for it. But put in the effort and Farming Simulator 15 will reward your hard work with the satisfaction of a virtual job well done. It might not be the good life some were expecting (I HATE THE GOODLIFE!) but you won’t find anything else like it on the PS4.