Wednesday, 27 May 2015

Raucous Reviews: Farming Simulator 15


Image from za.ign.com
Farming Simulator, ever since it's inception in 2008, has been the butt of many jokes; the floodgate that opened the onslaught of crappy German simulators. With a new start on new consoles, will the series that isn't taken seriously finally get respect?

If you're not satisfied with repetitive wheat, canola, and other plant farming, then probably not.


Before we get to that, let's start with the good points: a load of tutorial missions have finally been added, which really helps considering the game throws you in at the deep end, trusting that you're a former farmer who decided that digital farming was the next big thing but didn't want to farm gold in World of Warcraft. There are plenty of them, and they're not lazily made either, each carefully guiding you through the task. Sadly, they last a long time, and considering there are over 10 of them, it seems that looking at the controls is the more efficient way.

And that leads onto another positive: the UI and HUD. The UI is much more pleasing to look at, with block colours and modern tiles making everything easy to read. There's plenty of detail to look at, though the symbols can be quite confusing (Especially if you don't know what canola looks like. Seriously, damn canola). For every vehicle and task, the HUD offers all of the controls that are relevant, which is really helpful and a big plus point, especially because of the huge amount of controls and vehicles.
That's the biggest problem in FS15: if you go into the shop, you'll see tons of categories (And all of your favourite tractor brands!) and it's pretty overwhelming: you'll see tons of products that you've never even heard of. These products aren't properly explained (It took me half an hour to find out that you had to buy a front loader in order to attach a forklift-thingie. You can tell I'm not good at farming vocab) and are given vague descriptions, which is a really big turn-off. You can tell right now that it'll take a lot of patience to actually enjoy the game, patience that not many will have)

It'll also take a lot of patience to make money in order to buy the products, and that's hugely hard to come by: it's hard to know what to sell, who to sell to etc. and it's just another element that makes the start of your impulse-buy-started farming career. Money is best gotten from missions, but they're so vaguely worded and require more money just to buy the equipment needed to complete the missions. Not only that, but missions can only be VIEWED from the sparsely-placed mission boards, which is a stupid piece of game design that I can't imagine why was implemented. There's a couple more of those: help can only be gotten from telephone boxes etc.

The map's pretty big for a farming game and easy to navigate, but sometimes it's hard to know where all of your equipment is, as the fields are placed far away from each other. You'd think that the two available maps are different, but they're basically the same. Most tractors can only do about 25 mph (And the cheapest car in the game is 60 grand, which is a helluva lot) so navigating the map and completing tasks on fields is tedious. Luckily, you can hire workers to do jobs for you, but that defeats the whole point of the game, and leaves you with nothing to do.

After a certain point, I just started messing around with the game, and the physics are a teensy bit better than last iterations: you don't flip over everytime you crash, instead you bounce off pretty much everything, from cars to fences, and the walking physics are even worse: I've floated many times, climbed vertical surfaces and gone through many buildings.

The graphics are generally nice and not horrible to look at, with tractors being shiny, but literally every non-farming-related object is low-resolution, ugly and basic. To the developer's credit, I never had any performance or framerate issues, which is better than most games this day and age.

The Verdict
Overall, it's hard to really recommend Farming Simulator 15 to anyone other than the most dedicated farming fans. It's no surprise that this is the best Farming Simulator yet, but the gameplay is too stale and repetitive; the mechanics overused and boring. I wasn't expecting a game meatier than a Belgian Blue, but I was expecting more.
Thanks to Koch Media for giving us a review copy!





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