By: Matthew Striplen
I remember the good ol’ days when me and mah grandpappy used to spend our days workin’ the family farm. Ah yes, ’twas the good ol’ days, back in twenny-fourdeen… Who am I kidding? I can barely keep my lawn alive, let alone an entire farm. Farming Simulator 14 is the newest farm sim from Giants Software; a company that apparently really likes making simulation games, since they’ve made seven different farm sims alone. Take control of your newfound profession as you manage your growing farming empire.
One of the few intuitive aspects to Farming Sim are the controls. The touchscreen functions well as a menu and map, and both are easy to navigate. Driving the various vehicles is a different story. Almost everything handles like it’s on a hockey rink, which makes tending the fields a bit frustrating. Since the vast majority of the game is spent doing field work, this issue should have been addressed, especially since the AI drivers don’t seem to struggle with this.
Graphically, Farming Sim is an unimpressive game. Everything is a little grainy, especially the crops (no pun intended). Crops, excluding grass, grow in a strange square pattern, which isn’t really how crops grow. Every other aspect functions pretty much how it would in real life, so the crop shape stands out.
The sounds are so inconspicuous that they may as well not be present at all. Quiet elevator jazz plays constantly but engine roar usually dominates. Since no other characters exist, no voice acting is present or needed.
As one might expect, the main goal of Farming Sim is, well, to farm. By far, the most difficult part of the game is the beginning. Very little instruction is given in-game, which left me staring blankly at my screen for a while. Consulting the manual is an absolute must, although even after scouring it, I was still uncertain of key aspects. Pausing to check the manual every few minutes severely hinders the game’s flow initially.
One of the coolest parts of Farming Sim is the fact that it uses real world farming equipment and tools. Lamborghini, along with many others, make their appearances well known. Product placement much?
This unfortunately leads me to the confusion I explained earlier. The player’s growing farm necessitates purchasing additional and more sophisticated machinery. Providing you have the cash, any number of tractors, harvesters, or mowers can be yours at the touch of a button. That being said, figuring out what machine performs which task is not always clear unless the player is familiar with actual farming equipment or is willing to just google it.
Each item is listed with the name of the machine, a photo and its stats. This is all well and good, providing you can tell if a Horsch Terrano 6 FM is a tedder or a windrower. I feel I can speak for the average non-farmer when I say I had never even heard of either a tedder or a windrower before this game, let alone a very specific model. By the way, the Horsch Terrano 6 FM is neither a tedder nor a windrower. So, yeah…
If you’re feeling overwhelmed with your workload, the player can always hire a helper. This costs a small fee, but it’s well worth it in the end. Make sure the field being worked is clear of obstructions because our lovely assistant is probably not a member of Mensa. The AI will simply wait behind any obstacle until it is manually removed. Even equipment left on the side of the field can prohibit the worker from progressing. If everything is safely stowed away, though, the AI can be a valuable asset.
One of the more random features is the ability to trade in 3DS Play Coins for in-game money. For those who don’t know, Play Coins are earned by using the 3DS as a pedometer and usually spent in other 3DS-related programs. I’ve never actually played a game with a feature like this, so that was kind of cool, except you can only trade Coins in one at a time. Believe me; if you truly want to take advantage of this feature, it’s going to take a while.
Personally, I’ve never been a huge fan of management simulations, but Farming Simulator 14 is a decently made game. The biggest changes that need to be made are the inclusion of a tutorial and an overhaul of both the machine shop and the helper AI. The lack of initial instruction is the largest strike against this game and may turn off many players. Since Farming Simulation 14 doesn’t cater to newbies, this game is best saved for hardcore simulation fans or actual farm enthusiasts.