By: Matthew Striplen
Farming Simulator 15 gives us yet another peek into the wild world of crop and livestock cultivation. If your idea of a day well spent is driving slowly across an open field with just the hum of an engine to serenade you, this is your game.
The basic concept of the game is pretty much what one would expect: tending your fields, expanding your farm, earning money and buying more tractors. The only problem is that, like previous entries in the series, Farm Sim 15 lacks direction. After going through a short tutorial, it’s really up to the player to figure out what goals they want to accomplish. Certain goals are provided in the form of extra jobs, but they tend to be short term. It’s easy to feel at a loss of what to do.
As far as gameplay goes, expect to do lots and lots of slow driving. Keeping your rows straight requires a surprisingly high degree of skill. Since each field is fairly large, plowing or sowing just one can take a long time. If you’re into getting Zen and spending quality time with your tractors, you’ll find tons of enjoyment here. If you want something a little faster than meditation, then you may get frustrated.
Having previously reviewed Farming Simulator 14 for Nintendo 3DS, I was curious to see what was tweaked since last year. Farm Sim 15 gives us a staggering amount of real world vehicles to purchase, as well as an equally impressive quantity of assorted equipment. If you’re a farm geek, the various tech is sure to please, but if not, you may be left feeling “meh.” The size of the world is also expanded considerably, with more fields to buy, and each individual field being much bigger than before.
The biggest issues with this game are the controls, physics and graphics. All vehicles drive like they’re on a hockey rink, even at slow speeds. This makes the simple, but important, task of driving in a relatively straight line much more difficult than it should be. On foot, your character walks at a decent pace and can even jog to go a little faster. Turning, however, is dreadfully slow.
For being a simulator, the physics tend to be… inconsistent. For instance, driving a truck through a field of wheat produces no effect, while charging headlong into a fence or streetcar stops you dead in your tracks. Details like these, while always important, are especially so for realistic simulators.
Farm Sim 15‘s graphics may be the weakest part of the entire experience. Certain aspects, like the vehicles, show how much care went into crafting them. Just about everything else looks like something that came out closer to 10 years ago. Animals, plants and the environment sport very low resolution textures. Sometimes animals will just walk straight through you. Plus, the draw distance is extremely short, which means, you can watch your field load additional textures as your plow.
Although Farm Sim 15 strives for a somewhat open-world feel, the world ends up feeling cold and desolate. People are only seen in cars, which sporadically mosey down the roadways. The biggest culprit is definitely the shopping area. Instead of walking into a building, floating icons tell you when you can access an additional menu. Oh, and did I mention the ugly, gray complex is completely deserted? If it wasn’t marked on the map as being important, I would have ignored the facility altogether.
Once you boot up the game, players can either go straight into the action by choosing Career Mode, or take some time to learn the basics by perusing the tutorials. Unfortunately, the tutorial modes end up being nearly useless since Career mode has tutorials. This mode isn’t even useful for practice, since you won’t be able to keep any money earned this way.
Ultimately, Farming Simulator 15 feels much more like a Zen game than an actual simulator. The slow pacing and lack of direction may turn many people away, which aren’t helped by the subpar graphics, controls and physics. Unless you’re super into tractors and farming equipment, the game provides little incentive to progress. If you’re in the target audience of farm geeks, you’ll probably enjoy the wide variety of vehicles, but if not, you may want to take a pass on this one.