13 Years ago I was just 15 years old, but even with that in mind my new fond obsession with Harvest Moon: Back to Nature on the PlayStation 1 was inexcusable. I mean, really, I should have been outside drinking with the other teenagers. Running from the local police and generally causing trouble – you know, the kind of things you do growing up in a small town. Well eventually I did do all those things, but not until my Farming obsession was fully engaged. Fast forward to present day and I am a grown up, or at least pretend to be, so need a grown up equivalent of my past farming addiction and this is where the unlikely YouTube sensation, Faming Simulator 2013 steps in. Released originally for PC, FS has become famous in its own right have commands a massive fan base. Keen to capitalise on its popularity, the team behind FS has ported the game to consoles, introducing new controls, vehicles, tools and a sizable second area to explore. Unfortunately for us console players, while it does have a sort of rural charm, FS is too repetitive and rough-around-the-edges to recommend.
If you haven’t played FS for PC, which is the boat I was in, then getting to grips with the game can be a little tedious. There is an optional tutorial when starting a new game, but it only covers the very billy basics from tending a field to selling 1 variety of crops. The rest is completely down to you to discover which in some instances is infuriatingly frustrating and comes at a loss in terms of making money down on the farm. When you do start you are handed a couple of tractors, a few fields and a modest amount of capital to see you through your first 2-3 harvests.
As you wander aimlessly around the farm (there isn’t much else to do whilst your crops grow) you’ll find some hints sparsely dotted around. These provide some tips on different aspects of a farmer’s life from dusk till dawn. They are few and far between unfortunately and the path to making money and upgrading your farm is a slow one filled with experimentation. All that said, there are some interesting ways to make money in addition to just the farming and these are discovered naturally as you wander around the farms and visit the local town. You have options to purchase livestock which can provide a steady income or if you decide to invest in additional machinery like lawnmowers and palette trucks you could perform odd jobs around town as the residents require.
The management side of FS is definitely where the game excels with players forced to make decisions that really matter, especially during the early stages of the game when money is tight. It’s the practical side of things where Farming Simulator falls down, and falls down badly. There’s simply no getting away from the fact that the farming gameplay is slow and tedious. Fields take what seems like an eternity to prep, plant and harvest, which may mirror real life and tick the right boxes for simulation fans, but will bore the pants off everybody else. That said, there is something strangely satisfying about neatly and efficiently sowing seeds and harvesting fields, but the means simply don’t justify the ends.
Twice I lost interest and had to restart the game – both during my first harvest. When 90% of the game revolves around this growing crops business, it doesn’t bode well that I got bored and switched it off.
Graphically Farming Simulator is incredibly poor. The game is plagued by scrappy visuals, poor draw distances, choppy textures and scenery which just doesn’t load. The physics in the game are just as bad. I was attempting to deliver a harvest of corn to town when a car pulled out on me and my tractor (doing no more than 20 MPH) hit the car in front and proceeded to fly into the air and land about 500 meters from where I originally started. On more than one occasion did I get stuck in-between another vehicle and a wall, curb or building. Poor AI and bad physics meant after 10 minutes of trying to get free I had to restart.
Farming Simulator 2013 is unintentionally entertaining at times, providing retrospective moments of amusement with its dodgy physics and tedious activities. But while it may capture the long, gruelling process of maintaining a farm, it doesn’t do enough to maintain your attention. It’s a poor port of an extremely popular and ultimately much better PC title.
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