Farming Simulator Plows onto Next-Gen Consoles
I've been to the farm a few times. I got to review the Farming Simulator series when it made it's non-PC debut on the PS3, was able to take it in my pocket via the 3DS edition, and now we're seeing it roll on over to the newest generation of consoles.
Farming Simulator receives most of it's popularity from the combination of mundane tasks and dubstep remixes. Console editions can't get to remix level, so console purchasers must rely on their inherent desire to cultivate. With PS4 and Xbox One, at least there's the share function, where your videos can be uploaded to a PC for eventual remixing.
At it's core, Farming Simulator is much like a Madden or such. Your main goals remain the same year to year, with a fresh coat of paint to make it look prettier. There's a ton of features that followers of the "sport" will get in a heartbeat, while it flies over the head of anyone not in the know.
In this year's edition, we flow into the same tutorial we did last year, harvesting grain, dumping it into a trailer to take to the market and sell, followed by plowing and sowing, with a side step to learning how the market fluctuates so you can maximize your profits. This time it felt streamlined, where you could stop and go to the next step after a strip of land instead of forcing you to do the whole field. While it may have been in the PS3 version (I can't be sure) it is prominently noted in this one that a quick click of the d-pad will swap you to another vehicle, allowing for a quick teleport between jobs. The world is as basic as it can be, where you seem to be the only thing that matters. You can leave your vehicles wherever you please, even if it's in the middle of the road. Don't worry, it'll be there when you get back. Even at the store, you don't run into any other characters who are buying your crops; you just drop off your load and get money in the bank. It's an efficient, yet sterile, experience.
Farming Simulator revels in it's Gran Turismo level of detail when it comes to farming equipment. Only the true hardcore farmer will know the difference between each individual tractor and whether the prices are worth the upgrades. Realism favors the hardcore this time as well: more detail and more realism equals a harder time seeing which strip of your land is already tilled or seeded, so pay close attention.
Delve further into the simulation, and you'll get into the finer details of woodcutting and animal husbandry. You can hire workers to do your dirty work, but until you find enough cash to warrant this, the grunt work is all yours, unless you get into the game's multiplayer mode to hire your friends to assist you. Managing a huge farm as a solo farmer is backbreaking work, and to be honest, rather mundane compared to your average video game. As I said in my 3DS review, the game caters to the portable crowd in my opinion, where you have a reason to look away from the screen and do something else while driving across a field.
If I were to add something to the series, it would be more advanced weather and weariness in the farmer himself. Powering through a night is no big deal to the farmer, who doesn't stop to eat or drink either. Robofarmer continues to thrive regardless, and there never seems to be much of a deadline, short of a spoiled crop, which is simply re-tilled and started anew.
Final Score: 3/5