Farming Simulator PS3 Review

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The long road the gods set me upon has ended here. September 10th 2013 was the day I decided to become an Evil Farmer. I should probably take a step back to figure out the exact moment that caused this dastardly descent, but that is perhaps a story for another day. I am unsure if I am walking in the shadows of countless evil farmers that worked before me, or if I am a trailblazer in the decadent farming community.

A few days earlier…

As my farming life begins, I’m told I am in debt with the bank. My crops will be sold for pennies – and my assistants are costing me an arm and a leg to hire. Goddammit, this is hard, but I will make it work. I WILL make this work. Off to Hedenstedt!

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Hedenstedt, by the way, is my farm. There are many others like it, but this one is special. It is mine. Having not once farmed before, it is a harsh reality to be awake at 8:00AM on day one – and immediately seated in a combine harvester (who knows who gave me the key?) and tasked with harvesting some crops. I quickly learn how to start my machinery. I learn how to hook up trailers. I am told how to drive up and down in straight lines without exceeding 10MPH – which is apparently a very important part of farming!  It is all very slapdash, learn on the job teaching. I am sure health and safety would have a field day if they saw what was going on. It is now just past 9AM, and my first task is almost complete, but to be honest, I am already getting a bit fidgety.

At this point I see a car on the road and try to crush it with my tractor – but it does not react. Thinking back, this was probably my turning point.

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The game wants me to deliver my crops now – which is a long tractor journey right across town. There is a mountain in my way, but that won’t stop me. I attach my trailer to my tractor – like I was taught – and use my own guile to realize I do not need roads.  I can climb that mountain I proclaim! I drive like I have never driven before, using my tractor like a character from Skyrim trying to ascend an impossible peak. My trailer is my only companion, and I can tell he’s enjoying the ride.

I quickly reach the summit, but it was not too hard to be honest. I now quickly realized the other side is much steeper. I fall, but I quickly land, completely unscathed.  Physics do not seem to matter much in Farming Simulator. My tractor hit the ground in a thoroughly lifeless fashion, after descending vertically down what can only be describe as a cliff.  No one was hurt – no one even batted an eyelid. I have just achieved the impossible – but yet I feel empty. I am closer to getting paid for my crops, and that’s the important thing.

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This is probably a bit too inside baseball for a review, but I’ll persist. As I worked my way through Farming Simulator, I was also investing time in Diablo III.  Weirdly, as I jumped between the two, I found myself noting similarities. You don’t need me to tell you that Farming Simulator is not an action RPG, but I think it tries to evoke the same feelings as one.  You put in hours of work to make your farm better (like levelling up). Your hard work results in you been able to buy more machinery and animals (your loot). And then you push forward with those to make even more money, to then afford better machinery, which will in turn make your farm better (that sounds like grinding). Farming Simulator certainly feels a lot like grinding too me – and rarely does it feel a lot like fun.

This same grind continues for much of the game – with little to no variety. I quickly find that Farming Simulator is all about making money. Nothing else matters but the constant need to raise that on-screen number higher.  You plough a field; you set seed and harvest; crops are then sold to make money; and sometimes a slight detour is made over a mountain, then it is back to step one. This is the game in a nutshell. There is not really much more to it. The other frills are just a distraction to try and misdirect your attention away from the fact that core gameplay is so limiting. It was not long before my mind quickly drifted to finding better loot for my Lvl 43 Monk.

Later on I buy a cow. She costs me $2,000. I could never find this cow. Perhaps she is now in a better place.

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Present day…

I’ve had enough! I now declare that badgers really do deserve to die. Screw them. They look like living roads with their dumb white marks down their dumb road heads. Tesco will soon learn not to mess with me, and give me better prices or I will send more horses. If anyone dares drive too close  behind me, I will turn on my slurry tank – when it is full. And don’t even get me started with those chickens – you don’t want to know.

If you’ve read the emotional descent I experienced with Farming Simulator, you’ve already figured out it is not a game made directly to appeal to me. I knew this going in, but I still thought I would find fun, entertaining gameplay.  Going in blind, I expected to be met with a joyous sandbox to mess about in. Instead, what I found was a mostly lifeless game – that bordered on tediousness at every turn. The game is all about making more money to progress, but the grind to get it is monotonous, meaning most will lose the will to toil away on the farm long before getting access to the bigger, better machinery.

As I finish this up, I have yet to harvest a field full of crops – doing that should give me enough cash to buy a new bale trailer. Yet I don’t think I have the gumption to go any further with this one. Goodbye Hedenstedt.

4/10

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Version tested: PS3

Also available on: 360, PC

Developer: Giants Software

Publisher: Focus Home Interactive

Genre: Simulator