This review is an unedited version of the review written by Zombie Dredd and published in the Tech Magazine: Issue 67 March 2019.
When Atari’s Pong was released, one has to wonder if the game developers had any idea what game types the future would bring. I would be willing to bet that farming games were not even joked about. But here we sit over 40 years on and farming simulators are not even the strangest game types readily available. It’s also not one that I ever expected to be reviewing.
However, the Farming Simulator series is now around ten years old and has ensured it has entrenched itself with its fan base. With many potential virtual farmers still to be unearthed, Farming Simulator 19 makes every effort to nurture further growth.
As the game name suggests, this is a title that simulates owning and running a farm. And to be clear, that means running a farm successfully. Having a passing interest in farming or agriculture may make the game more rewarding, but it is not essential. If anything, playing the game may encourage you to become more environmentally aware. Maybe. It certainly made me wonder why I don’t go outside much. Possibly because of the smell…
For the 2018 iteration the series has had a graphics engine overhaul, and comes jampacked to the top of the silos with content. The game features American and European environments which offer a variety of regional crops, forestry and machinery. Livestock also features and you can take your horse for a ride around the area for the first time in the series.
The game has a pretty steep learning curve. After finishing the tutorials brimming with some confidence, actually running the farm on your own can become a little overwhelming. Thankfully, you can hire ‘hands’ to tend to the fields, but you will still need to have a basic grasp of what needs doing in what order to get them started. Failing to know your harvesting from your cultivating could see your crops fail. Failed crops mean failed income. At that point, trying to find money for upgrades and help is a bit like battling weeds… also known as the bank manager.
Graphically, the game is actually quite impressive. Each of the drivable vehicles (of which there are many) are lovingly detailed and animated. Machinery and attachments are fully controllable via inputs, and it is extremely possible to spend time ploughing a field only to realise you hadn’t actually dropped the plough. Although, the graphics also do a convincing job of portraying changes in the landscape and you probably should have picked up on that three seconds in. All of this offers up an extremely immersive (but at times tedious) experience.
Farming Simulator 19 is a game that sets out to offer the complete farming experience and (even with my severely limited actual farming experience) the developers appear to have done just that. It’s a little bit like Sim City but only with the agricultural zone. If that all grabs you, then put on your wellingtons, flannel shirt and hit the fields today.
Available for: Xbox One, PS4 and PC
Distributed by: Apex Interactive and available at all retailers of games