Game Review: Farming Simulator (PS Vita)

Game Review

Farming Simulator is a simulator game available for download from the PlayStation Store for the PS Vita. Farming Simulator is a refreshing game as it is a break away from the norm of the usual genres within the gaming industry as it really is not that often that you will get any type of simulator game making its way to any platforms other than the PC.

There are various tractors, cultivators, ploughs and more besides that are available for purchase from the in-game store. All of the products that you will find for sale are all officially licensed brand names and models that you would be purchasing if you were a real farmer, which certainly adds a level of authenticity to the gameplay.

There are areas of land for sale that you can purchase at any given time that enables you to expand the area you have access to farming, which results in more revenue from the farming of your wheat, corn, canola and chaff as it provides you with more areas to be simultaneously cultivated, ploughed and farmed.

The missions expand the gameplay as they randomly pop up with a side mission that will require you to drive off in your fastest tractor or trailer to find seeds or melons for people who have been unfortunate enough to lose them or have them stolen. The main incentive to complete the missions is the cash reward that you will receive from finding the items from each of the missions; providing you with some easy money for you to invest into better tractors, trailers, accessories, resources and land to expand your farming empire.

There is a day and night cycle within the game world and despite the actual times of day and consequent shadows looking realistic; it is not followed up with any kind of genuine logic. You would not expect anyone to farm at night or at the very least you would not expect anyone to farm at night and during the day as you would anticipate that a break would be in order at some point to retain energy for the upcoming work in the following days, so as this is a simulation it is a problem that will hopefully be fixed in a potential sequel.

The map will assist you in your journey around the farm land and to various important locations. The map consists of icons that will lead the way with the icons representing numerous places of importance, such as the current locations of your vehicle, trailer and tools; selling points for your wheat, corn and canola; gas stations; necessary farming resources including seeds, water and slurry; stores that sell various tractors, trailers and accessories; and the location of your current mission goal.

The game is in serious need of a step by step instruction tutorial, especially considering it is safe to assume that the majority of people on the planet have not worked on a farm before or played a farming simulator. There is a lack of guidance in regards to how to play the game beyond a screen displaying the control configuration and the briefest of hints sporadically spread throughout the game, so this is definitely an area that could be improved upon for the potential sequel.

The controls are well mapped across all of the Vita’s control configurations. The face button controls consist of pressing X or R to accelerate; square or L to brake or reverse; O to activate or deactivate an accessory; triangle to detach a tool; changing the direction of the left analogue stick to steer the vehicle; changing the direction of the right analogue stick to control the camera angle; up, down, left or right on the d-pad to switch between vehicles; and start or select to pause the game and view the options menu.

The touch screen controls consist of tapping on the tractor icon situated on the bottom left to switch between vehicles; tapping the arrow icon to activate or deactivate an accessory; tapping the steering wheel icon to hire a driver; tapping the horn icon to honk the horn; tapping the trolley icon situated on the top left of the screen to access the store; swiping your finger across the touch screen from the arrow situated on the left centre of the screen will expand the size of the map; swiping your finger across the touch screen within the area of the map to scroll across and explore the entirety of the map with important locations marked with icons that can be tapped upon to view the available information; swiping your finger across the touch screen in any direction to adjust the camera angle; and tapping the monitor icon situated on the top right to pause the game and view the options menu. The rear touch pad controls consist of tapping your finger on the rear touch pad to honk the tractors’ horn, although do not fear honking the horn becoming a consistent accident as there is an option to reduce the scale of the rear touch pad sensitivity, so you can switch it off and use the touch screen instead if you wish to do so.

The graphics are better and more detailed than what you may expect from a farming simulator as there is lots of content within the game world, such as wheat, corn and canola crop fields; trees; your tractor and trailer; silos; gas stations; selling points to sell your wheat, corn, canola and chaff; stores; farming resources such as seeds, water and slurry; cars on the open roads; houses; and roadside and property side fences, alongside a graphically realistic day and night cycle.

The presentation of the game is solid with a great touch screen based user interface across various menus such as the options menu and all of the menus contained within the options menu, although it surprisingly does not include support for navigation via the left and right analogue sticks, directional pad, face buttons or rear touch pad. The still image in the background of the menu screens focuses upon tractors, a warehouse and silos in the foreground with trees, hills, mountains and cloud cover in the background, which provides a positive summary of the content on offer.

The audio is pretty good as it consists of rock guitar riffs which are surprisingly appropriate for a farming game, alongside the sound effects of your equipment, such as the start up and roar of the tractor engines as they sow and harvest hectares worth of crops.

The trophy list includes twenty trophies with five bronze trophies, five silver trophies, nine gold trophies and one platinum trophy. You may not necessarily find the trophies easy due to the endurance required to earn some of them. Three of the easier trophies include the Trucker bronze trophy for covering ten kilometres with vehicles; the A Helping Hand bronze trophy for recovering goods for five townspeople during the missions that will randomly occur; and the Noise Disturbance secret gold trophy for honking the horn more than 100 times, which must be the quickest and easiest gold trophy in the history of gaming as you can just really quickly tap the rear touch pad as fast as you can over 100 times to get the trophy in two minutes or less. The trophies are mostly presented in a tiered system in which there will be a bronze trophy for hitting a particular figure of progression, a silver trophy for progressing ten times above that of the bronze trophy and a gold trophy for progressing ten times above that of the silver trophy, such as the Peasant bronze trophy for harvesting more than one hectare; the Fruits of Your Labour silver trophy for harvesting more than ten hectares; and the Harvest King gold trophy for harvesting more than 100 hectares, alongside four more examples that demonstrate the recurring pattern through the majority of the trophy list.

The hardest trophies are the third from each of the five sets of tiered trophies, such as the Pots of Gold gold trophy for your wealth exceeding ten million in your bank account; the Very Frequent Driver gold trophy for having covered more than 1,000 kilometres with vehicles; the Harvest King gold trophy for harvesting more than 100 hectares; the Mass Production gold trophy for sowing more than 100 hectares; and the Selfless Saviour gold trophy for having helped twenty townspeople. I would estimate depending upon your understanding of farming or learning the mechanics of the game; your skill for taking care of your crops and a good trophy guide to provide some helpful tips that it would take around 37 hours to platinum the trophy list or as high as sixty hours if you get stuck without a good trophy guide.

There are three difficulty levels including beginner, normal and expert with the biggest difference between the three difficulty levels being the reduced amount of financial returns from your crops and missions on the expert difficulty level in comparison to the beginner difficulty level. The game has a steep learning curve as you will not be familiar with what you have to do at the start and you will have to learn all of the farming procedures as you progress with only the help of a control configuration screen via the quick help option; various brief hints that are scattered throughout the game via the hints menu; a map with icons represented by a key to aid navigation around the open world; and brief instructions on page 14 of the digital instructions manual. The lack of detail and clear instructions will definitely have you resorting to walkthrough guides on the internet, although they do exist and provide more than enough suitably adequate information for it to not be a problem.

There is no online multiplayer component or online leaderboards, which is a bit disappointing as it removes any potential competitive edge from the gameplay. I could imagine there being an online challenge system in which you and your online opponent are attempting to sow and harvest a set of crops first; another mode could have saw the two players attempting to complete a set of missions for the townspeople quicker than the other player; and to perhaps even have a betting system in which you could bet some of your earnings on completing the tasks first in order to be rewarded with a larger stake of finances. The online leaderboards could have had leaderboards for the best times for cultivating and harvesting each type of crop; each field; and another for the highest earning farmers.

The replayability of Farming Simulator is provided from a perspective that if you are a console gamer, then you are unlikely to have played any simulator based games beforehand, which makes Farming Simulator a brand new and fresh experience. There is a good portion of content with licensed tractors and accessories; a wide open stretch of land with lots of land to purchase and cultivate to expand your available farm land for harvesting; and side missions to complement the overall package.

Overall, Farming Simulator is a PC gaming experience in the palm of your hand that is the first of its kind on the Vita and therefore justifies the £6.49 price point. If you are a fan of simulator based games, if you like the countryside or if you have ever wondered what it would be like to be a farmer, then Farming Simulator is definitely perfect for you. For the people who do not fit within those categories; this is surprisingly a fun, interesting and thought provoking game as you are effectively managing your own farming business and that is a big reason for you to make sure you purchase Farming Simulator with easily over 50 hours worth of gameplay, so hurry along and buy yourself a Combine Harvester today!

Jason Bonnar

At A Glance

  • Title: Farming Simulator
  • Publisher: Giants Software
  • System: PS Vita
  • Format: PSN Download
  • Cross Buy: No
  • Cross Play: No
  • Online Multiplayer: No
  • Memory Card Space Needed: 65Mb
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