It is widely accepted that most of the ‘simulator’ games are just plain awful. Yet there are a select minority that have somehow risen above the crap. Goat Simulator which just throws the crazy at the genre and is played as a big joke, then there is Euro Truck Simulator, which plays it seriously and is genuinely a joy to play.
The other title to stand out is Farming Simulator, so much so that it is pretty much the template on how to not only make a simulator game, but how to also make a yearly iteration. Because looking at the back of the box features, it really has grown since the original 2007 release.
I have to go for back of the box, as it isn’t a game that has ever interested me previously, but having a son who played and loved Goat Simulator and now takes notice of posters and other point of sale, meant I was getting this game, like it or not.
One thing I found very early on, is that there is a hell of a lot going on in this game. I was hoping I would just get to drive a tractor around a bit and that would be it. Well you can do that if you want, but I am a serious critic and must try to play properly.
I took tutorials on how to plough, sow, bundle up hay and so much more, including the new woodcutting machinery. I was also surprised to learn I would have to manage livestock. Not only that, I would have to balance the books and make sure my farm stayed in the black. It was going to be a full time job! Well at 5x speed anyway.
This is where you can take one of two approaches to the game. Mine, which was to try and play it seriously, earn a living and progress to make my farm a success, managing those books, being sure to get my produce to market, making a profit, re-investing, ploughing, sowing, harvesting, rinse and repeat, so I can grow yet further and give myself more work to do, or hire hands to help me.
Or…as my son did. Jump in whatever machine is laying around and go full on crazy, go anywhere, plough anything you want, cut down all the trees, try to attack a car with a chainsaw, make patterns in the crops and not give two hoots about any of the ‘boring stuff’.
It shows how well made this game is, that it will really show the different mentality between a child and an adult, but allow both to get something from the experience but in two totally different ways.
I am finding that I really do enjoy trying to run the virtual farm properly, making sure I have employees who can do certain things and make my farm more productive, whilst I am free to what I need to, so I can expand or increase profits.
It is a shame somewhat, that you are a bit restricted in what you have access to in career mode, needing you to progress to unlock the use of better equipment and vehicles, but it is only a minor problem, as personally I am enjoying the reward of being able to look at a new tractor and know it can soon be mine.
The depth that Farming Simulator 2015 has really took me by surprise, right down to being able to give individual budgets to your employees so they can make purchases of needed items themselves and really being able to micro-manage the hell out of everything.
I went from being a single worker going through the motions in my large farm, to spending less and less time actually working and delegating to my staff. Yet hard times came, when profits started to turn into losses and I needed to fire some and get back to working myself, which meant things stopped running as smoothly. I would find myself in a hole and needing to change things to start cutting those losses to get back into profit.
This is where the game does brilliantly, as you really do need to think about how certain actions can have some major consequences. I grew way too quickly and it came back to bite me on the arse, yet I was able to stem the bleeding and am currently slowly recovering.
I came to Farming Simulator 2015 with some very low expectations, but am now besotted by it. Sure it looks a bit rough around the edges visually, but I can’t deny I am really enjoying what I am playing, it won’t be for everyone, but those willing to give it a chance will find a rich and rewarding experience.