Farming Simulator 15 Review
Sony PlayStation 4Also available on Microsoft Xbox 360, PC, Sony PlayStation 3 and Microsoft Xbox One
Most new games coming out on the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One tend to have a bit of razzmatazz about them, so you might be forgiven for overlooking Farming Simulator 15 as it makes the ambitious jump from PC to consoles. Unfortunately, it proves to be a very ambitious jump indeed, and one which the game doesn’t make without banging its head and breaking a few limbs on the way. As a simulator it sticks loyally to its subject matter, but it does so in the most monotonous way possible. With clumsy controls, little depth to the gameplay, and disappointing graphics and design, this is game which feels bewilderingly out of place on new consoles.
When you fire up Farming Simulator 15, the game throws you straight into the mix with career mode. You take your choice of two different farms – one in Scandinavia and one in the USA – and start building up your farm from humble origins. You begin with only a few fields and the most basic pieces of equipment, and from there you need to start earning money to purchase more – a feat achieved by sowing, harvesting, and selling your crops. From there you can expand into animal husbandry and forestry once you have purchased the necessary equipment and areas to do so.
To anyone who has already played the game on PC, this will all sound familiar. It still has all the features as it always did, including an impressive array of machinery from a variety of famous brands, but nothing new has been added to the experience. As a result, if you already own a copy on a different platform, there isn’t much of a reason to purchase it again – unless you desperately want to play it on a console.
So the real question is how it sits on those consoles, and the answer is not a flattering one for Farming Simulator 15. Firstly, the controls are more finicky than they really need to be. They’re straightforward enough when you’re just walking around, but when driving vehicles – which is, after all, the bulk of the gameplay – you have to press the shoulder buttons to access a lot of the commands you need, even when all the buttons haven’t already been assigned. You get used to it eventually and it’s far from the worst control scheme in the world, but it’s far from intuitive and actually just feels a bit weird.
More critically, the game doesn’t look like it belongs on a console as powerful as the PlayStation 4 or Xbox One. Nothing looks overtly ridiculous, but given the power and capabilities of these consoles, things certainly aren’t pretty. Textures look fine from afar but get too close and you’ll see that they aren’t up to scratch. Similarly, crops and other plants are acceptable from a distance but on closer inspection look a lot like cardboard cut-outs – and thus unlikely to net you much of a profit once harvested. All in all, Farming Simulator 15 just isn’t an impressive looking game in any way, shape, or form.
This fact isn’t helped by the boring design of the farms on offer, neither of which are at all interesting. One of the main draws of this simulator is surely the charms of rural life, but this is a game which renders those charms non-existent. The environments are terrifically dull and, even worse, lifeless. There are other people wandering around but they do nothing but wander around; they never seem to see you and you can actually walk right through them. Try crashing into a car and your tractor will simply stop with a slight bump, no damage done. There’s a house that seems to be yours, but you can’t get inside it and there’s no-one else there.
In Farming Simulator 15, you seem condemned to a lonely purgatory of driving tractors back and forth, a mere ghost to the other lost souls who walk the landscape. You’ll plough, sow, fertilise and harvest – but that is your life for all eternity. That, ultimately, is what makes this game seem so out of place as a console experience: there is simply no depth to it. Of course, as already stated, the gameplay is unchanged from PC – but on a console, where you’d expect to have more of a game than simulation experience, it really is far too shallow.
Fundamentally, as a simulator, the game works just fine. If you want to focus purely on farming, no matter how monotonous it is – and repeatedly driving up and down a field will be extremely monotonous for most people – then you’ll be pleased with your purchase. If you’re expecting anything more, however, you should also expect to be disappointed. Even the animal husbandry and forestry elements which add variety to the gameplay are unavailable for quite a long time, since you need to earn enough money to expand into these businesses. Resultantly, no matter how good a simulation it is, there isn’t enough depth to it to keep most people engaged.
Ultimately, the biggest problem with Farming Simulator 15 is that it’s just a bit boring. In an age where games are becoming increasingly complex experiences, here is one in which the core gameplay sees you driving up and down a field over and over again – and without even any ambient music to lighten the mood, it should be added. With clumsy controls, underwhelming graphics, and frankly catatonic pacing, it’s as out of place on consoles as it possibly could be. If you’re a massive fan of tractors and driving through fields, and you want the most stripped down but technically accurate farming simulation you can imagine, then Farming Simulator is for you. If you’re looking for some casual fun, however, you’ll be better served looking elsewhere.