Growing up on the prairies, farming was a way of life for many people that I knew. I would often spend time over at friends, and help with assorted chores on their farms. Feeding animals, milking cows, chucking hay bales, it was all in a day’s work for the fine folk that so often literally brought home the bacon. I have a great deal of respect for farmers, and so I was ready to take a dive into Farming Simulator 18, the latest iteration of the popular Farming Simulator series, to see what of actual farm life translates into these popular gaming sims.
Farming Simulator 18 is the newest release from GIANTS Software and publisher Focus Home Interactive. Unlike last year’s release, there is no home console version of the game, this year the focus is on portability and bringing your farm with you wherever you go. The game is available on iOS, Google Play, and for the PlayStation Vita and the 3DS. It has been a while since the series has had an updated version for on-the-go play, so busy folk that want to take their farming with them now have a solid version to do just that.
The game is set in an idyllic town in the southern states. Picturesque backdrops of red rock canyons, tankers floating out in the ocean, and old brick buildings fill the county in which you reside. The game has a fairly vibrant color palette, however, I did find the county to feel fairly empty. It’s a nice area to work and drive around in, but you rarely see more than one vehicle on the roads at any given time. Sure it isn’t necessary, but it just makes the world seem a little flat.
However, Farming Simulator 18 is definitely not about how busy the roads are, but what you can do with your properties and there is a decent amount of work to be done on the farm. The game starts you out with a few fields to tend, a couple of tractors and a harvester. You are slowly taught the basics of cultivating, seeding fields, harvesting crops and then selling or storing your grains, vegetables, etc. Once you get the hang of working your crops, you can start to take the money that you make to buy up some more fields, and expand your farming empire.
One pretty interesting feature is the pricing index, that you can bring up to check and see what the going rates are for your products is. This allows you to try and maximize the return that you get on your crops or animals, and get the most bang for your buck. Additionally, you will be alerted by the friendly in-game guide on occasion about a buyer that will pay extra for wheat or canola for example, and then you have to get over within a certain time limit for a bigger payout. It was nice when it happened, and helped me to keep an eye on what I had and what I could make some good money on.
The in-game guide, whom I generally just referred to as Willie Nelson, did a good job early game in teaching what is needed to understand the basics of the game. However, I did find that there were a few things that were a little vague, or not explained well enough initially. For example, I decided that after growing a bunch of wheat that I would try and grow some corn. The corn grew perfectly, but when I went to harvest, I was told that I did not have the right gear to do so. I eventually decided to check in the shop and looked around and found in the headers, the attachment that lets harvesters gather corn. Then it became a mad scramble to go and pick up the header, bring it back, and then harvest my corn before it went bad. For players that are old hands at the series, i’m sure it is no big deal, but there had been no instructions or hints as to what I needed to do, and this happened a few other times in the game.
The more I played Farming Simulator 18, the more I got into the groove of it and was interested to see what my crops would yield, what I could sell for, as well as breeding and raising various animals. However, this was the aspect that I probably spent the least amount of time with. I was just always focused on setting up crops and driving tractors and didn’t bother with animals that much. But they are there and do add an extra bit of strategy to the game, plus they provide manure, so there is that at least.
The biggest drawbacks, for me anyways, were the camera and the music. The camera, in general, does a decent job of showing what you need to see, and it can be zoomed out a decent distance. However, I found that when close to tall rock formations, or by buildings, my vision was obstructed and it was tough to see my vehicles. It would have been nice to have the rocks or buildings go transparent, which would have been appreciated when trying to line up your tractor when you are doing runs on your fields. The music was something that I really did not appreciate after hearing the same three tracks for the hundredth time. I don’t expect licensed music in every game that I play, but hearing the same few tracks over and over again, well I just turned up the FX of the game so the tractors blared over the music.
Farming Simulator 18 is a good little sim title, that will please fans of the series, especially those that are looking for an on the go version. New players may find interest in the game, however, it does take some time to really get going which may deter some. While there are some flaws to the game, such as a repetitive soundtrack and some camera and visual issues, it is a solid title for farming fans and should be added to your library, especially if you want a portable farming sim.
A Playstation Vita Review Copy of Farming Simulator 18 was provided by Focus Home Interactive for the Purpose of this Review