Farming Simulator 2015
Have you ever felt compelled to drive a harvester, or get behind the wheel of a tractor? Well, now’s your chance with Farming Simulator 2015, the latest game from Giant’s Software, which allows players to act out all of their wildest agrarian fantasies, as they take ownership of a farm and try to turn over a profit. Due to its specialist subject matter, it’s fairly safe to say the game is destined to appeal mainly to a small subset of gamers. Featuring very little high-octane action, many will fail to see the point in investing their time and money here, but for those who have an interest in the bucolic, FS 2015 facilitates a real desire to put your farming skills to the test.
So what’s different this time around compared to the game’s predecessors? Well, for one, the game uses a brand new graphics and physics engine, the effect of whcih is that the environments are lush and detailed, whilst the movement of vehicles and objects is fairly realistic. One such environment detail that is fun to observe is the waterfall in the Bjornholm map, a sight that is magnificently realized and offers a welcome distraction from the mundanity at hand, due to its picturesque nature.
FS 2015 also features new activities from previous entries in the series, including woodcutting. This joins returning activities, like raising livestock and harvesting crops, to provide some much needed variation to the gameplay. However, one of the biggest faults is that, despite the new game engine, FS 2015 lacks authentic collision mechanics, meaning that vehicles often get trapped in awkward places rather than simply smashing through fences or other obstacles. This often results in the player spending several minutes trying to dislodge themselves from the spot, which isn’t a particularly engaging gameplay experience.
The game also needlessly coddles players. There are no real consequences to driving recklessly, which means travelling can become dull and repetitive. Invisible walls protect you from falling into the water and non-playable characters can walk through you and your vehicle, breaking the illusion that you are in a living-breathing world. The constant protection that the game offers you also means there is no real reason to explore or experiment with the environment, as the game is focused on giving the player a single controlled experience.
Another negative aspect of the game is the first-person mode, which feels similarly underdeveloped. Staring around the cab of a vehicle, it’s obvious the game’s programmers did not put too much effort into the game's animation. Again, this takes away from the immersion, making the player feel as if they are taking control of a sentient vehicle à la Thomas the Tank Engine or a disembodied floating head.
It has to be acknowledged that none of the above will deter the game’s intended audience from picking up a copy, particularly when this is the most realistic farming simulator on the market. Still, the series has a long way to go before it can appeal to a broader audience and as it stands, it's just too dull to warrant any real excitement.