Simulator games are created with the intention of emulating a real life experience to the fullest extent, and often deliver fulfilling substitutes for those experiences. However, there are certain simulation games that hit the mark a little too well, and Farming Simulator 2013 is one of them. Harnessing the spirit of a long day’s work, Farming performs its objective too accurately, and the end result is a brand new level of mundane that is anything, but satisfying.
Taking center stage in Farming is the miserably repetitive gameplay, capable of quickly wearing out even the most ardent farmers. Your gameplay experience primarily consists of getting in your appropriate tractor (or other farming vehicle), attaching the vehicle’s accessory (plow, mower, etc.), and driving around a field while planting, cultivating, or harvesting. This represents the majority of your time in the game, and that initial excitement of starting up a farm will soon succumb to the dismal reality of a simpler, simulated life as the game shows all its cards up front.
When tending to crops in your farming vehicle, the only action the player takes is the turning of the vehicle in the field, and the occasional drop-off of supplies. There is little variety to these actions, and the result is excruciating boredom when performing the necessary actions to keep your farm afloat.
As if the ridiculously slow-paced gameplay isn’t rough enough, the load times for Farming are incredibly poor. Normally, I’ll forgive long load times to an extent, so long as the gameplay is solid. In this case, the difficult load times contribute to the boredom in the worst way possible, making the game increasingly more intolerable as your play time accumulates. I recall some loading times lasting from 25 to 30 seconds, totally unacceptable in this day and age.
With such simple gameplay, the controls should be spot on, but GIANTS Software is, unfortunately, nothing, if not consistent. The controller utilization is acceptable at best. Buttons match up decently with their intended actions, but the controller ultimately feels limited to the gameplay experience. Many actions require pressing two buttons at once and this can get uncomfortable, and difficult to remember (the top left portion of the screen displays these controls, but constantly referring to this list is rather annoying).
As you would expect, the story is simple to the point of non-existence. You are a farmer and you must work tirelessly to ensure that your farm survives. This is really all that’s needed in regards to plot, as many budget simulators expect you to create your own. Considering the abhorrent staying power this game possesses, it might have been beneficial to throw in some crazy twist in there though. Players might stick around for a little while longer if crop circles started showing up and aliens terrorized your farmland. Even something as simple as a competing farm or a battle against big business would have provided a reason to care about your farm.
Visuals may also be a turn-off to the prospective player, as the overall presentation is quite bland. Crops look similar and uninteresting, grass isn’t vivid, and many locations appear lifeless. Textures also reflect the small amount of effort used to create them, with the game occasionally looking like a throwback from the previous generation. While graphics do not represent the sole winning ingredient of a simulation game, the textures and environments in Farming provide yet another reason to feel underwhelmed by the experience.
If the brutally repetitive gameplay, miserable load times, and lackluster graphics were not enough to dissuade you from Farming, the music, or lack thereof, may finish the job. The music is present only during load times, menus, or at the start screen, with nothing to listen to during the actual gameplay. While the absence of music occasionally syncs with the loneliness of farming, it ultimately hurts the experience. If there is anything I took from this game, it is the hope that all farmers have access to some heartening tunes to play during their daily chores.
The one area where Farming adequately delivers is with its sound effects. Whether it is the roar of a tractor or the crisp hum of a mower on tall grass, the sounds are the only truly satisfying elements of the game. The sound effects are reminiscent of driving by an agricultural portion of town, and that can certainly be considered an accomplishment
If you are not into farming, you likely won’t last more than a few hours playing Farming Simulator 2013 before calling it quits. The lackluster gameplay, outdated visuals, and complicated controls create a disappointing end result. The only individuals who may be able to stick around are die-hard farming enthusiasts. However, if you are a farmer, I’d suggest tending to your actual farm, enjoying the dimensions and melodies of real life, instead of spending time in this virtual purgatory.
*Farming Simulator 2013 was reviewed with a PlayStation Network download code provided by Focus Home Interactive.*