Now I got a brand new combine harvester, and I’ll give you the key.
Sadly, that tune does NOT feature in Farming Simulator which I have been playing on PS Vita. This is essentially a port from the iOS platform game, also available on Android via the Play store.
Let’s get one thing out of the way before we start, if you are after a fast paced game to test your fast twitch muscles, the is probably the polar opposite of what you are after. Perhaps you were confused by the fact that the game title has “Simulator” in it?
Well, as it happens, I may have been as well. You see, when I was young, I used to go and stay at my Uncle’s farm. He actually DID have a combine harvester! So I thought it may bring back some childhood memories. Alas, there are no driver’s cab views as you steer you mechanical beasts in this game.
You start off with three fields, a combine harvester, a small tractor, a small trailer, small plough, small seeder, and a small supply of reaped crops in your stores. This gives you the basics to successfully sow seeds and reap crops, which you then sell for in-game cash at one of the four outlets dotted around the town. This cash is then used to buy fuel for your vehicles, more seeds to plant, and then purchase upgrades to your equipment.
If you wanted to, you could just keep using your starter stock supply items to cycle between ploughing the fields, planting the crops, then waiting for them to grow before harvesting. This approach really serves you no benefit, as you will find yourself waiting with little to do while you watch the crop grow. The first thing to do is to buy a water sprayer. This cheap purchase will double your yield without sacrificing anything.
You will see from the in-game marketplace that there are larger ploughs and seeders. These are desirable to achieving greater productivity, but you will not be able to use them until you have invested in a more powerful tractor. Consequently this will become your first essential purchase. It can pull any of your existing equipment, with the added advantage of doing the job faster. From there you can slowly upgrade the other items in your own time and preference.
The game controls are pretty simple. The touch screen interface from iOS and Android can be used easily, as can the controller buttons. The rear touchpad activates the horn for the vehicles. Other than making the townsfolk pull over to give way to you, this serves no purpose. More to the point, it quickly irritates you by sounding off every time you readjust your hand position. Thankfully they allow you a setting which limits how much of the touchpad activates it.
So yes, controls are essentially drive, steer, and reverse. I know, revolutionary right? Well there is also a button to activate or deactivate your machinery. For the combine this means raising and lowering the blades. With them raised you will get an increase in speed. With the tractor it will spread seeds, start watering, or begin ploughing, again changing your speed.
That is pretty much the basics right there. As you go about your daily business you will get requests from the town’s inhabitants to help find various items (stolen fruit, missing deliveries etc) for which if you choose to accept and meet the time requirements, you will get a cash reward. With more money you can buy more fields to harvest, which will bring in more money.
As you approach the later stages though, you may have expanded further than you can realistically manage. Crops might go bad before you manage to harvest them, because you had to drive halfway across the town. Once you reach a small empire of this size it is wise to purchase more combines to leave around the map. You can also pay staff to work the fields for you, but this costs you some hard-earned money.
Every few days a specific crop will go in to high demand at a particular buyer. When this happens it is usually a good idea to get your fastest tractor to drive your stockpile over there and sell it all for an increased payout, but never at the cost of sacrificing your other crops.
I found it frustrating when this high demand price was announced. You would be working your fields and the screen is interrupted by the announcement, which becomes annoying after a while, especially when the game also prompts you to save periodically in the same manor.
I don’t recall being prompted to buy in game currency with real world cash, but it is obvious that the game is built around this time saving “pay to win” approach that mobile games have a tendency to adopt. It was even suggested to me that I was playing “Farmville with better graphics”. Whilst I don’t think that is a fair comparison, I can see the point of the comment.
So is this the game for you? I would imagine if you have read this far you should have a pretty decent idea of whether or not you want to invest. I found it to be a big time sink. It did totally absorb me, and I found the hours flying by as I went about my business. It is ideal for passing the time if you have a podcast or new album that you want to listen to, but you probably won’t choose to play this over something much more story driven. Oh, did I mention the file size? It is only 75mb. That means you can fit it on almost any memory card for Vita.
- Easy to sink hours in to. Once you have a few fields up and running you will always have a task waiting for you to complete.
- Simple mechanics make good use of the touch interface (should you choose to use it).
- Villager requests help offer a variation to your “daily routine”.
- Handy option to reduce active area on rear touch pad.
- Easy to pick up and play.
- Poor planning with farm expansion could lead to crops getting ruined as you drive to across the map.
- The rear touch pad horn may frustrate.
- Save prompt, Latest demand price list, and villager requests become distracting as they completely obscure your screen (as seen above).
- No ultimate goal gives no sense of achievement. This means monotony will likely sink in sooner or later.
Overall: 3 out of 5
We were provided with a download code for reviewing purposes. Farming Simulator is available to download from the PlayStation Store for £6.46.