Games are a great source of entertainment, giving us the opportunity to slip into a magical world where we can swordfight, eat fireballs, or even sprout fairy wings. But they can also teach us a thing or two about life. Hard core simulation games, for instance let you don the role of a pilot, a train driver, a football manager, and in the case of Farming Simulator 2014, even a farmer. It may certainly be a change of pace from the colorful and fun games that you may otherwise play, but if you have a thing for realistic role playing games, they don’t get any better than simulations. Farming Simulator 14 from Giants Software is one such game that made its name on the console platform, and its latest Android iteration brings more to the table for fans of the genre. Is that enough to make the game a winner?
A Tractor or Two Don’t Make a Farmer of You
In Farming Simulator 14 you step into the role of an everyday farmer, although in your case, one without an agricultural degree or any previous farming experience. You see a loads of fields, some equipment (a tractor, harvester, cultivator, and trailer) lying around and an old farmer giving you some basic instructions. Then you’re on your own. Maybe you’re smart enough to put two and two together, realize that that big menacing red machine is a harvester, start it up and get harvesting. But you’re definitely stumped when your harvester reaches 100% capacity. Nowhere do you see hints telling you that you need to switch to your tractor, carefully reverse the vehicle, attach it to the trailer and then navigate it close to the harvester to transport the produce onto it. And in those first few moments of playing the game you realize something. This game is not for everyone. I guess somebody failed to tell the development team that there may be simple hands like me who don’t know a cultivator from a sowing machine; a fertilizer spreader from a manure spreader and so on and so forth.
Even if you’re a first time SIM farmer, you will be able to fiddle around and figure how the controls work. Drag the vertical speed slider to accelerate, brake to drive backwards; tilt the device to steer the vehicles; drag the screen from left to right to rotate the camera and drag up or down the screen to zoom in and out. But its simply ridiculous to figure out what the different buildings on the map are supposed to represent or what the different vehicles are intended for. The game’s tutorial, which is rather a web page with lots of descriptions doesn’t cut it leaving you with a difficult and completely un-enjoyable learning process.
The Good Stuff
If you can look past the absence of a good guide and the fact that every task is a long and tedious process, you’ll enjoy what the game has to offer. There are plenty of things to do. Seeds, fertilizers and fuel need to be bought, grains need to be moved to selling points, chaff must be taken to the biogas plant for converting to fuel, and the farm animals need to be fed. That means the grass must be mowed and dried to make hay. Occasionally you will receive missions such as finding missing water bottles, an opportunity to earn plenty of coins, but most tasks are time bound. You will also earn achievements and titles such as Harvest King, if you’ve worked really hard and spent plenty of time on the game. Money earned can be used to unlock more awesome machines, which in turn will help you buy more fields and cultivate some more so that that you can become more rich.
Not the Life for Me
It is difficult to understand what the game ultimately aims to achieve. If its offering fun and entertainment to players while learning the basics of farming, it fails miserably. If its all about learning to run a tough business, managing resources efficiently, investing wisely and reaping profits, Farming SIM 14 certainly teaches that in a frightfully long tedious and heinously painful way.
The game’s controls, music or graphics are not standout and don’t do anything to lift the game from its tiresomeness. I found it a lot harder to handle the machinery with the default tilt controls and gyroscope, but had a better grip on the machines when I decided to go manual. The music was mostly outdone by the incessant noise of the tractors, which had to be turned off eventually. The night and day concept was not to my liking either. It is bad enough to have to tend your farm tediously through the day, it gets worse when you have to do it at night.
This farming SIM franchise has done particularly well on consoles but I find it extremely hard to understand why anyone would want to play this game for any length of time. Most of your precious time is spent figuring out how things work, only to end up endlessly meandering from one point to another. Farming SIM 14 simply lacks the excitement, thrill, and motivation that is the heart and soul of any good game.
If you are a fan of simulation games, have plenty of time and patience, and don’t mind paying a premium price and more (to unlock equipment), Farming SIM 14 may be right up your alley. If its farming entertainment you want, go get yourself a Hay Day or Pocket Harvest.