When I was a kid I lived on a farm. I ran barefoot through the thorny fields and drank milk straight from the udder. I also had an insane amount of space, also know as my playground. As much as I loved living on a farm, I would never be able to be a farmer. Farming is difficult, yo!
Farming Simulator 2013 is also difficult, but that’s because it’s not a game. Nowhere on the box (or in this case the Steam description) does it mention the word ‘game.’ So if you hear any negative comments about this marvellous piece of software it will most likely include terms like ‘worst game ever,’ but that’s simply because this was never meant to be played. It was meant to be lived!
As with any person who wants to be a farmer these days and did not inherit a farm, in Farming Simulator 2013 you start off with a small piece of land, a few farm implements and a big amount of debt at the bank. The world is now yours to take over and farm until the cows come home. In order to be a successful farmer you will need the right tools for the job, too – The job entails pretty much anything you would do on a real farm.
First up you will need to plow your land. Getting into the required tractor, driving up to the plow and hooking it up to the tractor are all easy steps. Now we drive to the field, line it up in the desired direction, activate the cruise control, lower the plow, and start turning over soil. Since plowing cannot be done very quickly you will spend a good few minutes plowing.
When plowing is complete you will drive your tractor back to the yard, hook up a planter of your choice and get back to the field. Again, you start cruise control, line up the field and lower the planter only to realise you never bought any seeds. Rather than opening a menu and buying some seeds, you need to drive your tractor with planter in tow over to the seed pallet on your yard and buy the required seed. It also occurs to you that not all planters will be able to plant all types of crop.
With planting done, you can either wait out the growing season, or you can entertain yourself with a bit of fertilizer distribution. This will enhance your crop’s growth and allow you to perform better come harvest season.
Watching the crop grow can be excruciating, especially in the early stages of the game when you only have a single field. Finding things to entertain yourself with is difficult and I often chased around in my tractor trying to flip it over. Thankfully the game allows you to speed up time. This does not help you get from point to point in the huge open world, though. It simply makes the sun go down faster, forcing you to figure out how the lights on your tractor work.
Harvesting is soon upon us and the tractor is sold and a new harvester is bought. Specialised equipment is one of the hardest things to do properly in the simulator and nearly every task requires a new implement to be attached to a tractor. Harvesters require the correct attachment, depending on which crop will be harvested.
Harvesters and most other vehicles have very limited storage capacity and as soon as it’s full all the contents can be dumped into a trailer. For speedier production, however, you can hire a driver to drive the harvester. A tractor and trailer can then follow the harvester, catching all the harvested material. Unfortunately tractors with trailers cannot be trusted with farm hands and as such you will always have to drive those yourself, or leave them parked next to the field.
The hay being left behind can then be baled and either sold or fed to your cattle. Besides the obvious planting and harvesting, you can also make money from the farm animals. Chickens lay eggs that can be sold for a profit and cows produce milk. Hanging on to some of the products might be a good idea as prices fluctuate with a dynamic market system. Timing is everything for profit.
The map in Farming Simulator 2013 is very big, especially if you sold your faster tractors for cash – driving from your home to the field can take a long time. Luckily the in-game map allows you to hop from one vehicle to any other vehicle, but it has to be a vehicle. The menu also allows you to buy new equipment which can then be collected at the corporation.
The world is also filled with AI cars driving around and seemingly minding their own business. These are such determined citizens that they only flash their lights at you and trust that you will move out of the way. When collision occurs (and trust me, it will) it would appear as though there was no connection at all, apart from the other cars flying through the air. The physics engine can act very bizarrely with cars often seen careening into oncoming traffic. It also appears that only farmers are poor as everyone else drives Bentleys and Audis.
The vehicles are all extremely well detailed, too, and the little animations when you lower your fertilizer spray or hook up a new forklift-attachment assists in creating a virtual world that works. The world may appear a little bland at times, with flat grasslands and very few interesting places to visit, but being a farmer is not about the beauty it would appear.
Online play is also available in Farming Simulator 2013, allowing your friends to join and help you mow some fields and clear up some hay. If you do this properly (also, if you even have enough friends with the game) you can set each one in a specific role where the others follow and the money rolls in. The title also allows for easy modding, and already there are a few items, like a quad-bike, that are simply a must. Getting from point A to B has seldom been as much fun.
Despite a fairly good open world where farming is the name of the game, or rather simulator, and vehicles so beautifully modelled that you can almost smell the diesel, Farming Simulator 2013 is definitely a simulator and anyone looking for a good game will not find one here. There are a few flaws here and there as far as outdated graphics and limited appeal go, but this simulator shouldn’t have too big of a problem finding a good home. Patience and a little knowledge of farming will go a long way in getting you hooked to Farming Simulator 2013.
The Good: Very realistic gameplay; Amazing vehicle models
The Bad: Very limited appeal; Some physics flaws; Extremely time consuming.
The Ugly: Farmville this is not!