Ever thought about farming? Driving a tractor, milking cows, sheering sheep, and collecting eggs? If you can’t afford a big John Deere tractor or live somewhere you can’t keep a cow Giants Software may have something just for you, Farming Simulator 2013. So how well does this computer simulation stack up? Read on future farmer of computer fields.
Farming Simulator 2013 does not have a story per se. The load up screen sets the scene, telling you that you have acquired a farm and the nearby town of Hagenstedt hopes you will provide a boost to the local economy. No pressure. When the game starts you own a nice farm house, various crop storage facilities, five tractors, one harvester, one plow, one tiller, one seeder, two front weights, and a noisy rooster. Beyond that the closest thing to story is the side job alerts that ask if wish to help do a variety of tasks, from help delivering lost luggage to cutting grass on the golf course.
Controls and Gameplay
The controls for Farming Simulator 2013 are pretty simple and straight forward. If you do ever find yourself lost there is a window in the upper left that shows most of the keys or buttons available for the task you are doing at the time. For example if you are plowing it will show you what keys to lift/lower, rotate, and fold/unfold the plow with. On the PC version you have your choice of using mouse and keyboard or gamepad controller; both work very well. I used a combination of them myself.
The gameplay of Farm Simulator 2013 falls somewhere between a driving simulator and a financial and resources management simulator. On the driving simulator side, have driving options in the various pieces of farm equipment. You can plow and till the soil, plant seeds, fertilize, and then when the time comes, harvest in your pursuit of running your farm. These jobs in particular you can “hire a worker” if you want to do other things in the game. On the financial and resources management side you have a multitude of things to watch; the daily upkeep costs, buying and selling of goods etc. A daily upkeep cost of all of your equipment is automatically taken out of your budget. To increase your budget you have to decide when to sell goods or store them to wait for better prices. You can also shop for more efficient vehicles that allow you to farm more area in a faster amount of time. Even the buying and selling of cows, milk, sheep, wool, chickens and eggs are all up to you to manage. The game is open ended enough that you can do as much or as little as you want. If you just want to drive a tractor around and do nothing, you can.
There are tutorials so you can learn the basics on how to run your farm. There is also multiplayer availability so that you can farm or goof off with your friends.
Graphics and Sound
Graphically Farming Simulator 2013 is not going to win any awards anytime soon. The look is realism, but from about three years ago. The tractor models and equipment look great, but the farmer, townspeople, and incidental traffic look dated with some pixel jaggies. Graphical “pop in” is pretty rampant too. I do have to say their skybox produces some of the most beautiful sunrises and sunsets I’ve seen in a game.
Sound is better. Tractors and equipment sound much like they do in real life. They took the care in the sound by including minor sounds like squeaks of metal when having certain pieces of equipment deploy or hearing excess air from an air brake system blow.
It’s an odd attention to details in sound, but not graphics, but more on this later.
Farming Simulator 2013 is a tale of two games. On one side there are the people who will buy it to seriously play it as a sim. They will find a game that is mostly up to the task. Your management of goods, services, and time farming will result in financial gains or losses while the game progresses. Because watching crops grow is (I’ve been itching to use this saying) like watching grass grow, you have the option of making time pass faster. Manipulation of time is a key factor if you wish to take on the side jobs that are offered. These jobs have a set time to complete them in, once you’ve started them. So say your fields are ready to harvest, but a high paying side job pops up. Put the game into real time now your crops will grow in real time and not wither away and die while you deliver a case of balloons for $7,000.00.
So there is that sim side, but then there is the goof around side of the Farming Simulator 2013. The physics engine allows for some interesting things to happen. During one multiplayer session my friend and I got two golf carts from the golf course and ran them head on into each other. Well the results pretty much speak volumes about the physics engine, which you can see in video I posted below. And that’s not all. You can drive or walk through the townspeople. The light poles in town will hold up the full weight of a tractor, if you can manage to get it up there. You can even drive on such a steep slope that in the real world the tractor would just fall over. In this game they move right along like it’s no big deal.
While in most games this would be a major drawback, not so much here. In fact I am pretty sure Giants Software knows how “broke” their physics engine is. In doing a little research into past entries in this series, plus the fact that Farming Simulator 2013 was released early in Europe first, there are a lot of videos I found on YouTube of people just having fun with the broken physics. You could say it’s the ultimate in free roaming open ended game play. In one video I saw guys farm just enough to grow a large wheat field. Then using the harvester they cut a race track in the wheat and had golf cart races.
How can you say a game is broken when so many people are having fun with it? I had fun with it just as is.
So now comes the hard part, how to rate it. Both sides of the game have their good points and bad points. The simulation aspects are solid, but the physics engine can take away some of the realism. The broken physics engine allows for a lot of freedom to goof off and play with tractors like you were a five year old child with toys. I think that is the beauty of Farming Simulator 2013, you can be as serious or as silly as you want. I give it a 4.5 out of 5.
Farming Simulator 2013 is rated E for Everyone by the Entertainment Software Ratings Board (ESRB).
Farming Simulator 2013 is available now for Windows PC and Mac. Console versions are coming soon. For more information see the Farming Simulator 2013 web site.