Farming Simulator 15 (Xbox One)
Fully control your own farm with Farming Simulator 15 by GIANTS Software and Focus Home Interactive.
May 19, 2015 (Xbox One, PS4)
Windows, Mac, Xbox One, PS4, PS3, Xbox 360, Nintendo 3DS, Playstation Vita, and Mobile Markets
Developer: GIANTS Software
Publisher: Focus Home Interactive
Rating: E for Everybody
The cool breeze flows through your hair as you feel the Sun warming your epidermis. You hear your New Holland tractor hum as it travels down the border of your field, while soothing every fiber in your body. You feel yourself let go and begin to enjoy the bliss of owning and tending to your very own farm.
Uninformed folk may scoff at the title, but Farming Simulator 15 is no joke. As far as simulation games go, it doesn’t get any better than this. GIANTS software has been making these games since Farming Simulator 2008, so it is no surprise to me that they know exactly what they are doing. In what most people would expect to be a niche market, GIANTS has actually found a much bigger following between the casual fan and the regular gamer. This shows not only that there is interest in these types of games, but if they are done right, any gamer can find something to like about Farming Simulator as well.
There is no story in Farming Simulator 15. You can however, make up your own imaginative story in your head because virtually everything else can be found within the game, such as real vehicles, your own animals, your earnings, expenditures, and much more.
Spiritual content: None.
Language/crude humor: None
Sexual content: None
Drug/alcohol use: None
Other negative themes: None
Positive Content: An educational look at what it takes to run a farm.
Most gamers who pick up Farming Simulator 15 will have not the slightest clue how to manage a farm so GIANTS Software created a 16-part tutorial showing off the various activities you can do with your farm. Among these activities are: plowing a field to loosen the soil and get it ready for planting, sowing (seeding) the field with your choice of crop, spraying your crops to make sure they grow as best as they can, harvesting your yields when they are ready, and cultivating to prepare the field for next season’s growing. These tutorials not only taught me how to play the game, but were genuinely educational and somewhat applicable in case I ever need to know farming in real life. The tutorials act as a prep to the main Career game mode as you will use all of these functions but in the appropriate order of need.
In Career mode, new farmers are given a small selection of basic farming equipment such as three tractors with a couple different add-ons like harvesters and cultivators, a loan for their budget, and the ability to hire workers to help you. At first it may seem daunting, but if you remember what you learned in the tutorials and carefully weigh your decisions, you can start earning money relatively quickly. The decisions you have to ponder include, “Should I plant wheat on this lot instead of corn?” and then “Should I use this corn crop I just harvested to make silage to feed my cows or should I sell it to do other things?” These choices will make or break the success of your farm so each factor must be thought of before making a final decision. Career mode challenges players to balance their entire farm’s budget, inventory, fields, and animals.
Physically playing the game is an absolute delight because of the streamlined and quasi-realistic controller mapping. Using the triggers to drive feels like using pedals, and using the bumpers and buttons to execute vehicular actions feels like you are virtually manning your own large tractor. For example, while you are holding right trigger to apply gas and propel your tractor, pressing left bumper and the X button brings your add-on (harvester, cultivator, etc) down and turns it on at the same time. Other pieces of equipment need to be set in place and turned on separately, but as you can see, the controls make it very easy to do on the fly. All of the game’s controls revolve around this unique use of the controller, like enabling Cruise Control by pressing left and right bumper together and pressing X simultaneously. If it sounds intrusive and clunky, it really isn’t, and you will be using Cruise Control religiously because holding the trigger for extended periods of time is exhausting.
You might just think you are on a real farm while you are playing Farming Simulator 15. I found the graphics to be fully immersive and realistic from the real, licensed vehicles to the animals and the lush, vast, blowing fields all over the map. Vehicle brands that are present are: Case IH, New Holland, Lamborghini, Stoll, and much more. Your farm and its fields are just a part of the overall map of the game as you can venture to shops to buy more farm equipment, visit a drive-in theater, a train station, and other points of interest. Vehicles are sized perfectly and look exactly like they would in real life.
Farming Simulator 15 features a dynamic camera system. When you are outside of farm vehicles, you’re in first-person perspective. By default, you are in third-person perspective inside vehicles but you can also go back to first-person if you choose. Playing the entire game in first-person feels more immersive, naturally, but you won’t achieve the same success as you would with a bigger viewing radius because third-person allows you to see more and plan your actions better. When you are in third-person mode, you can use the directional pad to zoom in or out further. Also in the User Interface is an extremely helpful mini-map that can be expanded to a full map over most of your screen so you can find out where you need to go to achieve your next objective. The map has coordinates for even greater functionality and guidance.
Looking out the windshield of your tractor while watching the wheat roll through your harvester is surprisingly one of the most relaxing feelings in the world. Though the game is missing some ambient noises like the ones you would hear in a golf game, it still sounds real with all the vehicular noises. I would have appreciated some bird chirping, the sound of wind, or any other realistic tumult that may happen in real life, but it still worked for me. In fact, to compensate for this, I put on some music while I played and it was one of the most freeing experiences I have ever found in a video game. The menus feature music though.
Farming Simulator 15 is a must-buy for farming enthusiasts, but I would encourage any gamer to try it out just because of how polished the game is. Most farming machines are generally “Get in, put in place, turn on, and go over your entire field,” but the act of actually knowing what you are doing adds a ton to the overall experience. You won’t find such a true simulation like this in other games of this expanding and trendy genre. I made money, plowed fields, planted seeds, harvested crops, and more as I made my way to a relaxing, pleasurable joy.
+ Life-like polish from the vehicles, to the realistic fields
+ Over 40 licensed brands of farming equipment
+ "Hire Worker" feature
+ Somewhat educational
+ Non-violent, positive fun for all ages
+ Fast, functional pause screen
- Lack of ambiance
- Overwhelming even after tutorials
- Severely Overpriced