Many of us play video games as a form of escapism, and to experience worlds we wouldnít usually be a part of, whether itís shooting zombies, shooting aliens, shooting gangsters...actually now I stop and think about it a lot of games are very much gun focused. Well, instead of taking down waves of baddies, how about hopping in a tractor and ploughing a field for a couple of hours? It might not be as exotic as space travel, but itís still a form of escapism (unless you happen to be a farmer), and Farming Simulator 17 looks to bring you the best wheat growing/sheep dipping/manure spreading experience available.
Farming Simulator 17 is a slow burn. Donít jump into it expecting to get to grips with the game straight away, there is a lot to learn. From crop management to animal husbandry, this game is dense. There are a few tutorials that can be selected from the start, but if youíre new to the series, youíre bound to be a bit daunted. Even something as simple digging up a field requires a decent level of understanding of how tractors and their attachments work.
The controls add another level of complexity too. With the gameís origins on PC, there are a lot of functions that have been mapped to the controller for consoles, and pretty much every possible combination of buttons has been accounted for. Quite often youíll need to bring up sub-menus by holding down a shoulder button, and then pressing another button. If youíre driving a Massey Ferguson (thatís a brand of tractor for those without hours of virtual farming under their belts) across a field with a rotavator attached, thereís suddenly a lot to think about, and remembering which button lowers the attachment and which honks the horn will take a degree of learning.
Check out the game trailer here:
Having said that, youíve got the time to learn it all, because Farming Simulator 17 is a leisurely game. Unless you play it on the hardest difficulty, where crops deteriorate if you donít harvest them in time, you can go at your own pace, and have the freedom to do whatever you want. The game almost becomes zen-like when you take on a job. Itís not uncommon to have to spend 40 minutes harvesting crops in a field. Thatís 40 real time minutes of going backwards and forwards across the same few hectares, just driving your tractor and turning around when you get to the end. Whether or not that appeals is key to what youíll get out of the game, because while there are plenty of different activities, they all get repetitive after a short time. Thereís also a basketball court in town if you fancy shooting some hoops, something we all know farmers are famous for.
Thereís plenty of longevity in the game as you grow your farming empire, trying to turn a healthy profit to pay off your inevitable bank loan. Thereís also a wealth of content in the game, and youíll find yourself squirreling money away in the bank to afford that sweet looking combine harvester youíve been lusting over. As with previous games, there are also mods, which in the past have been a great way to extend the life of the game, and the active community is bound to make some great additions of its own to the latest title.
Graphically itís inoffensive, but youíd struggle to call it pretty. Itís the best looking Farming Simulator title yet, but honestly that was a low bar to start with. It introduces some new features to the series, such as being able to play as a female character, and there are new crops to tackle too. If youíre getting hot under the collar about the prospect of growing your own field of soya beans, then you already know that this is a game for you.
Thatís one of the things about the Farming Simulator games. They have a devout following, and more than likely anyone interested in the series will have been eagerly waiting for the release of this one in the way most gamers look forward to the latest Call of Duty. If youíre in this camp, then this is undoubtedly a game youíll want to pick up. It doesnít make any drastic changes to the franchise, but the small improvements lead to the most enjoyable and solid game yet. For those unsure, Farming Simulator 17 is perhaps the most accessible game in the series, but be prepared for a frustrating first few hours before everything clicks, and know that youíre getting into a game that is heavily based on repetition.
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