Ever since the days of Rollercoaster Tycoon and Sim City, we’ve seen an abundance of simulator-style games. Some of these have been decent, while others have been downright baffling – Street Cleaning Simulator, anyone? However, in spite of their quality, these types of games have had more of a home on the PC rather than consoles or handhelds. Faming Simulator 14 is an exception to the rule – but is it worth investing your time and money into?
Simulation games tend to grab your attention quite early on; there’s something quite addictive about overseeing a specific location and watching it evolve. The trick for developers is to incorporate a tutorial into these early stages so that you garner an understanding of how to succeed, but while managing a farm in real life is no easy task, this game glosses over any real explanation. You’ll start out in the middle of the world with very little direction, and any explanations that are offered are so simplistic that they’re borderline useless. This makes getting started a real challenge.
Of course, the objective is straightforward enough: be a successful farmer. You’ll have a small sandbox to explore, where you’ll be able to purchase new land to plant crops, and also find local businesses willing to bid on your goods. You’ll traverse the environment using a selection of tractors, and you can purchase more along the way. Naturally, you’ll need the proper tools to handle the crops across your fields, too, and you’ll quickly expand your roster of trailers, cultivators, sprayers, and sowing machines.
In order to attain these items, you’ll need to make some bank, and so selling the grains that you harvest is essential. A pricing list shows how valuable your products are at different locations, and so you’ll need to plug in your business brain and offload them to the highest bidder. Meanwhile, if you don’t want to sell your produce immediately, you can always store it in your silos. The value of your various crops changes daily, so holding on until you get a decent deal can be a good strategy – though there’s only a day-and-night cycle to plot the progression of time, and no in-game clock of any kind.
Control wise, this game isn’t terribly complicated. You’ll drive your tractor using either the Vita’s shoulder inputs or face buttons, and use a specific tool’s ‘feature’ with the circle button; hitched tools can be detached with the triangle button, while the camera is mapped to the right analogue stick. Meanwhile, if you feel like showing your superiority on the road among other drivers, you can honk your horn by tapping the rear touchpad.
As you play through the game, notifications will appear in the top-left corner of the screen. Tapping these will initiate missions, which vary from collecting objects to selling your products at a multiplied value. All of these objectives have time limits, so if you’re in the middle of harvesting, it’s best not to trigger these tasks until you’re done. However, they are worth participating in as they offer a quick way to earn extra money. This cash is essential, as you’ll eventually be able to hire extra workers to give you a helping hand.
From a visual perspective, the game looks passable, but it’s far from impressive. The environments are textured well for the most part, with some detail on the surrounding buildings and greeneries, but the lighting’s incredibly flat. One of the nicer graphical features is that when you’re working on the fields, you’ll see the grains scattered on the dirt. Sadly, crops look as stiff as a brick – it’s as if there’s not a single breath of wind in the world as they simply stand still. The tractors look decent at least, and sound fairly authentic. Unfortunately, there’s not a lot else in the audio department that’s going to keep your ears stimulated.
Farming Simulator 14 is a functional game that will offer some entertainment for those that can get past the steep learning curve. Sadly, once you progress beyond that point, there’s little in the way of reward. This game isn’t broken, but it’s a bit of a chore – and while that’s probably part of the point, it doesn’t really excuse the frequent bouts of monotony that you’ll experience on the way to soil turning stardom. The simulation genre is a fine fit for the Vita, but unless you’re an avid agricultural addict, it’s difficult to recommend this particular title.