Video games have long been the key to the impossible adventure we crave in order to fuel our imagination. But, they can also be valuable tools in understanding everyday professions we're not skilled in. Giant Software's Farming Simulator 3D is one of those tools that hopes to do this. If you've ever dreamed of living out an agricultural life with your very own farm, this game may just be for you. However, does this simulation offer enough value to someone who doesn't have a background in farming to give them a quality experience?
Following your choice, Farming Simulator refrains from the standard tutorial, and instead drops you immediately into the fields of your fresh, new farm. Giants Software clearly intended this to be a sandbox experience as there are only a few bits of info to help you begin. From there, it's entirely up to the player where they want to go, and how they wish to do it.
This may seem unforgiving, but fortunately, Farming Simulator does offer the necessary tools so you can manage your rookie farm for success. The bottom screen is loaded with information to keep track of, such as current prices for each crop to consider when selling, the businesses that are buying, how much they're paying for them, and more.
There's also a map that specifies where these businesses are, and where you must take your crops in order to sell them. Unfortunately, that's as far as it goes as the map's icons don't tell you what these things are. When a player drives to any location on the map, a rectangular square indicates an action can be performed there, but the game will never tell you what that is or how to interact with it.
This becomes a recurring situation as at no point does the game explain what you should be doing overall. There's no end goal to be found in Farming Simulator, which is common for sandbox gameplay. While some people may prefer a beginning and end in their games, this isn't to say Farming Simulator's content is dull. With a virtual farm to play in, you can choose from three different crops to grow, sell your harvest to businesses with competing prices, and purchase new equipment to improve your methods.
This option does not extend to deliveries however. You'll have to make the trek across the map yourself in order to generate a profit from your fields. Farming Simulator is built on a free roaming world to explore, which does give the player something more than a fixed screen to work in, but sadly serves little more than to be an A to B drive.
Occasionally, these trips can branch into quick optional missions, with a small amount of money rewarded if completed within the given time limit. Don't expect much depth though as they merely task the player to find missing or stolen goods somewhere by simply driving over the icon on the map. It's a missed opportunity not to require the player to grow a certain quantity of crops or challenge them to expand their farm.
These missed opportunities don't only affect the missions. There's a lack of polish, such as B being programmed to move forward instead of A, and the store leaving out information on what the equipment is and how the player should use them. Visually, the 3DS hardware hasn't been pushed to its fullest here, matching closer to the original DS's performance. The 3D effect does have a nice diorama feel to it though, and the lighting effects on the headlights during night are decent.
However, Giants Software should be given credit for at least offering a bridge to those who may be interested in simulation games. Farming Simulator may lack a true tutorial to help new players get started, but should they invest, they'll find plenty of content to play around with. The game includes 17 achievements to be earned, a very user friendly UI, and even reminds you to save every so often; which should be pointed out that both loading and saving are appropriately fast.
In conclusion, video game simulations are a tricky genre to recommend because there isn't much else to expect besides what's on the box. Like a puzzle game, Farming Simulator has an objective, and it's up to the player how they want to go about doing it. But in order to be successful, there must be some attempt to teach those new to the genre what their game is about. Farming Simulator fails to do this, but at least offers enough content to draw in someone who is interested. + Justin Prouty
6/10 - Giants Software's Farming Simulator accomplishes making a portable simulator for those familiar to the genre, with notable high points, but falls short of properly introducing anyone new to what their simulation is built on.