Farming Simulator 19

Platform(s): PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One
Genre: Simulation
Publisher: Focus Home Interactive
Developer: Giants Software
Release Date: Nov. 20, 2018

About Joseph Doyle

Joe has been known to have two hands with which to both play games and write reviews. When his hands are not doing those, he will put books, musical instruments, and other fun things in them.


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PS4 Review - 'Farming Simulator 19'

by Joseph Doyle on Feb. 12, 2019 @ 1:00 a.m. PST

Farming Simulator 19 offers the most striking and immersive visuals and effects to date, along with the deepest and most complete farming experience ever.

Buy Farming Simulator 19

The sun's bright rays shining on your face, the sound of grass fluttering in the breeze, and the soft twang of country music: If this sounds enticing to you, you might be intrigued by Farming Simulator 19. This biannually released franchise (no, you won't see Farming Simulator 19 II, or 20) is exactly what it claims to be, so how could it possibly be fun? While other simulator games like The Sims and Roller Coaster Tycoon are stimulating due to the prospect of controlling others' lives or getting to design and run a theme park, Farming Simulator puts you in the seat of a tractor, in a profession that's lost around 10 million workers in the U.S. in the past century.

Audacious as it may sound, trying to make this seem interesting has proved successful, with the previous iteration of this game selling 1 million copies in its first month a couple years ago. (Fun fact: That's the same number as roughly half the farms in the U.S.) GIANTS Software tweaks the formula from the last few iterations to deliver an impressive game, with myriad options to choose from in order to get your farm going, and improved graphics and gameplay that inspire realism but don't impede fun in too many ways.

The game opens up with a cinematic of a generic, attractive farmer driving his pickup truck to the barn, excited to start his day of plowing and sowing seeds, a pop country banger driving the scene. He starts up the tractor, and the scene cuts to him speeding down the field, horses galloping at a fast pace beside him. The scene then fast-forwards through the growing process, with the farmer man smiling at his fully grown cotton and leading a team of five harvesters to the fields. Cut to the title: Farming Simulator 19. It's flashy, punchy, and bright (the first minute and twenty seconds of this video) and seeks to appeal to the player who hasn't even dipped a toe into the franchise.

However, the pace and high action of the intro sequence are incredibly misleading and cover up one of the most glaring turn-offs of the game to most players. One could easily imagine the disappointment of someone seeing that intro, expecting a game with bursts of high-speed gameplay, only to encounter a relatively slow and sleepy experience. This isn't to say that the speed of the game is a problem, but it's frustrating to build up such expectations in the uninitiated player.

The general idea of the game is to run a successful farm, from harvesting, plowing, fertilizing the fields (and more) to managing the finances of your farm (which crops are selling well, what equipment/land to buy, which contracts to take, etc.) and more. There are two different maps to use and a variety of settings to change to ease or complicate the game. You can tweak the gameplay to change the time, traffic and weather to meticulously plan out how you want the game to go. This all goes to show that Farming Simulator 19 excels in giving players everything they could think of and more, with hundreds of vehicles and equipment to work your way up to and buy. It even offers mods on the PS4 version, so you can further tailor your experience. This potential of personal optimization is truly something to behold in a simulator game, especially one as detailed as Farming Simulator 19.

One thing that must be noted right out of the gate is the relatively steep learning curve of Farming Simulator 19. The game boasts that it will "teach you how to play Farming Simulator" on the easiest difficulty level, so naturally, I thought that meant I'd be able to understand everything from the beginning. Instead, the game taught me how to walk around, get into a tractor, and attach the right hitch for the right situation. Once you nail the relatively simple controls, you're off to the races — or, in my case, harvesting wheat and plodding around aimlessly without knowing what to do with all of it. I'm not ashamed to admit it took me about an hour.

Humility was the name of the game here, and Farming Simulator 19 delivered with a whole six-section tutorial for each part of the farming process. This was a much more informative (I am now fascinated by oilseed radish and the whole idea of cover crops) and much less humiliating hour of playing the game, but it goes to prove a few points. Firstly, the information at the get-go was confusing and misleading. Secondly, for a beginner, it takes a lot of time and experimentation to get into the game. Even after completing the tutorial, I had a tough time remembering which farming instrument was necessary for which task and how to best accomplish it. With hours of time and determination to understand how to best accomplish each task, Farming Simulator rewards you for your efforts of tinkering here and there.

The sounds and sights of Farming Simulator 19 are both cinematic and impressive. As you drive your tractors, harvesters, etc., you can hear the distinct hums of each engine, the satisfying clicks of attaching different tools or weights to your hitch, and the crunch of dried grass as you drive over it. The sound even muffles as you switch from third- to first-person view while you're inside the vehicle and operating the machinery. The sound design in this game is excellent and helps to build the experience around you. You can also listen to fake radio stations while you're in the vehicles, and unfortunately, the selection is rather limited. While country, electronic and pop music are the most generic for the audience, the selection ends up feeling quite limited.

The visuals, like the sound, are gorgeous. Each strand of vegetation, from wheat to grass, cotton to straw, and more looks distinct and moves around your tractor as you drive through it flawlessly. Tools glide into the place as they unfold behind you. You can see the pesticide land on each of the plants as you go. Realism is what GIANTS Software aimed for with the sounds and sights in Farming Simulator 19, creating immersion in this pastime that well emulates the real-life jobs of many.

Farming Simulator 19 is incredibly impressive in its attention to detail while creating a fun, realistic experience of life out in the country. In short, authenticity, in as much as I understand it, is not sacrificed to make this game enjoyable. It is likewise rewarding, giving players just enough guidance to start but not so much that you feel like your hands are being held. On the other hand, Farming Simulator 19 feels like a game built for people who have already played the earlier installments, understand what the game is supposed to be, and have seen and felt the game change over time. However, the payoff of succeeding in this game is worth the time investment to understand and master each part of the process. This isn't to say the game is perfect, since the time investment is incredibly high and there are generally frustrating and confusing aspects (the map is a nightmare on consoles, and the tedium of logging).

Overall, Farming Simulator 19 plays well and effectively puts you in the shoes of a farmer. Many use games as sort of escapism, to become something fantastical, powerful, to overcome evil, etc. Farming Simulator serves the same general purpose, only in a more realistic and tangible way by sating our curiosity about a profession that many of us will never know.

Score: 8.5/10

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