In a world where Call of Duty, FIFA, Grand Theft Auto and Halo dominate, sometimes it’s nice to break the norm and try something different. Take Farm Simulator 2013 for example the game where you run your own Farming Business through the sales of produce and services. Developed by Giants Software, Farm Simulator started life on the PC before the decision was made to make a version for the Xbox 360, I must admit when I found out about the release I stuck my hand up for reviewing it in the hope of it becoming an unexpected hit, it didn’t quite end up that way but that doesn’t mean I wasn’t addicted to it.

I hoped Farming Simulator might be an unexpected hit, it didn’t quite end up that way but it didn’t mean I wasn’t addicted

I hoped Farming Simulator might be an unexpected hit, it didn’t quite end up that way but it didn’t mean I wasn’t addicted

When you start the game you can either crack straight on with Career mode or make your way through 11 tutorials which basically show you how to use some of the vehicles you will come across in the game. You are shown things such as how to harvest fields and sow seeds as well as how to control some of the vehicles you’ll come across in the game, unfortunately the tutorials don’t do enough to explain how the basic aspects of the game work, such as what all of the icons on-screen mean. The map you can access is poorly labelled too which will put off many people early on.

Once you’ve done that it’s time to experience a career on Farming Simulator. You are given the choice of two maps; one appears to be set in a riverside town whereas the other, added especially for the 360 version is set on an American map. There are three difficulty levels that determine how much capital you start with, how much you can loan from the bank and how much you will receive for your goods and services.

The aim of the game is to earn money and build up your farming empire

The aim of the game is to earn money and build up your farming empire

The aim of the game is to earn money and build up your farming empire, that’s it, just grow and sell your crops complete some odd-job missions and use your money to buy better equipment to get the different jobs done more efficiently. There are over 100 vehicles to drive, from Tractors to Harvesters, to Mowers to Hay bailers. You can purchase extra equipment such as palette forks or trailers to transport produce around the map. It’s not all about vehicles either; you can purchase livestock that will allow you to sell milk, eggs and wool too.

The gameplay couldn’t be simpler, you’ll find a lot of your time driving very slowly and mostly up and down in straight lines as that’s how you harvest your crops, cultivate the soil, and sow your seeds allowing you to harvest your crops again and so on. The controls are very simple and you can have an on-screen aid to help you remember the different commands for machines. You are able to quickly swap between the different vehicles you own and you can reset everything you own back to your farm, but with no fast travel driving around can quickly get tiresome.

As you build you empire you’ll buy more fields to grow different produce, but you will need help to manage everything. The game allows you to hire workers who will complete tasks on the different fields you own. Most of the time you can set them off on a task but I would advise checking up on them as they will sometimes stop for no reason or if two vehicles are too close to one another – the game isn’t clever enough to work out what to do. It would be great if they could do more such as helping complete the side tasks or even deliver produce to the different locations.

Invest enough time and you can eventually get to the big stuff

Invest enough time and you can eventually get to the big stuff

The presentation is mostly awful, the world looks like a toy town, cars just aimlessly drive around town as do the people walking about. If you hit them nothing happens, if you block their path they just stop moving. The buildings are all very bland and the textures around you only load when you are a few hundred yards away, it all feels very lifeless. There is no soundtrack, just the monotonous sound of the vehicles and the environment around you. It’s definitely worth sticking some of your own music on while playing this because half an hour of your harvester whirring along will send you crazy.

There is very little consequence in the game and doesn’t feel like a simulator at times, I don’t know of any tractors that can drive off steep hills with a trailer full of corn and land without breaking or spilling any goods, but you can in this game. The only saving grace are the vehicles themselves which actually look like some effort has gone into them, probably due to the fact they are all licensed, I haven’t saved enough yet but I hope to be driving a Lamborghini tractor pretty soon! There is also a huge amount of equipment available to help you round the fields.

Managing your finances is handled slightly better, you can loan or pay back money from the bank at any time to help you on your way and there are lots of stats available on you PDA to show you how much certain goods are worth. These increase when there is greater demands so it’s worth saving as much as you can in silos until a certain product is in high demand. The PDA also gives you access to the map as well as other stats to do with produce levels and upcoming weather reports, not that the weather seems to have any effect on your crops.

As poor as the 'sim' is, Farming Simulator is one addictive game

As poor as the ‘sim’ is, Farming Simulator is one addictive game

Even though the sim aspect is pretty poor, I can’t help but find myself dipping back into it, I’ve got a great little system going to maximise my earnings and each time I see my cash go up and my loan go down my sense of achievement kicks in. There is something about being able to afford a better piece of equipment to allow me to complete my tasks quicker. Another nice feature is the ability to speed up time and how fast your crops grow, the more you play the more you realise how useful it can be.

I can’t remember the last time I reviewed a game that had so much wrong with yet I couldn’t help but keep playing, if it wasn’t for the release of GTA V, I would probably put a good few more hours into the game this week. There are some good features but some of the issues need addressing, not to mention an online mode adding. My 5-year-old loves driving about and from an educational point of view they can learn an awful lot. The game is already quite cheap to buy but I imagine it will drop even more quite soon, if you fancy something totally different there is no harm in having a go, you never know, it might surprise you.

About The Author

When he isn't changing nappies or learning the latest songs on Cbeebies you'll find him taking the world on at FIFA or bouncing around on Kinect games.