Farming Simulator 2015 is designed to let farming fans and connoisseurs of combines play with their favourite toys while maximising efficiency on a farm that exists in some kind of hypothetical theory-perfect bubble. How best to use your time and machinery to make profit from fields, livestock, lumber and random smaller jobs follows the same kind of thinking as games like Animal Crossing, Harvest Moon or even many MMOS. Theorycrafting comes into work and with a healthy knowledge of the tools of the trade (from tiny tractors to the terrifying Scorpion lumber cutter) you can fly into the millions and bask in the fruits of your labour.
Unfortunately we know nothing about farming. Many times while playing this I wasn’t exactly sure what kind of vehicle I was in or what it was meant to be used for. I’m almost certain they weren’t designed to be driven as the crow flies through lakes and other people’s property, but as a weird side-effect of Farming Simulator’s janky engine it’s almost as much fun as I imagine playing the game properly would have been.
Of course playing the game sensibly is possible, but it quickly turns into a laborious grind because you are simulating what many people do for a living day in, day out. Lining up perfect rows when ploughing or seeding a field might be engaging for the first five minutes. But when you realise it will take you fifteen minutes to do that for just a single field, to grow one set of crops, to earn a tiny bit of money, that grind starts to weigh down on you.
Thankfully, with Farming Simulator 2015, you can head online with 15 friends and all work on a farm together. This is immeasurably more fun, especially once you start getting carried away with creating your own games, like seeing how far into a lake you can get with various vehicles, or how quickly (dangerously) you can fell a tree.
At times the lighting makes for some nice vistas and the detail on the vehicles is truly astounding, with no end of moving parts and accurate controls, but sadly there’s so much going wrong with the engine at any given moment that it’s hard to recommend it from a technical standpoint. Often the game looks ugly, the UI is horrible and the physics range from insane and uncontrollable to simply non existent. We would have loved to have been able to destroy our expensive harvester as we rampaged around the fields of a Scandinavian county, but sadly you simply bounce off things ineffectually.
If you’re really into farming, you already own this game. If you really like messing around in co-op games and can make you own fun, it’s also worth a punt. As an introduction to the business-sim genre, not so much.