Review – Farming Simulator 19
Sitting in a tractor’s cab for an extended period while cultivating a field likely doesn’t sound like many people’s idea of fun, and that might not change when it’s a virtual tractor cab and a virtual field in Farming Simulator 19 – the latest in the farm sim franchise by GIANTS Software – but then again, maybe it does. It’s kind of remarkable how soothing it can be to just cut laps in a tractor, whether you’re cultivating, seeding, spraying, or harvesting, even without the ability to listen to Bryan Hall call Eskimos games over the AM radio.
While there’s no AM radio support, Farming Simulator 19 is an ambitious effort by GIANTS with an overhauled graphics engine, new crops, new animals (including pigs, cows, sheep, and chickens), over 300 vehicles – including the all-new John Deere, new ways to farm, a 16-player multiplayer mode, new tools – including the ability to ride horses, and a slew of other improvements – like being able to expand your fields by simply clearing the land yourself. GIANTS managed to add all this in limited development time, while keeping the basic controls intact enough that returning players can forego the bulk of the tutorial and get right back into the fields.
That’s not to say there’s nothing new that needs a bit of an introduction, and the game does a good job of hand-holding players through the first few interactions with new farming mechanics like forestry before allowing them free reign to sink or swim.
For the record, when it came to forestry I sank like a stone.
The controls to cut down trees and clean them up for transport and sale were easy enough, whether using a hand-held chainsaw or the vehicle-based cutting and limbing equipment, but I couldn’t figure out the proper way to load the cut-down trees into the wagon specifically designed for hauling them. I also managed to fall a tree directly onto a car that was driving past the stand of trees next to the highway, which seems like a pretty poor place to put a highway if they’re doing farmer consultations next time around.
While Farming Simulator 19 has added more than most would have expected, there’s still more work to do. Farmers might be delighted to see its absence, but everyone else will be disappointed there’s no need to worry about weather in the game – whether it’s an inconvenient minor rain that delays seeding by a day or an early snow that delays harvest by a week or more. Those kinds of random events would go a long way towards helping put gamers into the shoes of the typical farmer and expand the simulation aspect of the game a tremendous amount.