Let me first say this, I don’t have any problems with crazy simulation games on one condition: they are actually enjoyable. See my review of Scania Truck Simulator for example, a strange premise for a game, but one that worked out very well. Further, while I haven’t reviewed Farming Simulator 2011, I was pleased to see it was a game that worked and some people could find some fun within it.
Sadly, the same cannot be said for Agricultural Simulator: Historical Farming 2012, a game which means well, but ultimately is broken and very poorly explained.
After ensuring the game was the right version with the auto-updater, I started a game on the Tuscany map, the alternative option being an Alpine setting. Naturally, I chose the easier sounding Tuscany level which I assumed would provide me with an easier landscape to get my farming on with. My first thought was that my screen had been smeared with margarine as everything had some strange blurred greasy look. Wandering around my farmhouse revealed a greater terror than a margarine filled view, horrid unplayable framerates topping out at 20FPS when standing still. This is on a machine with a Intel i5-2500, 8GB RAM and an nVidea GTX460, not great optimisation. Things only took a turn for the worse when I turned down the graphics settings, while the framerate improved to a playable level and the margarine effect disappeared, scenery went walkies and the grass turned into a strange field of black. These weren’t the end of my technical issues as at random intervals during my time with the game, my farmer would decide to take it upon himself to start sliding around the world. It was like he put on skies, but with less control. There was no way of stopping the random sliding without loading up a saved game. There is always the chance that my system didn’t get along with the game in some way, but there is no escaping the margarine effect of the game on normal graphical settings.
Getting down to actually doing any farming isn’t the simplest of tasks, the controls list on the options menu is like a puzzle as it provides you with as little detail as possible. It tells you how to use a horn and turn the lights on your tractor, but it doesn’t mention how to enter your vehicle. For a long time I wandered the farm, exploring the pond which disappeared when I stepped into it and coming across an invisible wall preventing me from exploring the picturesque mountains lying in the distance. After hitting the invisible wall, I turned back to head home and came across a small village, clearly the place where you are meant to buy and sell things, but after much clicking of small buttons, I was unable to buy anything.
Back at the farm, and it becomes clear that Historical Farming is a game in dire need of an in-game tutorial, I can open a menu for buying new equipment and another menu which shows the date and how much livestock I have on the farm, but they don’t give me any indication for what I have to do to get anything to work. I manage to get a pig into a barn by clicking on it until it magically slots itself into a stall. That though doesn’t seem to make anything happen. Going back to the tractor I realise there wasn’t anything on the controls list for how to enter it, after frantic keyboard mashing and mouse clicking, I notice a small symbol by the steering wheel. A button press of this and I am ready to drive away and after some more button mashing, I spawn a plough and get it hitched to the back of the tractor. Success I thought, only to realise that I don’t actually know how to get the plough to work. The controls list is no help, it says nothing about how to use machinery. After some PR badgering I get my hands on an English language manual which helpfully tells me how to lower my equipment, so off I go to plough my fields. (Interesting, the manual lists the wrong control for leaving a vehicle, the in-game controls list has this one right.) Sadly, none of the fields on the Tuscany map seem ideal for farming on, I can’t find a flat bit of ground anywhere, and while I make some nice furrows, getting them in line with each other is nigh on impossible due to the awful tractor handling.
It was at this point that I knew I couldn’t go on with this game, it is broken and horribly inaccessible. You need the manual to make any progress, and even then the inconsistencies between manual and game are shocking. Deep down, there might lie an simulation game that will appeal to some people, but I can’t find it. Avoid this game unless you have the determination to look past the technical issues and persevere until things start to click into place.
Verdict – Off Target
Platforms Available/Reviewed – PC
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