Review: Farming Simulator 16 (PSV/PSTV)

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Extras:

  • PlayStation TV Compatible Yes
Title: Farming Simulator 16
Format: Game Card / PlayStation Network Download (123 MB)
Release Date: October 6, 2015
Publisher: Focus Home Interactive
Developer: Giants Software
Original MSRP: $34.99 (US), €29.99 (EU), £34.99 (UK)
ESRB Rating: E
PEGI: 3
Farming Simulator 16 is also available on iOS and Android.
The PlayStation Vita download version was used for this review.
A copy of this game was provided by the publisher for review purposes.
PS Nation Review Policy

Josh introduced many of us, including myself, to the world of Farming Simulator 2013 on the Vita (audio review on Episode 329, at 1hr 31min) and described it as a small, complicated game that was thin on instruction.

Because of that review I never thought I’d like a Farming Simulator game and yet since my review of Farming Simulator 15 on the PS4 I’ve been toiling away on those virtual fields for months on end. I found the PS4 game to be very in-depth and rewarding. Imagine my delight when I found out Giants Software was doing another Vita version. It couldn’t be as basic as the last two attempts, could it?

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Gameplay:
Farming Simulator 2013 on PS Vita was a tiny 62 MB download. This iteration is more than double that at a whopping 123 MB. So what else have they crammed into the game? Well I’ll tell you – forestry. Yes you can now chop down the one type of tree that litters the play area.

However here lies my first problem; you can’t get out of the vehicles and use a chainsaw like the PS4 game. Now you have to slowly save up your hard-earned cash and buy a Scorpion King to chop the tree down and a Buffalo Wood Transporter to, as the name suggests, transport the logs.

… this is a quick port of their mobile phone game …
Gone are the days of getting by on cheaper machinery like a suitable trailer and tractor with log grabbing equipment. I understand corners have to be cut and parts removed to allow the game to run on a small handheld device but this is just ridiculous. So much is missing and too many things simplified. Maybe I’m too invested in the excellent PlayStation 4 version to see this game for what it is.

I’ve seen what the Vita is capable of and I know this game could have been much closer to the console experience. I hoped this instalment wouldn’t be almost identical to the older Vita versions. Sadly, I’ve realized that this is a quick port of their mobile phone game, and it’s horrible.

Horrible sounds too harsh and it probably is. How about lazy, because there is no denying it hasn’t changed much. You can still do all the same things as the older games. Plant different crops, complete missions, and buy some more fields. But it fundamentally remains the exact same game as the 2013 and 2014 iterations with only a marginal graphical bump, and I cannot abide the laziness.

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You know you’re playing a mobile port when touching the screen to continue is the only way to progress instead of also allowing the press of a button. We’re forced to press the edge of the screen in a menu to go back instead of simply pressing the familiar Circle button like we do in almost every other PlayStation game.

This game feels like a simulacrum of what Farming Simulator has become and if you still feel compelled to play a massively stripped down version then I suggest sticking with last year’s model.

… manages to feel empty and insipid …
I see no reason to buy this version other than the forestry machinery which is hardly any fun when compared to the recently released console games. I even encountered some strange anomaly where I had to chase my own tractor and trailer that for no apparent reason began fleeing my farm. With a full harvester, I pursued the possessed machinery that only stopped when it began to drive in a complete circle thus allowing me to get close enough to the trailer which starts the automatic unloading.

Every game from Giants Software tends to be sparse on guidance and telling you how to play, and Farming Simulator 16 is no exception. It plays like a basic 90’s simulator but the instructor has left and there is no instruction booklet to be found. It still retains the cold and clinical feel of the previous games but manages to feel empty and insipid as well.

Visuals:
Disappointing and basic are the words that spring to mind when I gaze upon the bland and uninspiring visuals of this lifeless repeat. It feels like I’ve jumped in Doc Brown’s DeLorean and we’ve travelled back to the early 3DS days. There isn’t anything wrong with the graphics I suppose but there isn’t anything right either.

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Audio:
Just like the visuals the music is very lacklustre and disappointing. The one country tune quickly becomes repetitive, as does the dull drone of the farming equipment.

Online/Multiplayer:
This game is single-player only with no online component unlike the cheaper mobile phone versions that allow co-op play with a friend over Wi-Fi and Bluetooth.

Conclusion:
Farming Simulator 16 on the Vita is a massive letdown and wasted opportunity. It looks and feels like the older Farming Simulator Vita games with barely any difference except for the absurd price. It plays just like the cheaper mobile phone versions yet fails to even include the two player co-op support that they surprisingly feature.

I for one will forget this review ever happened and go back to playing the fabulous Farming Simulator 15 on the PS4. If you find it on sale then it is the best of the bunch for Vita, but it still could have been much better overall.

Score:
5.0

* All screenshots used in this review were taken directly from the game using the Vita’s built in screen capture feature.

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