Having grown up in rural Derbyshire, I do have some experience of real, actual farming and I can say without doubt that one thing it definitely is not is exciting. It can be rewarding, it can be emotional, tiring and it's usually a lot more complex and involved than most people take the time to consider. But it isn’t a very exciting profession – not when things are going well, at least.
In this regard, Farming Simulator 2011 is true to the source material. It's one of the dullest games I have ever played, with even the tractor assault courses proving to be tedious. When even something as promising as a tractor race turns out to be boring, then it’s highly unlikely that driving a combine harvester in a straight line for hours is going to raise your heartbeat.
When this baby hits 88mph...
That’s exactly what you’ll spend all your time in Farming Simulator 2011 doing, by the way; driving in straight lines, be it to plough fields, cut grass or simply reach your dairy farm. This is a farming game. The title is not some post-modern misnomer put in place to disguise a super-violent shoot-em-up (though that is a good idea now I think about it) – this is a farming simulator. You will drive across the same field many, many times using an array of very slow vehicles and you will, if you want to get the experience over with quickly, do it in as few straight lines as possible.
It’s likely that this won’t be your idea of fun and that you’d rather play something a bit more fast-paced or violent – it’s an opinion I’ve shared at times during the review process. It’s important to note, however, that this doesn’t mean that Farming Simulator 2011 is itself bad.
As I played the game for review people would regularly walk past my desk and say that the game looked dull or boring. In some ways they were right, because this is a very dull game…but then, it’s not really trying to be the next Serious Sam, is it?
...then it'll be going 67mph faster than this vehicles top speed
In fact, while it may be fashionable to trounce Farming Simulator 2011 on every front, I can actually see it having some serious appeal for the niche of people that might actually want to play a game of this type. It has features that fans will appreciate and, comparing it to other titles in the genre, it seems ahead of the curve. It has a vast virtual world tutorials, a range of real vehicles and farming equipment for players to mess around act responsibly with and an impressive level of technical detail in some areas.
Unfortunately, many of these features have been bought together within the limits of a severe budget and thus, none of them feel as accessible or as interesting as they could be. Approaching Farming Simulator 2011 as a newcomer is made incredibly difficult simply because there’s no clear place to start, for example. The career mode just drops you onto a farm and gives you no direction, while the individual lessons that comprise the tutorial section number are plentiful enough to easily keep you occupied for a solid week.
This isn’t a good thing if all you want to do is find some arable land and tend some serious crops.