There’s something ironic about farming simulators, controlling the minutiae of country living from the comfort of an armchair. And Professional Farmer 2017, developed by United Independent Gaming, is latest farm sim to offer gamers the chance to live off ‘the fatta the lan”.
The first thing to note is that, unlike other simulation games, Professional Farmer 2017 offers a single-player career only. To make up for that, though, Professional Farmer 2017 does give gamers a massive open-world and customisation options that do, on some level, increase the immersion of the game. Fancy pimping out your vehicles with some sick rims and a fresh paint job? You got it. And to really drive home just how professional Professional Farmer 2017 can be, you’ll get the chance to own vehicles and equipment from the sort of big-name manufacturers in the industry that even non-farm fanatics will recognise, including John Deere, Lindner, Rauch, Krampe and more!
The tutorial explains the basics of the game and shows how to start farming straight away. If you’re just new to the genre, or just a hobby farmer who doesn’t like the stress and pressure of to-do lists and farming restrictions that the career mode requires, you can opt for the easier and enjoyable sandbox mode.
Either way, as you’d imagine, the game focuses the player’s efforts on crop management – just like a real farmer, see? You’ll keep your eye on the bottom line and have to start thinking farmerly. It’s not a case of dropping a few seeds in the ground and hoping for the best (this isn’t Professional Farmer Arcade, after all; it’s a simulator). Try to grow crops at the wrong time of year and you’ll suffer a low yield.
Having played other farming sims, we’re incredibly conflicted about Professional Farmer 2017. There are elements where this game fails to live up to others in the genre, but on the other hand, there are some aspects that PF2017 absolutely nails. For instance, calendar feature allows the player to fast forward to any time in the year, 1 to 7 days or by 1 to 4 weeks at a time.
The game also works hard to create a world players will actually want to spend time in. That’s not only down to the size of the map, but the dynamic weather system which runs the full gauntlet from sunshine to thunderstorms (which look good). This adds an element of the unknown, forcing players to take the climate into consideration when controlling their land and making money.
We thought, when setting out on our farming career, that our starting cash fund of $250k was very generous. Then we realised why. Even though vehicles are relatively cheap, and the fields affordable, the true cost is the price of fuel and seeds. The first tractor players can buy is a gas guzzler – you’re lucky if one full tank gets you from your fields at the top of the map to your farm, at the bottom of the map. Throw in the time it takes to drive around your field and you’re facing a very expensive farming career.
You start out with the basic tools, that ‘generous’ stack of cash, a starting stock of seeds, slurry fertiliser, and hay bales for the animals you’ll eventually have to buy. If you want to be able to grow anything in the fields, you need to have animals; without the crops in the fields you can’t feed the animals. So where do you start? We found it best to buy the smallest field, use slurry to fertilise it and get that started, then buy animals and feed them with the provided corn and grain until you can buy your own. Initially we made the mistake of buying the bigger field, thus running out of fertiliser 77% of the way through the field. Lesson learned!
One of the biggest bugbears in the game – and something that’s bound to get annoying for a lot of gamers – is the long loading screens when entering the tunnel that takes you to the other side of the map. What makes this worse is, you have no choice but to go through it if you want to go between your farm and your fields (there 22 fields in total). There’s just no excuse for the length of the PF2017‘s loads in today’s gaming.
The graphics, too, could be a lot better. For a simulator, they’re very cartoon-like – the lights on the vehicles look more like a brilliant white halo, rather than headlights, especially during the day. Thankfully that improves during the night, but it’s still not a very realistic effect. It’s small problems like this that snowball and break the immersion, taking us completely out of the game.
If you enjoy playing farming simulators where you can choose your preferred difficulty, like the realistic weather dynamics and fast-forwarding calendar feature, then give it a try. We think Professional Farmer 2017 comes with a pretty hefty price-tag, a penny south of 32 quid, considering the size of the game (it clocks in at 8gig) and just 15 high-G achievements, ranging from 50 to 150. But it’s fairly decent for a small game suitable for all ages and experience levels.
Professional Farmer 2017 is available in the Xbox Store priced £31.99.
An ambitions farming simulator that never quite reaps what it sows.
Pros: A broad landscape, and well-considered crop management system offers solid, if basic gameplay for the genre.
Cons: The graphics kill the ‘real-world’ immersion, the way those long load times do. For what it is, it’s pretty pricey too.