Lets get farming!
As a child, did you ever dream of growing up to become a farmer, spending your days charging around your back garden on your toy tractor and trying to catch sheep in a nearby field to bring back home with you? No, just me? Well never mind, even if it wasn't your childhood ambition, Farm Expert 2017 gives you the opportunity to own and run your very own farm! The game is nicely varied, with you having to fully prepare fields before crops can be grown, to making sure you sell livestock before they get too old and die, this game will definitely enhance your organisational skills.
Farm Expert 2017's been planted, cultivated and harvested by Silden and sold on the local produce market by PlayWay S.A.,FE17 definitely has some initial appeal for those who enjoy a good simulation game. The game boasts some pretty good effects as far as the weather is concerned, a fitting soundtrack every time you jump into your tractor and enough to do to keep you tiling away for hours on end.
However, all these aspects are let down by some unfortunate and persistent bugs, as well as some pretty horrendous controls and physics for the vehicles. And although it is very varied, it suffers from a lack of depth which could leave you a little underwhelmed. There is also a multiplayer aspect to the game, though getting it to actually work is more akin to dark magic than computer games.
Farm Expert 2017 is currently available on Steam for £14.99
With no story to speak of let's get right down to the nitty-gritty of what you can do in the game. Because there is quite a bit. Now before I properly start, I do first want to come clean and say that this was my first ever real farming sim game (unless I can count Stardew Valley?) so I just want to get ahead and say sorry for any really noob-like comments. Moving on…
Setting up is pretty easy, after loading in you're met with a menu asking to create a profile which is just a matter of creating a name and going from there. FE17 has a couple of modes you can choose from including Free Roam and Multiplayer (I'll talk more about the multiplayer in a moment). For me, however, the first go-to place was the Tutorial. There's a bit of a language barrier with some incorrect spelling and grammar, but once you get past that it's all relatively straightforward. It did, however, take me about ten minutes to figure out how to reverse because I stupidly assumed it was a simple WASD setup rather than having to press Z first in order to change direction. But after these hiccups, I did find myself enjoying the game. There's something strangely satisfying about having to go through the motions of reversing up to a piece of equipment, hitching it up, folding it away and then merrily tootling along to your field for a day's work.
Once I had mastered the basics of actually moving and farming, I dove straight into running my own fully-fledged farm. You get a few options to pick from, basically ranging from Easy to Hard. Naturally, as a complete amateur, I chose the Easy option. Thanks to my choice I started out with a sizable sum of cash and quite a healthy amount of machines already in my possession, so I could press right on with buying my first field, gathering a few crops and getting to work. I found myself rather enjoying my time as a farmer, finally achieving my goal of driving a tractor.
However, I gradually started to notice a few things. For starters, the handling of the machines is just not up to scratch, especially on the roads which you'd think would be smooth but for some ungodly reason cause your vehicles to bump along constantly. The game also doesn't seem to factor in the added weight of things which you hitch onto your tractor, allowing you to accelerate at much the same pace as you usually would. After a while, I discovered that the physics in the game could lead to some pretty horrendous cock-ups.
And later on, I also found out that the terrain actually had no effect on the speed of your vehicle, allowing you to charge full speed up steep mountains and go on your own mini-adventure…
So yes, the actual physics of the game leave something to be desired. But the actual gameplay is pretty varied. So if you don't want to just drive around planting and harvesting crops all the time, then no worries! You can go into animal husbandry with a few different choices for which animals to keep and making sure to keep them fed as well as selling them for meat before they die of old age. Or you could grow orchards to make your own delicious fruit, having to fertilize and gather the produce yourself, and even have to lug the box back to your trailer! But maybe you do just want to stick with good old-fashioned crop farming, in which case you have to pick your crops depending on the season, carefully cultivate fields properly and then make sure not to run them over or else they'll be destroyed!
There's also vehicle maintenance and care to take into consideration, so that you have to fill up your tractor with petrol to keep it going, make sure it's nice and clean (because apparently, this is important for tractors?) as well as repair or improve it now and again to make life easier.
Pretty varied, right? Right. Unfortunately, this variety does not translate to depth or detail. So yes, you can grow your crops, care for animals and grow fruit orchards. But there's no variety in pricing in the shops, so there's no need to look around for better buying or selling prices as every shop will give the same results. This lack of economy frankly lets down the whole process. Your animals do need food, but not any water or time outside of their pens. You don't even need to feed them yourself as anything you buy gets automatically transferred to the pens and the animals somehow gain access to the food themselves. And with orchards, after planting and fertilizing them there's nothing else you really need to do until they're ready to be picked. This lack of depth turns the game into more of a calendar watching experience.
You can hire a workforce to help you out, and watch them go about their work is vaguely interesting at first, but soon loses its novelty. Other NPCs in the game don't offer any interaction and basically, act to just try and give the world a semblance of life. Without success, I must say.
There is also supposed to be a multiplayer aspect to the game, but lord only knows how you can actually join people. I've trawled many forums with others having similar issues with no resolution forthcoming. Multiplayer is something which was added last minute, so perhaps it will be improved in the future?
Graphics and sound
The first thing I'd say is that the game does not really boast the most impressive graphics, with some of the textures looking pretty messy and quite a few popping issues going on. But I'd think the vehicles looked pretty decent on the whole, and the weather effects were reasonably well done. There's something oddly fascinating about watching puddles form on a field while it's raining.
It also has some terra-forming effects as well, so when you're preparing your field some of the machines you use actually form trenches and other alterations in the land, which changes the way your vehicle will drive over them, which is pretty nifty. And from what I understand from doing a bit of reading, something which doesn't happen in Farming Simulator games or other competitors. Character models are pretty bland and forgettable, but apart from the pointless NPCs, there's not really enough characters around to take much notice.
I personally found the soundtrack really enjoyable. There was something mildly entertaining about the music starting up every time you jumped into your tractor. The fact that the sound of your engine changes depending on whether your inside or outside of the vehicle was pretty neat too. However, once you noticed the looping sound effects, it starts to become a bit annoying. Also, every time you got out of the tractor your character would for some reason think they were jumping and make the appropriate sound. As well as this a couple of the vehicles which had no doors still played the door closing sound each time you got off. A minor complaint for me, but still a bug.
Due to my lack of exposure to previous farming sim games, I found myself enjoying Farm Expert 2017 at first, but once I had partaken in all the varied tasks I found myself getting bored quite quickly. And ultimately a number of the bugs can prove to be rather frustrating. If this game was a little more polished and had some depth added to it, then I would certainly rate it higher. The multiplayer certainly feels tacked on and the whole experience just becomes a bit of a drag eventually.
I'm afraid my farm is doomed to become derelict.
|+ Plenty of variety||– Buggy physics|
|+ Fun soundtrack||– Lack of depth|
|– Becomes a waiting game|
|– Non-functioning multiplayer|
|– Other minor bugs|
|– Pointless NPCs|