Professional Farmer 2017 is, unsurprisingly, a farming sim. To sum up my experience with it, I would have to say it was a nice change of pace – if not a little underwhelming.
So what do you do in Professional Farmer 2017? Well, obviously, you farm, farm and farm some more. It’s you and your tractor versus the world. This world consists of four areas: your farm where you keep our feed, grain and animals; two areas filled with fields that you can buy in order to grow and cultivate your crops; and the town centre where you can buy and sell livestock, grain and other bits and pieces you need.
Exploring the world is somewhat interesting and the areas look pleasant to a certain degree, but you’re not here to admire the scenery. For a game that tries to be as realistic and lifelike as possible, the graphics are a little lacking; objects are rather blocky and pixellated, such as the hay bales, and textures are duplicated quite often. While Professional Farmer 2017 doesn’t do a bad job with these restrictions it still leaves something to be desired.
One area where Professional Farmer 2017 shines is in its soundtrack. Amazing musical scores play as you trawl around the fields. Although some of the more dramatic tracks seemed out of place a tiny bit (I felt like my combine harvester was outrunning an apocalypse at times), it never got to the point of annoyance; it just felt as if my iPod had shuffled into John Williams whilst I was out and about! The music as a whole is really enjoyable, but since there are only a few tracks it can get a bit repetitive.
Working your land is done by ploughing your fields, grubbing them, seeding them and then harvesting them once they have grown. Each steps requires a different attachment to your tractor, and all of them look pretty great. Ploughing and grubbing your fields is surprisingly relaxing and enjoyable. I tried to emulate the row by row, efficient way of nurturing my fields before resorting to making crop circles. Luckily Professional Farmer 2017 is pretty forgiving and you don’t have to touch each centimetre of land for each task to be completed. It may break immersion but allows people who are newer to farmer sims to get to grips with each mechanic.
This forgiving nature is needed as the control of the tractor isn’t exactly easy. It is not bad by any stretch of the imagination, but thanks to unwieldy camera angles, you end up mishandling when the view changes. You can resort to first person inside the cockpit but this limits your view of your fields so much that it really isn’t worth it. It’s all just a tad fiddly.
Coupling your tractor to your equipment, filling silos and dispensing crops is controlled in a simplisticly brilliant manner. Where I was expecting over the top sequences, I was simply allowed to stop, detach and unload before coupling back up and heading onto the next field. Every shop and animal is pretty easy to take care of as well and I never felt overwhelmed to what is a new genre for me.
Where I appreciated the ease this sim had to start with, the challenge didn’t really mount as I expected. The only real difficulty of the game comes through you own management of time and resources such as fuel. The mechanics that the game sells itself on, such as weather effecting the soil, can be ignored. The tutorial, whilst very good at covering the basics, never teaches you how the weather affects your crops and how you can counter this. Perhaps the missing campaign mode – that is not available on PS4 but on Steam – would explain, but it is something that you’ll have to wiki for now.
The length of loading times between each area is perhaps the biggest annoyance I have with Professional Farmer 2017. Each area takes about half a minute to a minute to load, which can take the pleasure out of the laid-back farming life. This may not seem too bad, but if you are having to go back and forth between each field to change your attachment it soon becomes laborious, especially as your starting tractor can only work two fields before needing more fuel. In some cases, you will have to pass through a loading screen a whole eight times to successfully harvest a field. It really disrupts the calmness of virtual farm work.
Two last little niggles: firstly, if you buy a tractor from a dealer in town, you have to walk back to town to use it rather than driving it straight from the dealer. Secondly, the livestock are a bit boring to look after: you just have to make sure you transport water, feed and hay to them. There’s nothing more to it; I simply fill them with loads of resources and let them chew it down before repeating. Only minor niggles, but a little more involvement would have made Professional Farmer 2017 that bit more immersive.
Overall Professional Farmer 2017 is… okay. It’s “extra ordinary”, not extraordinary. It gives you a calm and refreshing break of pace in terms of gameplay, but it doesn’t do anything to break away from the norm and stand out in any way. The graphics are average and there is no real complexity to the gameplay, but it’s very accessible and a wealth of new equipment to unlock keep you wanting to play. The relaxing atmosphere and music makes this a title worth playing for a more laid back gaming session, but if you like something a bit more challenging and action-packed, then Professional Farmer 2017 is probably not for you.