Professional Farmer 2014 – Preview
My dad used to help out on a farm. I haven’t really heard much of this story, and I think it mostly revolved around moving bales of hay or building a fence or something. Usually he just talks about how the farmer’s daughter was “fit as a butcher’s dog”. Anyway, that’s about as close to doing any farming as I can get. It’s just not for me; I’m not a big fan of getting muddy, any animals other than cats scare and annoy me, and if you catch me up at five in the morning it’s most likely that I just didn’t go to bed the night before. But the farming life intrigues me. Thankfully, Professional Farmer 2014 (formerly known as Agricultural Simulator 2014) is here to help me try it out.
Boasting a new graphics engine as its major improvement over the last entry in the yearly series, Professional Farmer 2014 sees you taking control of your own farm, and getting down and dirty by handling every task by yourself, from sowing and tending to your crops through to finally reaping them, as well as taking care of livestock and presumably slaughtering them for their tasty meat. Or just selling them at the market, which is more likely. You wander around your farm in a first person view, checking up on the various aspects of your business or simply basking in the sun, before getting into one of your many licensed vehicles and beginning a day’s work. There’s plenty of big-name companies lending their equipment to the game, so farmers and farming enthusiasts alike will be able to kit themselves out with their favourite manufacturer’s toys to tend to the crops with.
I didn’t get to see a whole lot of action in my short presentation of the game, but what I did see was oddly riveting. Not having any kind of farming background left me at something of a disadvantage, and so I was transfixed as I watched a tractor of some kind roll along a field, gathering up something from the ground and pausing only to drop perfectly rounded piles in its wake. The vehicles themselves look great, and there’s clearly been a lot of attention paid to making them look as much like their real-life counterparts as possible. This is evidently a game made with realism in mind – there’s no automatic hitching, for example, so when hooking up equipment you have to back up your vehicle and align perfectly with the equipment, or risk repeatedly ramming at it like you were making love to a disinterested partner.
I also caught a glimpse of some of the animals you’ll have to take care of; there’s chickens to feed and collect eggs from, cows to milk, and I imagine a whole host of other livestock to take care of as long as they remain economically viable. You can then head to the nearby town to peddle your goods, or drive around and take in the rather lovely environment. Professional Farmer 2014 boasts all four seasons, so you’ll have to keep an eye out for the changing times and weather conditions to make sure that you’re growing the right crops to maximise profits and not end up with a bunch of useless seeds and dead plants on your hands.
Of course, if all that sounds too much like hard work, you can rope in some friends to help. Four player online co-op will be included, so you and your friends can feed chickens, sow seeds, and tell trespassers to ‘gerroff moi land’ together, and generally have a right old time keeping your farm running. If you can persuade enough curious friends to join in, it’s likely to be a much more exciting experience than running the farm by yourself, which could easily become slightly overwhelming. Just like real life farming, then.
What little I saw of Professional Farmer 2014 points to it being a solid and enjoyable farming sim. With plenty of hulking real-life machines to play with, a range of livestock to look after and leanings towards making a realistic experience with touches such as no auto-hitching, there’s lots to look forward to for fans of the series and interested newcomers alike. Grab a bunch of friends and the whole thing becomes a bonding experience as you live the life of a farmer with your mates. It’s still in the ground gathering nutrients right now, but Professional Farmer 2014 should be ready to be plucked out from the earth by the end of November.
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