As a reasonably savvy consumer, I do tend to expect a similar level of competence in others. That said, if you don’t have your wits about you, it’s all too easy to be duped into buying a bottle of Timmy Hilfinger aftershave or a Pamosunic television. These brands usually exist to trick elderly relatives in search of a young family member’s carefully written down request into returning with a carefully named knockoff. It’s this kind of chicanery that the Professional Farmer series is often accused of. It’s not entirely unwarranted as the developer has been rather careful to adopt some very similar branding to its renowned peer Farming Simulator.

The surprise here though is that Professional Farmer 2017 needn’t market itself as Farming Simulator’s curiously similar but poorer cousin because, as a simple farming sim, it’s actually pretty good.

Professional Farmer 2014 - Screenshot 1

The more elaborate titles in this genre engage the player with real-world brands and vehicles to draw the player into a realistic experience. Professional Farmer has no such licensing deals so relies on fictional entities. This is in reality no more of an issue than a football game with fictional players. The core mechanic has no reason to suffer but there’s a reason people pay extra to have the real deal.

Professional Farmer 2014 - Screenshot 2

If you opt for the tutorial, Professional Farmer 2017 gives a decent overview of basic farming. It takes you out to a field, lets you mess with ploughs, grubbers, fertilisers, etc. I noticed very quickly that the handling of vehicles and of attaching the various implements was noticeably forgiving. It gave me a sense that the developers were adding value here and there by not making simple actions that required an element of precision mind-numbingly tedious to get through. The same forgiving nature comes across in the game as a whole and you’re unlikely to find yourself punished for accidentally trying to plough through the tarmac as you move between fields…

Professional Farmer 2014 - Screenshot 3

The areas Professional Farmer 2017 falls short (outside of authenticity) really fall into two categories; finesse and depth. The first being that you are often reminded of the ‘budget’ nature of what you’re playing only when trying to do something a little more advanced or specific. For example, I ran out of petrol in a field. The tutorial had not told me how to deal with this scenario and I was so dumbfounded that I had to start a new game. Now, the benefit of several hours experience has revealed that I can reset my vehicle and myself from the map screen. This function actually came in very handy as I had recently bought a new vehicle and it tiddly-winked my existing combine onto the roof of a nearby farm building.

Professional Farmer 2014 - Screenshot 4

Longer play reveals minor issues with resource management. I had serious trouble getting my animals to poop enough to provide adequate slurry to fertilise my (annoyingly distant) field. Once the planting was complete, getting crops grown became quite dull and long-winded when there was nothing else to do except start another field. The game does let you wait at speed but you have to make sure you keep your animals well fed or the march of time will knock them of their respective mortal coils.

VERDICT

There’s a weirdly satisfying feeling that only farming sims can give, something similar to filling in a colouring book or collecting all the raindrops on a car window with your finger. It’s something you can relax into almost immediately and Professional Farmer 2017 gives  you access to that without too much additional detail to worry about.

Those looking for the depth of engagement or variety of options available in more expensive farming sims will be disappointed, but for those wanting a simple, accessible farming experience Professional Farmer 2017 hits all the right notes and provides a more forgiving, arcade-style experience.

Good

  • Very accessible and uncomplicated
  • Entry-level farm-sim for the uninitiated
  • Graphic and performance good for a budget title

Bad

  • No authentic licensing
  • Lacks depth and polish
  • Occasionally you end up parked on the roof of a farm building
  • 2017? Really? its April 2016
6

Fair

A mid-30s gamer who, despite cutting his teeth on consoles from NES to Xbox 360, now prefers the nuts and bolts of PC gaming or the pixellated allure of retro-fayre. Has a 'proper' degree having graduated with a BA in Games Art & Design that he has never used... When not gaming for fun enjoys building games in UDK and making videos for the gaming channel Super Fun Game Time that he co-founded with his friend Marc. He once wrote a book about going to the toilet

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