Farming games don’t usually go beyond the standard harvest moon affair, and very rarely does the Farming environment get brought to the strategy genre without too many complexities –see SimFarm’s instruction manual- however UIG have definitely hit the nail on the head with their new Farming strategy game Farming Giant.
A farm is like a well-oiled machine, and to get everything working you need to have all of the core components. For instance a farm is nothing without its workers and the most important building in the game is your Main Building that allows you to hire idle workers that you can then station in particular buildings about your farm. Now goods can’t be bought without a vehicle, and crops don’t just harvest themselves, so next to the Main Building, the Garage is your best friend allowing you to store all of the necessary vehicles and extensions that your farm requires to transport your meat to market, and take your grain to your silos.
Like most games, we recommend that you try out the tutorial before diving in head-first, but rather than head to the campaign afterwards, try going straight to the scenarios and sample a bit of what the game has to offer. Farming Giant does have a bit of a learning, and whilst you can play the campaign happily, you really need to see exactly what the game is capable of, which is present in a selection of the scenarios. The scenarios are actually loads of fun and self-contained in a situation that will take up just a couple of hours of your time like surviving with crippling debt, making pork the most desired meat, turning your farm green, even banging out as much French cuisine as possible.
Unfortunately this does mean that when you start out fresh in the campaign, a lot of the game is blocked off to you, and you'll have to work your way up the farming ranks to start earning the big bucks. However one particular redeeming feature that battles against the pain of being a new player in a world restricted to you is that whilst there are 25 levels for you to attain, the levelling system is persistent, so if you find that your wholly chicken-centric farm is not cutting it, you can simply start a new game at the same level, and spread your skill points out to how you see fit, handy huh?
Now there’s two routes a farming management game can go, you can go all technical like the original Sim Farm, or you can enact mindless farming like the unfortunately popular FarmVille, in Farming Giant you get a substantial mix of the two, whilst you won’t have to worry about planting certain crops in the correct season, you will have to fiddle about with a field that does not have the correct ph, nutrients and keep a sharp eye on its humidity, least your plants fail to mature correctly.
The map is an amalgamation of Europe allowing you to set up your farm around Budapest, Berlin, Lion or Vienna, the names don’t really have any bearing but an interesting side portion of the game is had in improving the towns that will shrink and grow with your help. There are no rival farms, and for those that like a bit of competition in a their management games there’s no competing AI, but you have got the whole map to set up as many farms as your wallet allows.
What is so fantastic about Farming Giant is not only do you have a sandbox environment, but you can play it whichever way you want! You can go traditional, and simply harvest a variety of the 26 different crops, fruit and veg, butcher animals, or focus on a particular area of production such as a Dairy Farm, Vineyard, there are just so many choices. The scope of the game is absolutely massive, and when you manage to earn enough cash and level up to the heights of farming master you can produce crops, process the crops into a commodity and sell that commodity to the masses to the point where the land you own is worth billions!
An age-old predicament with the management genre is that you soon get to a point where your property is so large you simply cannot adequately manage it all by yourself, and whilst you’ll always remember to harvest your crops when they’ve matured, it may slip your mind to remember to plow and cultivate the field before grass starts growing, which is where possibly the best features of Farming Giant comes into play; automatic tasks! Automatic tasking allows you to inform your workers that when a certain task can be carried out, to do so without having to be told, such as harvesting a field, taking goods to market, or spraying a field with pesticides, in fact the only thing that is missing, is the ability to schedule your watering system!
Unfortunately when you attempt to live the jolly old life of a farmer, it will quickly dawn upon you that in fact, being a crop farmer just doesn’t bring the big bucks in, so you’ll have a hard time making a living simply selling wheat and corn, and if you wish to make any sort of money you need to head to the livestock trade.
However, if you aren't a big management fan, and you're not really fussed with farming, and quite enjoy a good old trading strategy, Farming Giant allows you to focus simply on the trade of goods from any of the individual towns that all have unique supply and demand, so it sure pays to shop around if you want to keep an eye on your purse strings. However if you wish to ensure that you get top dollar for selling your goods then you can strike up an order with one of the towns so you can deliver a certain amount of crops to them before a certain date, either immediately, cumulatively or periodically; great when you’re sitting on 10,000 units of Cow Meat and you know that Berlin is willing to pay 6.26 per unit!
If you’re the kind of strategist that loves to manage anything, and you often find yourself lost for hours in a game of Sim City then Farming Giant may be just the game you’re looking for, whilst it does cater to the particular niche of farming enthusiasts, there are just so many satisfying ways to play the game, that even the simplest of buying and selling on the market is a fantastically addictive way to play.
It’s pure addictive bliss down on the homestead, and with many levels and different buildings to unlock you’ll be sweating away at your farm for days at a time! Whether you want to deal in livestock, wine, bread, clothes, fruit juice or just crops, the choice is yours in Farming Giant 4/5.
Farming Giant is scheduled for a release November 9th for Windows PC in all good stores, but it already available online on most digital distribution sites for the SRP of £24.99. It’s suckered me in badly like a the best management models, so if you loved your ‘sim’ back in the day, you might want to check out this gem!