Every other year (usually years which have an even number) Focus Home Interactive and Giants Software release a handheld version of their popular farming game, Farming Simulator. Farming Simulator 18 is the latest in that series which brings the title back to Nintendo 3DS and PS Vita following a short stint on mobile. But how does it improve over the 2013 release?

Farming Simulator’s handheld outings are usually stripped-down versions of the much bigger and expansive PC and console counterparts. While the same fundementals are there, finer details have been somewhat simplified. Mechanics such as hooking up trailers has become more of an automated process, and equipment which require much more complex setups in the bigger games, are now a one-step process. Simply put, the control systems have been completely slimmed down for these handheld versions and they’re an absolute pleasure to play.

Farming Simulator 18 manages to faithfully bring a similar experience to its much richer bigger brother offering robust farming activities from the usual harvesting crops, to woodcutting, and tending to livestock. Pretty much all of the activities you can do in Farming Simulator 17, for example, can be done in Farming Simulator 18. There’s also a huge store full of name brand vehicles, as you’d expect from a Farming Simulator game, but again these aren’t just generic-looking vehicles, you can tell that even in this handheld edition, the attention to detail is fantastic.

The only real difference between Farming Simulator 18 is that this game is so easy to pick up and put down. Now I can see why it’s a perfect fit for mobile. In this game, like in the main titles, you can hire workers to complete tasks such as ploughing crops, mowing grass, and collecting bales of hay. This allows you to put your workers to work and sit back and relax until something needs doing, like collecting grain from a harvester, selling your crops, or tending to livestock.

Interestingly, Farming Simulator 18 feels much more like a time management game rather than a farming sim. Sure, you can opt to do everything yourself if you so wish, but I found the game to be much more enjoyable to watch the magic happen than making the effort to actually reap what I sow. That might just be me, however, as I also do this in the main entries to the series. I guess I’m just lazy.

While the game does offer the occasional mission or two, Farming Simulator 18 is mostly a sandbox farming game where players make their own fun. Whether you want to spend time harvesting Canola, tend to live stock, or chop down trees. While this can make for an enjoyable experience, you can often find yourself in a bit of a repetitive circle. Fortunately there are enough activities to keep you occupied if you want to explore another avenue, but there are times where the game can feel a little tedious.

Farming Simulator 18 also boasts an entirely new environment for players to explore set in Southern America you’ll find yourself in amongst a bustling town slap bang in the middle of an intersection. Here you’ll find plenty of places to sell your crop where prices fluctuate, so keeping an eye on who’s offering the best price is definitely a key part of the game. In addition to wheat, canola, corn, sugar beet, and potatoes, you can now harvest sunflowers – a first for the handheld version of the game. There’s also the addition of pigs in the game, offering a pretty deep livestock farming experience to players who want to dive elbow-deep into that one.

For those who have played the previous handheld entry to the series, Farming Simulator 18 will feel instantly familiar. It’s definitely a case of “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”. Though this could be seen as both a blessing and a curse. While the game does offer a number of new things for players to see and do as well as some better animations and visuals, the game feels more like an update than a new entry into the series. Though that’s something that’s been present throughout the entire series, so why stop here?

There’s not really too much I can say about Farming Simulator 18 as there’s nothing overly remarkable about this entry, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Players have come to expect a certain quality with the Farming Simulator series which is certainly delivered here.

While it’s not necessarily as feature-rich as the larger PC and console counterparts, these portable versions always set the bar low for players wanting to see what the fuss is all about and offers a pretty solid, albeit a little lower quality visually, than the non-portable offerings.

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