Ever wanted to drive track at over 200km/h? Not your style? How about driving tractor and prepping a field for the fall harvest? Maybe you’re a little more politically minded, and you’d like to manage the daily goings-on of a village with weird, bizarre animal-like villagers. The wonderful thing about simulation games is that they let you do things that you never could or would. Want to get caught up with some of the best sim games out there right now? Read on.
The origin of simulation games
The history of simulation games goes back nearly three decades; a golden age of simulations rose during the DOS era and continued on through the 90s, with titles like SimCity, Sim Earth, Flight Simulator, Populous, and Galactic Civilizations–there has always been a bit of cross-over between simulation and strategy games. The idea was to bring places, professions, and tasks to you, the gamer, in ways that couldn’t be achieved realistically in everyday life.
What are simulation games?
Simply put: a simulation game is a game that replicates a series of tasks or events in real-life. It’s a wide reaching category that has its roots in the professional world: flight simulators are still used to teach pilots how to fly. The interesting thing is that the calibre of home simulations now rivals and exceeds what was possible in professional simulators that cost tens of thousands of dollars only a few short years ago.
Simulation games can also simulate scenarios–like SimCity (recently rebooted by EA) and Theme Hospital. The fun that you can have pretending to be a pilot, or a mayor, or a doctor is going to vary from person to person, but if they idea appeals to you chances are you’ll like Simulation games!
Top 3 Favourite Simulation Games available now in 2015
Here are my top 3 simulation games that you can play right now, along with one simulation game I’m looking forward to, and my all-time favourite simulation game.
One of the most popular racing series on the planet, Forza Horizon 2 for Xbox One is the continuation of the more open Forza Horizon series. This game packs in more than 200 cars from around the world, with tracks that span beautiful European landscapes. Released in stunning high definition, Horizon 2 lets you drive off-road vehicles, super-cars, muscle cars, and everything in between. It’s a game where you can race on tracks, or roam around in free driving growing as a driver as you do. There are hidden unlockables to find as you drive, and you can zip through shortcuts, drive through fields, or make your way through winding forests and roads. For the really adventurous you can race against planes and trains, and you “level up” for driving well and with style.
The simulation for driving extends to how you tune your car, and a full day-night cycle is present in game, along with weather effects like rain and snow. If you’ve ever wanted to get behind the wheel of hundreds of different cars, learning how they handle in a fun, arcadey way, check out Forza Horizon 2.
2. Farm Simulator 15
We’re sticking it out in Europe with this iteration of Farm Simulator for PC, Xbox One, and PS4. The whole idea of Farm Simulator seems a bit odd until you realize that many people will never get to experience what it’s like to tend and manage a farm past a few veggies in their home garden.
Farm Simulator 15 puts you in control of a tract of Nordic land. There’s a whole range of farming vehicles that you can play with, starting with tree harvesters, chainsaws and chippers, and moving on to big land movers, tractors, and so on. With a huge, open environment you can start by clearing your land, and deciding what you want to specialize in. You can focus on raising animals, raising crops, or–new for this version–raising trees in the new forestry economic branch.
There’s a full economic model built in wherein you can harvest and sell your crops or your animals and then re-invest the funds back in your farm. The best part? You don’t have to do it alone, as you can play with up to 15 friends either locally or online. If you think you’ve got what it takes to be the best farmer, you can prove it with Farming Simulator 15.
There’s something Zen about Animal Crossing. In this iteration of the game for 3DS you play the mayor of your new city, sent in to help grow the town, keeping residents happy, and building great new things that match your ideal of what your city can be. The game plays in real-time, with the sun rising and setting at the same time it does in the real world, and with seasons passing and holidays occurring when they should. There’s something cool about celebrating the holidays digitally with your citizens.
A town that you can manage as mayor in your pocket is pretty cool in my mind. Check it out.
Upcoming Simulation Game in 2015 to watch out for
Release Date: May 7th, 2015
Rated: E for Everyone
Genre: Racing Simulation
Project CARS is a crowd-funded realistic racing simulator for Slightly Mad Studios; it’s just been released for Xbox One, PlayStation 4, and Windows PC, with SteamOS and Wii U coming later this year.
Why should you watch for it?
It’s a sandbox game with an impressive physics simulation, designed to differentiate itself from Forza and Gran Turismo by allowing players to choose different motorsports paths, and giving immediate access to cars and tracks. It’s less forgiving than other simulators, but that’s a cool feature for anyone looking for more realism.
My Favourite Simulation of All Time
Tie Fighter. Seriously–it’s the single greatest space combat game ever, and yes I played Elite, X-Wing, and all of the Wing Commander games. A close runner-up would be Freelancer (and yes, I’ve kicked in for Star Citizen) but there was something so exciting about Tie Fighter, including dynamic music, secrete missions that you ran for the emperor, meeting then-Vice Admiral Thrawn, and piloting the ultra-cool Tie Advanced.
My suggestion? Pick up a joystick from Best Buy and go Google it. You can find it out there.