Goat Simulator – As We Play

Format – PC

Version Tested – 1.0

There comes a time in every person’s life when they have to make a choice. Whether that choice relates to the clothes they wear, the drink they consume or indeed games they play. Making a conscious choice that I wanted to play Goat Simulator for no reason other than it looks really funny and I’m in a silly mood, I grab my hooves, lube my tongue and bleat my way head long into an on-coming truck of a game.

It is clear from the start that the word simulator is added for comedic effect and one that resonates loudly in my head whenever I say it to myself. Simulator. Goat. Simulator. Goat Simulator. Baaaa!

I sit for a moment, looking at the menu screen and just watch the camera pan around our hero. The landscaping and design reminds me of skateboarding games of old and I’m reminded of a game I loved playing on the PS3 – P.A.I.N – where the aim was to fire a person from a catapult at different angles and speeds in order to destroy the landscape around. I get a similar vibe from the Goat. There is something surreal and just that little bit bonkers about all of this, and it might just be that I know what is about to happen?

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The controls are simple to learn, in fact, as the game loads, one of the opening screens kindly tells you nearly everything you need to know. Movement keys, space bar to jump, left mouse to butt, right mouse to, erm, rotate? What? The simulation ends right there, I think. This is no simulation, it’s pure crazy silliness.

The first port of call for me on many PC games is the options screen. I have to push the resolution and visual options up as far as my graphics card can manage. I’m happy to say that my card manages all the settings on full. though i’m not really surprised. Still, once set and restarted, Goat Simulator begins to look a lot better. I notice some interesting options while I’m here, such as a radio button for explicit content. What is that for exactly?

I click play and there in a field stands a goat with a tongue that doesn’t ever remain in its mouth. I’m a little giddy with excitement, I can’t wait to try this out. So, what do I do? I gently walk around the paddock, see another goat and butt into him hard, sending him propelling through air. It’s not a soft landing. He smashes through a fence, knocks over a human being and sends them tumbling onto the floor. The person squeals and my game begins.

I’m off. What to destroy next? Everything.

At first, the scale of what you can destroy seems rather staggering. Everything appears to be destructible. After a short while of play, as with most games, you get used to what tools are at your disposal. However, there is a small trick to keep you smashing and bashing, butting and batting. It includes, high scores, multipliers, higher scores, insane combinations, personal best high scores, secret areas, friends high scores, collectibles, achievements and global leader boards. No mean feat, but a small trick all the same.

Goat Simulator is a small game, and by this I mean there is currently only one area supported by the developers. It is true, though, that it is receiving a lot of support from fans and the Steam Workshop has many different mods for you to try out and enhance your goat-ing experience. I browse through these and chuckle at what is already available to download. There is some genuinely clever stuff.

 

Coffee Stain Studios are quite clear about what Goat Simulator is designed to do. You pick up and maybe play for an hour, then put it down. Perhaps then you’ll come back to it later when your mates come around so you can have a laugh. Sure enough, I can’t help but feel my goat simulation needs are quenched from my first session, so I step away, then come back and play it again the very next day. The novelty factor is still there, of course, but now I see the game for what it is: a destruction simulator, but one that only needs a little bug fixing to make it truly fabulous.

There are problems with it that make it slightly awkward and unwieldy at times. My main bugbear is the camera. It seems to tighten up behind you when you are in a building or near something. This makes it difficult to see what is happening. As a result, the view issue hampers your progress only a little, but it’s an annoyance. You can zoom the camera in and out of the goat’s position, but that’s only really applicable when the goat isn’t inside a building or near an object in the world. Other problems relate to ridiculously flamboyant physics and questionable collision detection. Sure, both of these two things are over-the-top and for good reason, but I wonder what Goat Simulator could have been if these aspects were handled differently. On the other hand, some of the resulting situations can be quite amusing, adding to the hilarity.

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Traversing the world is amusing. The goat, much like its real-life counterpart, can climb upon almost anything, which sees the animal end up in some really random, stupid places. The depth of what you can do is well devised and offers up the opportunity for some self-imposed challenges where you might see something and think, “I want to try doing that.” However Goat Simulator really is a game about wanton destruction, rather than providing the player a clear set of actions. Sure, it has challenges, but from my first play I’m none the wiser as to what I’m supposed to do or how I’m supposed to do it. This makes Goat Simulator as much about discovery and experimentation as it is about blowing stuff up.

There is currently no multiplayer due to the physics engine being the mainstay of Goat Simulator. The developers say it is too difficult to implement multiple human-controlled goats and allow them to appear on the same level. However I think there is room for trick owning plays by other players on specific things. I.e. how about a ghost-mode where you can follow what a friend did and then try and best their score?

Areas for Improvement

  • Camera view is too erratic and needs improving to make your goat easier to control
  • It’s far too easy to be thrown out of the playable area by the physics, forcing you to respawn.
  • When physics dictate, a building is blown up, yet parts of it remain. However you cannot walk on them and they obscure your visibility of other things
  • When climbing up things, you can appear to be standing a few feet above or away from it, making it hard to navigate around objects.
  • The addition of ghost mode or other “offline” multiplayer modes, that allows you to best your friends in hardened Goat Simulation high score combat.

Final Analysis

Goat Simulator proves to be great in small doses. It’s also a fantastic showcase title for showing off to friends. But i’m afraid that it may outstay its welcome if Coffee Stain Studios don’t provide more areas for people to discover. Fortunately, this appears to be their current position. Comparing back to another game, PAIN, in which the developers made new levels available over a period of time, this gave me continued incentive and made me want to go back in every now and then to see wacky new things.  However with Steam Workshop, people can create their own new areas with the tools available, so all is not lost, but who knows what the quality will be?

I will return to Goat Simulator in short bursts to learn more about what is possible. Given there are some crazy secret areas to find, it does keep the intrigue up for longer than I was expecting. Bugs aside, if you are after something stupidly crazy, zany and funny to play for thirty minutes while you wait for something else to finish, then Goat Simulator is quite possibly the thing you’ve been waiting for. Just don’t be surprised if the novely wears off fairly quickly.

Technical Competency – 6/10

Graphic Quality  – 6/10

Sound Quality – 6/10

Network Stability – N/A

Overall – 6/10

(These grades assess our playthrough, taking into consideration how many (if any) bugs were encountered, whether there were any interruptions in gameplay and the product’s final technical state. These scores, coupled with the Final Analysis and Areas for Development, are suggestions for future patches and updates which the developers could (and in our opinion, should) explore. These scores are separate to our DLC/Expansion Reviews but link into our Patch/Firmware Reviews.)

(These scores are not designed as a grading system to determine the entertainment value of a product and should not be treated as such..)

As we play offers the thought strands of the reviewer as they’re going through the game. This offers unique content for the reader so they can come to understand the conflicting feelings of the reviewer as they’re playing a game for the very first time. All feedback on this concept is welcome.