The original Goat Simulator launched way back in 2014, hitting out on an unsuspecting public. It was a game that fully embraced its flaws, seemingly almost revelling in them, making a virtue out of the fact that there were glaring bugs. To this day, it is one of my proudest Xbox Achievement completions, even if getting the “Flappy Goat” achievement did take me right to the edge of sanity.
What this meandering preamble is leading up to is this: There’s a new Goat Simulator game in town, Goat Simulator 3 no less, and no, you didn’t miss the second title in the franchise, this is the second. In fact, Coffee Stain Studios, the developers, have given various reasons for the numbering, but they aren’t important right now. What we need to find out is if lightning can strike twice – can Goat Simulator 3 recreate the magic of the first?
Well, normally at this point in a review I would talk about the narrative of the game. Well, this will be a short paragraph, as there isn’t one! This isn’t a drawback in what is basically a sandbox game, with the freedom for the player to go anywhere and do anything that takes their fancy. There is a cut scene at the beginning, and my top tip to you is to watch it to the end – if only as you’ll grab an achievement in the process. From there on out, it is up to your sense of adventure to choose what happens next.
So, how does the game present itself? Well, pretty much the same as the original Goat Simulator, to be honest. As we start the game, we are a goat, but as we go through the game, we get more and more options as to what we want to be. A scarecrow, a giraffe, or even a shark on a skateboard (this one is my favourite, as the animation as he scoots along is hilarious), and with many other bits and bobs of visual customisation to find and buy, you can pretty much make your avatar your own. At one point I was running around as a scarecrow, with an old lady in a rocking chair with a bazooka on my back. The game just got sillier from there.
With many and sundry goat related sounds to listen to, along with screams from hapless bystanders as they are kicked, butted and run over by a goat driving a truck (yes really), the design of the game is pretty good. The actual execution of the ideas, however, is still somewhat ropy, with various issues with clipping, glitching and graphical pop-in, along with a camera that sometimes struggles to keep up. In fact, it can be a bit messy graphically. But then again, it wouldn’t be a Goat Simulator without some issues, would it?
Gameplay is as varied as it is bonkers. One of the big things that Goat Simulator 3 brings to the table is a sense of freedom, and also more Easter eggs than you can shake a stick at. Not actual chocolate Easter eggs, you understand, but references and little nods to other games and films. I have found quite a few of these, ranging from a take on Wolfenstein 3D, via Counter Strike to a nod to the Megaton choice that you have to make in Fallout 3. Usually, these references end up with you getting access to some new outfits and possibly weapons, such as an iconic blue and yellow jumpsuit from Fallout.
Finding these things is a matter of exploration. The map that we explore is a huge one, with a good amount of different areas to find and explore. There’s a farm, a zoo, the countryside, the city and more to find. Driving around the place becomes very necessary, and while it isn’t going to give Forza Horizon 5 any sleepless nights, the mechanic works pretty well.
Goat Simulator 3 will try to help you, and when you find an area where a mission is available, the game will flag up to you that there is a mission available, giving a clue as to what you need to do. These can be helpful, like a mission called “The Big Red Button” where you are advised to find and press a button, to the more obtuse, with a mission where the objective is to take care of some seeds; I still can’t figure out what I need to do for that one.
The ways that you can interact with the game are a little limited, as you can headbutt or kick things, jump on them, or lick them. Licking items will enable you to pull them around and put them in other places, such as one mission where you are charged with starting some wind turbines, and they need batteries putting in them. Find a battery, lick it, then climb a ladder (well, why not?) and put them in the socket. And this is one of the more sensible missions, believe it or not. And what is the pay off for doing all these missions? Well, at the start of the game, you unlock a Goat Tower, which basically can be upgraded into a massive castle through unlocking different locks that open up new floors and rooms.
A big change this time around is the addition of multiplayer. You can add a variety of friends from the internet and play together, and this is absolute carnage. Obviously, playing with the cream of TheXboxHub’s review team, we were entirely professional and didn’t spend the whole evening laughing and running each over in cars, that’s for sure. Playing in multiplayer mode, the action can be just the same as the single player, with missions to find and complete, but there are some bits that are only available in multiplayer. These are mini games and the people in your party can opt in or out if they don’t fancy it.
The mini games themselves are varied, ranging from some rubbish ones, like “Hoofball” and King of the Hill, where you actually have to stand on top of a pile of hay bales, to some that are much more fun – a version of Hide and Seek where you have to lick an item in order to hide inside that item, and one party member is charged with finding where the others are hiding. This one is a good deal of fun, and pretending to be a cash register is surprisingly funny. Let’s just say that Goat Simulator 3 really comes alive in multiplayer mode, that’s for sure.
So, a conclusion is needed here, and it is a tough one. Goat Simulator 3 isn’t perfect, feeling rough and ready as you play. But this is what Goat Simulator has always been. With my cynical head on, it does feel a bit artificial this time, like the team of developers have tried to introduce bugs and glitches. It just feels like the game is trying to be quirky and zany all the time, rather than the bugs being organic. On the flip side, it is still fun solo and even more so in multiplayer.
If you liked the first Goat Simulator, Goat Simulator 3 is an easy sell. And if you never played it, then strap yourself in for a crazy ride.
Goat Simulator 3 is on the Xbox Store