What is it about watching progress bars fill up that's so satisfying? If there's one game known for its addictive properties in this regard, it's Zynga's infamous FarmVille series.
The original version of FarmVille 2 launched on Facebook back in 2012. Now it's back for iOS and Android devices with plenty of supposed optimisations saving both time and social spamming.
I have to admit, this is my first experience of FarmVille since the endless requests from the original version spamming me from all directions on Facebook put me off the original.
Upon starting the game I'm given the usual Harvest Moon-esque spiel about my having taken over a farm from my grandparents and how there are folks are around to help me should I need anything and yadda yadda yadda. The interface is welcoming enough - pleasant and straightforward. Select new crops, animals, and buildings you want to place on your farm, plop the plot down, then use the dragging motion to water crops, feed animals, or supply buildings with necessary ingredients to be rewarded with supplies.
Wheat is the lifeblood of FarmVille - make sure you have three patches. After planting some wheat and grinding it into flour I'm already on my merry way towards a fruitful harvest. But what's this? It appears that "farm keys" allow me to skip past wait times. Where's the fun in that? Coins, keys, and speed seeds are all available as IAPs in the game but the latter two are rarely required. I ended up spending most of mine by mistake thanks to clumsy fingers over tiny pop-up buttons. My first few crops - wheat, corn, and carrots - only take a few minutes each to fully regrow after a little sprinkling. Water appears to be infinite too - I only need to refill my watering can every 20 sprinkles. Farmhands spend the first hour or two of my playthrough showing me the ropes through basic tasks. "Whip up a cake for me", "sell this item on the Farm Orders board", "go visit a friend's farm", and so on.
Tasks encourage you to use the latest tech you've unlocked. Thankfully, each of these tasks rewards me with experience, necessary for levelling up and opening new areas. The first of which is Grandma's Glade, where I can send a farmhand off into the woods for 15 minutes to forage for blackberries, chives and... er... nails for the price of one country biscuit. It seems that the easiest way to earn experience for levelling up is by fulfilling orders on the Farm Orders board - a list of nine ever-changing requests for different crops or products that net my farm a little cash on the side to boot. At the end of my first day I already have patches of strawberries, carrots, wheat, tomatoes, and corn, two cows, two pairs of chickens, and a goat. The mill, dairy, and pastry oven are all in working order and earning me enough of a wage to purchase new patches of land as they become available.
Ah, the farm's shaping up nicely... but what's in the crate!? Just what will I unlock over the next couple of days? Day 3: Meeting the community Two days of mooing notifications have been attracting odd looks from passersby, but how else am I meant to know when my Mint Chip Cookies are ready? A sheep's joined the farm to provide me with wool in return for valuable tomatoes, but the major additions to my farm are workshops: a stovetop for making soup and searing trout, a dinner oven for baking potatoes, and a loom that somehow allows me to fashion wool into jeans. I can now send my farm hands to Pappy's Pond to fish for trout, bass, and, of course, barn padlocks. This takes eight hours, but is usually worth the wait for the pretty penny each fishie nets from the Market that's opened up, allowing me to sell bits and bobs for plenty of gold. I've joined a Japanese online community that had one spot left. People there are quite happy to help me storm through the production process with speed seeds, helping hands, and even "friendship fertilizer".
Manufactured and baked items sell for much more on the market. The market for trading has become invaluable to playing. From the community button you can buy crops, crafts, and tools from friends, your community, or random players. This drastically reduces the time it takes to pass certain quests if you want to focus on earning experience rather than cash. I can see there's still plenty more to unlock, but I can't quite put my finger on what keeps me coming back outside of my addictive personality. Day 7: Prized possessions I'm at the end of my tether now, really. I've unlocked Eagle Eye Eddie, a pilot who requests different goods every day. If you collect everything he asks for in time he'll reward you with experience and a stamp. Stamps are used to purchase prized animals that you can earn prize ribbons with. These prized ribbons can then be converted back into coins, stamps or keys. It's all getting a bit cannibalistic.
I now have a prized cow and a beehive. What more could I need? I can see more areas around the map to unlock - a mine, restaurant, fishery, and lighthouse. Plenty more to harvest too - even crabs! While the first few days with FarmVille 2: Country Escape were almost fever-inducing in their addictiveness, my interest has waned as the wait times have increased to hours rather than minutes. In the end, the illusion I once entertained that this is a game has now been shattered. How are you getting on with the game? You can tell us and the rest of the PG community about your experiences by leaving a comment in the box below. Click here to learn about our free-to-play review policy.