FarmVille iPhone diary: Day five on the farm

The same problems keep cropping up

FarmVille iPhone diary: Day five on the farm

Part five of a five-part adventure in the world of FarmVille. Click here for part one, here for part two, here for part three, and if you’re still reading by then, part four is also available.

With muddied wellingtons and pitchfork set to the side in my porch, a cup of hot cocoa in hand, and a seat next to the roaring central heating system, I can now reflect on my time spent on the farm.

But let’s answer the most pressing question first: No, I won’t be going back.

In fact, I’ve sold the land to a developer who wants to build one of its next game’s levels there, and I’ve sent the animals to slaughter (hey, you’ve got to embrace progress).

But before the abattoir van arrived, I had neatly arranged them in the one free square left on my farm. The line up consisted of a chicken, a pig, a sheep, and a horse, all of which could be harvested (chickens produce eggs, pigs truffles, etc.).

Whilst I initially thought this would add further depth, with new items to trade, the reality is that they are essentially just crops with different graphics – all interactions result in the automatic return of coins, and you aren’t able to stockpile any yields.

Any sense of depth engendered by the glacial pace of the game and myriad purchasable items is a superficial one.

And that sense of a broad but shallow experience is reinforced by both the absence of the FarmVille avatar that calls your Facebook farm home, and a dearth of information relating to the benefits (or not) of items in the market. For instance, it would be nice to know what items can provide beyond the listed XP boost and cash crop.

It’s clear that this app is intended entirely as an augmentation for your fully functioning Facebook account, and because of this it's unlikely to convert anyone who hasn’t already become obsessed.

This is, of course, no indictment of the app itself, as it fulfils the task it was designed for. But iPhone users hoping for a bespoke experience should let this lie fallow for a while, to see if future updates solve any of the issues the game suffers from.

The slow loading is perhaps bearable, but the inconsistent way in which the game syncs with its servers can be very frustrating (I've often loaded up to find that I am one or two levels lower than one my last session, despite having the same amount of cash and a farm ostensibly as I left it).

It should also be noted that a digit is no replacement for the scalpel accuracy of a mouse pointer, and as such, smaller items like the chicken can be hard to select.

So whether or not you decide to download FarmVille hinges very much on your existing dedication to the game. Existing players will find the portable access a great addition to the experience, but the rest of us may end up feeling somewhat hollow.

Even the surreal Rainbow Barrel gifted to me by Pocket Gamer’s very own Mike Rose isn’t quite enough to convince me to remain, and besides – I can think of far more exciting games in which to buy the farm.