Farm Frenzy 2 Review—Moo-re Of The Same
About a year and a half ago, Alawar debuted on Minis with a port of Farm Frenzy, the first title in a long-running series of casual games on the PC. They’ve put out a handful of other games since (though not all that they have had rated for the ESRB, for some reason) and are back with a port of the second game in the Farm Frenzy line, Farm Frenzy 2.
Farm Frenzy 2 is not much different from the original Farm Frenzy. It’s a “time management” game which, despite the name, has you juggling several tasks at once on the playing field, reminding me somewhat of the old classic arcade games BurgerTime or Tapper. Not their specific gameplay so much as the overall feel, always hurrying to keep things going.
The core part of the game is almost really an animal-feeding game. You must keep your chickens (in the original, it was geese) fed by planting grass, and in turn, they will lay eggs which you collect. These eggs can then either be sold or, if you buy the right building, processed into egg powder. Then eventually you get to buy cows and pigs, who drop other products, which can be turned into other stuff by their respective buildings. Sometimes you can’t actually make certain products and instead have to order them via mail order.
Besides constantly feeding your critters and collecting what is being produced, you need to watch out for bears. In the original game, it was brown bears, but in this, there are several types, including a panda—which doesn’t make sense, since your farm doesn’t seem to be in China, and as far as I know, pandas don’t really harass farm animals, just lie around and eat bamboo. Maybe it’s a guy in a panda bear costume?
You progress through the game by completing levels. Each has a goal: produce so many of this, have so many of that, with a time limit of how long you can take to gather those things. The game gets awfully unforgiving quickly. The time management genre is definitely where the “casual” label is a misnomer. You not only have to be quick on your fingers, you have to have a plan and know exactly what you are doing.
The number of levels has increased (not sure how many, but a lot!), as have the numbers of buildings and critters for your farm. In between levels, you can use the stars you earn from completing levels to upgrade buildings or your car and plane (I don’t think you’re actually supposed to own a plane; it symbolizes the delivery method when you order stuff, I guess). There are also a number of achievements to earn, if you like such things. They pop up while playing, so they can be a little distracting.
The controls in this are a little twitchy. They work, but clearly this is an adaption of the iOS version. Even on the hints that pop up, it says “Tap” rather than “Press X.” The biggest problem is that when you try to collect eggs (or other products), it’s very easy to instead accidentally put down more grass seed. Not a big deal, but a little annoying.
The graphics seem to have changed from hand-drawn, cartoon-style graphics to 3D rendered animals converted to sprites. While easier to get the frames of animation, it does look a bit out of touch with the theme, though still somewhat cartoonish. Just the creepy sort of computer-generated cartoon. The sound effects and music are good. If you closed your eyes while playing, you could imagine yourself watching an episode of Hee-Haw.
When a sequel to a game comes out, or a numbered game in a series, there is always someone who asks, “Do I need to play the previous games first?” The answer is generally no, since that would just mean the audience for the game would get smaller and smaller. In this case, though, Farm Frenzy 2 really is one of those rare sequels in the video gaming world where you really do need to play the original. Not for story purposes, but to get a good grasp of how the game plays, as well as to refine the skills gained from the first game, especially as there really isn’t a tutorial, just some pop-up hints.
So basically, if you liked the first Farm Frenzy, you should like this. But if you didn’t, or haven’t played the original, well, this is probably too hard core for you.