Zynga could very well have created a monster, its own Clash of the Titans. The creator of FarmVille has done both the unthinkable and much anticipated: create and release a successor to its most iconic social game, FarmVille 2. This invariably sparks the ultimate question: Which is better?
Sure, each version of the hit farming simulator has its own bullet points, but there can only be one victor. Welcome to Facebook Game Face-off, a weekly event in which we pit two similar Facebook games against each other based on three criteria, and leave it to our readers, the players, to decide. Ring that dinner bell, ref!
In some ways, they are. FarmVille, even at its inception, wasn’t exactly the most gorgeous web game around. Three years later, and while it has vastly improved visually, this old timer cannot let go of its age. That said, FarmVille has a certain charm that’s unmatched in Zynga’s other games. Players arguably come back for the recognizable, adorable critters and characters more so than anything else.
FarmVille 2, of course, offers a digital farm that’s filled with more life than anything seen before on Facebook much less in a Zynga game. Crops and trees sway under your mouse, while farmers wave and animals react at your “touch”. Graphical touches like these make FarmVille 2 feel more alive for sure, but it’s missing some of that charm that FarmVille is so well known for. Perhaps it’s a matter of time.
FarmVille is often mocked for its farming system, for its lack of realism. And the hecklers are right: Why is it that planting strawberries produces coins? Frankly, because it works for the intended audience. Three years ago, social gamers didn’t give a hoot about realism or depth, and some might argue they still don’t. But, at the very least, it’s time to try for more depth, to try and see whether it’s time.
That’s where FarmVille 2 comes in. The cycle of farming to feeding to crafting, baking or selling simply makes sense–at least more sense than before. It’s a cycle that both the seasoned FarmVille fan, and perhaps a more seasoned gamer in general, can appreciate. Hopefully this sparks a trend in other casual simulator games.
Let’s just face it: For most, FarmVille quickly became nothing more than something else to keep up with. Zynga quickly mastered the art of evoking that sense of “keeping up with the Joneses” with a constant drip of content updates. It was a strategy that worked and still does, but how many players find that fun?
With FarmVille 2, at least so far, the fun lies in the game’s deep crafting (or baking) system. There’s also fun to be found in expanding one’s farm and learning what it has to offer–what does the next combination of ingredients create, and how do I get them? Perhaps its simply the freshness of a new FarmVille, but Zynga has the golden opportunity of keeping this feeling alive, and that will be what ultimately separates the new from the old.