Strictly speaking, does the world absolutely need another Farmville clone? Probably not, but with so many of them out there, I’m glad that a few have taken the time to make really outstanding iPhone versions, like Farm Story.
While not quite as dynamic as Zombie Farm, Farm Story is definitely one of the smoothest and best looking farming sims available. The bright, stylized graphics are imminently well-suited to the iPhone’s small touch screen. Farm Story’s visual design isn’t especially original, but it is beautifully rendered and creates a look that is similar to, but definitely distinct from Farmville.
While you don’t get a friendly little farmer running around, the overall farming controls are beautifully smooth. I really appreciated how they remember your last action, so you don’t need to keep reselecting for each plot of land, and the touch controls work very nicely for navigating around the farm. Easily collapsed menus help preserve the limited screen real estate, and while scrolling through the many menu screens can get a little tedious, the actual scrolling mechanism works perfectly.
Farm Story’s social networking system may be my favorite for this sort of game, since it’s NOT on Facebook and doesn’t even require an email address. Instead, all you have to do is choose a nickname and then you are free to browse the community, visit other people’s farms, and add friends. Although you can’t water your own crops, you can visit other farms and fertilize or water their crops up to 5 times. Fertilized/watered crops give extra XP, so visiting other farms and leaving comments helps increase your chances of other people returning the favor.
Making friends and visiting farms also lets you see all the different kinds of layouts available and help you plan for the best looking farm. In terms of crops, trees, and decorations, the game has quite a lot of spiffy options available, no doubt with more on the way. Items cost coins and diamonds, although the cheaper amongst you may be dismayed to learn that you cannot earn diamonds, only buy them. That said, the game is now entirely free after starting out at $4.99, so it’s not worth complaining too loudly.
Farm Story doesn’t reinvent the wheel or even add any particular innovations, but sleek graphics, fluid controls, and Push notifications make this one of the best and most affordable farming sims out there. Unsurprisingly, the game is very repetitive, as are all farming sims, but if you’ve been wanting Farmville for the iPhone, Farm Story is most definitely worth a try.
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