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Oct 22, 2011

Frenzied farming is so much fun

Farm Frenzy 3
Game Category: Casual - Time Management, Kids
Developer / Distributor: Melesta Games / Alawar Entertainment
Release Date: 21 Jul 2009
Rating: ESRB - Everyone

Farm Frenzy 3
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Melesta Games (Bulgarian-based developer) and Alawar Entertainment (Russian-based publisher), first came up with the idea of a time management farming game where you have to handle the rearing of animals and then sell of the by-products that you could produce from them.

They must have known they were on the right track. After the release of Farm Frenzy, Alawar Entertainment quickly followed up with the release of both Farm Frenzy 2, and shortly thereafter, Farm Frenzy 2: Pizza Party!

Farm Frenzy 3 may be their fourth iteration, but it's definitely not the last. In fact, I wonder when is the third series ever going to end; there have been seven more games identified under this name - Farm Frenzy 3: American Pie, Farm Frenzy 3: Ice Age, Farm Frenzy 3: Russian Roulette, Farm Frenzy 3: Madagascar, Farm Frenzy 3: Gone Fishing, Farm Frenzy 3: Ancient Rome, and Farm Frenzy: Viking Heroes. You can even get them together as a big mega-bundle if you wish (see review for details)!

But what makes this game such addictive fun? Come on along, and I'll let Scarlett show you the way. No, this ain't Scarlett O'Hara from Gone with the Wind, but a golden-haired farm girl who be helping out her friends in lovely farm settings all over the world.

After all tomorrow is just another day - Scarlett

The story in Farm Frenzy 3 couldn't be any simpler. There's a bad guy taking advantage of others, so it's up to you to put a stop to it.

You will assume the role of our heroine Scarlett as she travels to Africa to help her friend, Morris. It seems that the head honcho in charge of the Farm Union Nod is embezzling the organization's cash. It's therefore up to our plucky lady to win the votes from five different people whose farms are in dire need of help. If she succeeds, she will be able to take over and run F.U.N. for the benefit of farmers all over the world.

F.U.N.? If you ask me, that's a pretty quirky name for an organization. Anyway, let's take a look to see if the game play is any fun.

Scarlett listens to her African friend relate his dire story
Game Play
The concept of Farm Frenzy will be explained to you in the first few levels. You can just jump straight in to play the game. You will be greeted with tutorial information that will pop up to inform you of any new concepts, animals, buildings, or equipment you may encounter.

Every level features a wide open space where your farm animals will roam. Your farm animals need food to survive and this is done by clicking somewhere on the open space to plant some grass (or drop some fish). The farm animals will simply come along and start pecking at the grass. Blue dots below an animal indicate whether they are full or hungry. Over time, an animal will drop a resource - for example, a pheasant will drop an egg. You click on the egg to store it in your warehouse.

You represent Scarlett in the main game
You can find your warehouse at the bottom centre of the screen. Next to this building will be the vehicles that you use to transport goods to and from the city. You get to select which items you wish to sell off. If you wish, you could even sell your farm animals for cash. The road indicator at the top right shows the progress of your vehicle as it drives back and forth from the city. You get paid only when the vehicle returns to your farm. 

Next, we look at the objective for each level. Take a look at the screenshot below, it says at the bottom right that you must harvest 8 bolts of cloth, 3 yaks, and 10 geese. So far, I've already managed to acquire 2 yaks and 2 geese in the game. Once you hit a target (let's say you got yourself 10 geese on the farm), you won't have to worry about it any more.

Tip - This means you can sell off your 10 geese upon reaching the target. It's really up to you!

Yakety-yak, don't talk back!
At the top left of the screen will be the animals you can purchase for the level. The first animal will usually be an egg-laying mammal (like a pheasant, a duck, or even a penguin). The next one will be a large animal, like an ostrich or a yak. In case you are wondering, ostriches will drop a feather resource, while the yak will drop a wool resource. The third animal is a prized animal like a cow that drops expensive milk cans or a walrus that drops tusks.

The last two animals are always a dog and a cat. The dog is used to chase wild animals away, while a cat will help you pick up all the resources that are dropped by animals (for example, eggs, feathers, wool, milk cans, and tusks).

Tip - I found the cat to be extremely useful later in the game.

Quick, catch that polar bear before it's too late!
Wild animals need to be caged by you manually through many frantic clicks of the mouse, or (if you can afford the cash) you let your dog automatically chase a wild animal away. If you are too slow, these wild animals will "eat" any farm animal they touch. Wild animals in Farm Frenzy 3 include lions, and bears.

Finally, you would have noticed the other buildings surrounding the open space. There are three slots to the left and right; each of these can house a building. The slot at the top centre always houses a well. You need water to plant grass on the open space of your farm.

Buildings require a resource to operate. Once provided a resource, they will produce something more expensive in return. For example, the Egg Powder Plant building accepts eggs and produces powered eggs. When you provide your powdered eggs to the Cookie Bakery building, you get cookies in return, and so on. The more time spent processing, the more costlier will be the product.

I have loaded my truck with resources to sell in the city
Once you completed the objectives for a level, you will earn bonus stars depending on whether you got awarded a gold award, silver award, or no award. You then return to the map to select the next level to play. The map is divided into 5 zones (with about 19 levels each) as shown below. 

To move on to the next level, you must usually satisfy a prerequisite before you can play a level. Prerequisites are satisfied by purchasing the desired buildings and equipment from the shop using your bonus stars. You can always return to play levels you have completed before to earn more bonus stars.

An interesting cultural experience to boot...
The graphics in Farm Frenzy 3 are abundantly rich in colour and detail. The animals, buildings, equipment, and farms are all animated beautifully and should appeal strongly to kids. The storyboards are also wonderfully drawn (although I did spot a small graphical error at one point).

I should think that the strongest aspect of Farm Frenzy 3 would be the way the animals behave, they are such a delight to see as they waddle (or saunter) around, or eat the grass you plant at their feet.

The music in Farm Frenzy 3 suits the theme of the game rather well. The piece for the main menu is appropraitely catchy but I think I'd rather pass after hearing it at least a hundred times already. Each zone fortunately comes with their own music, but once again the music gets old very fast considering the fact you may be playing this game for hours on end.

Easy to get into... hard to let go
  • With 95 levels, and each level taking from three to twenty minutes to complete, this challenging game is going to keep you occupied for a long time (especially if you are aiming for a gold award in every level).
  • The graphics in Farm Frenzy 3 are truly a charm. The animation of the animals look very cute and lovely, the buildings "work" very hard, and even the wild animals (lions and bears) look like they are out to have fun.
  • The game has an impressive selection of farm animals, buildings, equipment, and resources.
  • The shop interface is intuitive to use.
  • The story is simple and fun, and our freckle-faced heroine is one spunky and cool-headed lady. I wouldn't mind continuing the rest of the journey with her in future releases.
  • There are a couple of nice achievement awards waiting to be won.
What should I buy next?
  • Farm Frenzy 3 may be too challenging for some casual players. There seems to be no way to change the difficulty level.
  • The Gold Award for most levels are very difficult to attain. 
  • It's very difficult to get resources later on. For example, some of the animals are so large (the yak, cow, and walrus comes to mind) that they hide the resource they drop. Or else, many animals may overlap each other until you can't see what resource is dropped beneath; it may be too late by the time they move away.
  • Unforgiving - a wrong click on the screen (eg. accidentally destroying a building) will set you way back; might as well restart the level if you were aiming for an award.
  • The game gets repetitive after you hit the five hour mark. You will soon figure out that only the farm, the animals, and buildings look different, otherwise game play is pretty similar throughout - make resources and earn the most bucks in the most efficient manner.
  • The game could do with more musical variety and might have benefited from a non-linear level system.
I could have sworn this was in the outback of Australia
Tip - To win the Gold Award for every level, you will likely need to pause the game, plan carefully, and then follow a process that will reap you the most resources at the best bargain before the time passes the mark for a gold award. Remember that you should not upgrade unless it is really necessary, otherwise you are just wasting your precious money.

Farm Frenzy 3 is one frantic game of time management that has you farming animals (some rather exotic, I should say) and harvesting their resources to earn yourself great cash and rewards. The game may be challenging for those seeking for the perfect score of a Gold Award for every level, but one thing's for sure, there's fun to be had for all here.

Now where's Goldilocks?
As the other Scarlett once said, "After all, tomorrow is another day". Well, if you start playing the Farm Frenzy 3 series, you may wind up playing the game for many tomorrows.

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Watch out, there's even a compilation of every Farm Frenzy game ever released (excluding the latest Farm Frenzy 3: Viking Heroes). This mega-collection will provide you with 850 levels of pure time management fun. You can also play Farm Frenzy online at Daily PC Game Reviews by following this link.
And, if you like to know, I can swear that my mind hears Gordon MacRae (or Hugh Jackman, if you insist) crooning "Oh What a Beautiful Morning" whenever I wake up in the morning and get to play myself another fun level from Farm Frenzy 3.

< - Grins - >

Daily PC Game Review Score: 8 / 10
Review Date: 22 Oct 2011


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