There's something to be said for owning a farm. You get plenty of fresh air, there's lush nature all around you and bluebirds land on your shoulder to sing for you while you happily go about your business. On the other hand, there's mud, hard work, droughts, locust swarms and not a single opera house in sight. Luckily, there is a middle ground: if you're curious to know what it's like to be a farmer, but you don't want to ruin your new shoes, here's TV Farm 2, the new time-management farming simulation from A2 Entertainment.
The story goes like this: you are taking part in a reality show with a bunch of other contestants. You are given five farms one after another, each in more difficult conditions, and the goal is to make them all thrive by completing various tasks. If you succeed, you get your own farm (provided you aren't sick and tired of agriculture by the end of the competition). You are given your first location and a few workers and you're left to your own devices. The gameplay is simple enough – at the beginning of every level, you have a list of available resources and requirements. Each stage is equipped with a field where you plant your fruits, veggies & other leafy stuff, as well as a number of buildings which use resources to make all sorts of products. Finishing the level within a time limit will get you more points for upgrades. To do this, you must quickly develop a course of action, which includes planting, constructing and sending out a helicopter to get you the items you can't produce yourself.
TV Farm 2 is a casual sort of time-management game, meaning that you do have a timer, but the gameplay isn't as bustling as you'd expect if you've played other farming simulations. It's fine if you decide to put your feet up, forget about the time and just try to build and upgrade all your assets before moving on to the next level. Your crops stay put until you decide to harvest them; the finished products are automatically transported to the warehouse, so you don't have to worry about them disappearing if you don't pick them up quickly enough. Some levels might feel a bit too slow, but it's still a welcome addition to the genre for those of us who prefer a more relaxed pace. The different settings for your farms ensure variety and challenge, as every farm has its own types of plants and products, so you'll be making ice cream in the oasis and teddy bears at the North Pole. What really sets TV Farm 2 apart from other similar games are the graphics, which are crisp and clean and more realistic than cartoonish. It's a joy to watch your sugar cane swaying in the breeze and your workers collecting flowers to make perfume. The buildings are a little more silly, but also quite imaginative – you can become mesmerized watching a machine put decorations on a Christmas tree.
TV Farm 2 feels entirely wholesome and organic, from birds chirping in the background to juicy tomatoes ripening in the sun. It's pretty much what we thought farms were like when we were kids, all shiny new trucks, fluffy sheep and hamburgers being churned out of magical buildings (in one word, awesome). And although playing it probably won't convince you to move out into the country, it will give you hours of healthy entertainment and it will keep your fingernails clean.