players who are sick of withered crops should check out Z2Live's and Bight Games' Trade Nations
, the newest town simulation game on Facebook. If you think FarmVille is hell, Trade Nations is like toiling in the Elysian Fields. This game is so cute, so easy, and so incredibly quiet, it doesn't even have its own theme, only sound effects. It's got an uncluttered look with simple, large icons and menus (a design that's probably due to its mobile origins). When you launch the game, a tutorial smoothly guides you until you reach Level 3. After that point, the hand-holding stops and you'll count on goals and captions to tell you what to do.
You'll do the usual click-and-wait routine with shops, logging camps, quarries, bakeries, and little workers who you'll boss around with chores. In that way, it's somewhat like a god game
. But your workers (who all have their own names) have no moods to watch out for and there's no system of punishment where you'll lose goods and gold, if you leave things unattended for too long. It's also gratefully free of the heavily criticized faux-social elements of soliciting the help of friends via Facebook wall posts or the annoying in-game, pop-up windows asking for real money to buy more virtual premium currency.
This isn't to say that it doesn't want money. There is a special premium currency in the game called "Magic Beans" that speeds up tasks for you and lets you buy items that are exclusive to people willing to open up their wallets. But the game isn't in-your-face about it and gives you plenty to start with.
Somehow, Trade Nations wants to foster a spirit of play without the competitive edge that drives monetization on most Facebook games. Granted, this game isn't a new face; it's a port from the iOS that's already found some success. So if you enjoy playing on your iPhone, iPod Touch, and/or iPad, that's how you may have heard of it. In fact, Z2Live has boasted 200 million game sessions
within four months of the game's mobile launch last fall
. Apparently, town sims aren't as populous in the mobile arena as they are on Facebook, so that novelty might've been a big factor in how the game works so well in the mobile space. But one has to wonder how such a low-key title is going to fare on Facebook, no matter how well made it is. If you're curious too, you can follow its popularity here
Click here to play 'Trade Nations' on Facebook now-->