I reckon I'm perhaps 2/3 of the way through the game at this point? I've reached Venice and have started doing some missions here. However, since I was planning on playing a lot, I've also spent time and resources upgrading the villa - to get more money faster - to buy all the stuff. This means that every now and then I have to go back to the villa to collect the cash (and drop off stuff) before heading out on a shopping spree. It gets a little bit tiresome to have to make your way back to the fast travel spot, travel, and then sprint some more.
I think I've reached the point where I can resist the temptation to go loot a chest when I see one close by on the radar. I (mostly) have enough money at this point... that being said...
1. I've started throwing coins around more often (those bards/troubadours are funny and annoying and it's the fastest way to get rid of them). At first I was like "these are really annoying" and then it turns out that's 100% why there were implemented. So, design was a success!
2. I've also started hiring people (mercs, thieves, etc.) to help me out. I didn't before because of the expense but now I'm much for friendly to the idea because they really make things easier. So, murdering some guards, fighting the rest and so on is just too much effort when they can be distracted and I can wander in to loot a codex page they were guarding...
3. There was a "back in the real world" interlude that was quite unsettling...in what it bodes for the future. I'm genuinely curious to know how the story wraps up. Perhaps a bit less so because AC2 had 2 direct sequels - but I'm not sure if they were really sequels? Or parallel stories? Anyways...
4. REALLY surprised to play an Altair (short) sequence. Wow, I did not expect the games to connect that way. I think the protagonist (in the real-world) is the same for both games - but still, I thought this was cool. If I understood things correctly, Ezio Auditore is somehow related by blood to Altair?
So far this game seems like a little unexpected gem. It's essentially a twin-stick shooter on the DS. With nice "neon-future" art and...a story? And...well, there's more stuff but I haven't played enough yet to tell. I've only played 3 levels or so - so there's a campaign progression that includes branching paths (top or bottom bath?). I'm not sure yet why I'd try one or the other and I also don't quite understand yet what the powerup system is like, how it works, and so on.
So my curiosity got the best of me and I went back to checking the African farm....and... it's the same game, just different animals. Instead of chickens that lay eggs you have parrots that "lose" feathers. You sell the feathers. The hippos, rhinos, and lions are fattened up to sell on the market! (ok, there might be issues with this market?). Oh, Zebras and Gnu's (I think?) give you milk! So, basically each animal does the same as the American farm ones...
I think I now know how to unlock the next farm - I just had to purchase all the stuff that's available (all the upgrades and have all the animals). The way the game frames it is interesting though, you get a message saying that you can go to an African farm - but to do that you need to quit (leave?) your current farm and start a NEW saved game - selecting African farm instead of American (previously only the American farm was available as an option). There are four different farms and only 3 saved game slots, so you'll have to sacrifice something at some point.
The game, at least the American farm, didn't evolve or change significantly - but if we think of it as a "busywork" kind of game where you're zoned out and doing all the little tasks - well, you can basically play forever simply accumulating more money and resources. Personally I don't see the point - but that's like playing Sim City and getting to a balanced city and just letting it run. Except here I guess there's always stuff to do (the animals won't feed themselves!).
I didn't get the sense that the African farm is any different - sure, different (non-farm!) animals, but the same gameplay. Just keep 'em happy and fed and then either sell them or sell their produce (eggs in the case of chickens). Actually, I should probably play that a bit - because WHAT produce do you get from the African animals? (coming from ignorance) and can you sell them at a market? I mean, there are rhinos and lions...so, definitely not for meat? Huh. Now I'm curious.
A few things:
(a) Lots of animals poop a lot - and I'm still surprised at how much poop I had to clean - and that it's part of the game's core loop. That seems gutsy (when it shouldn't, perhaps?) Or perhaps it's "know your target audience" and poop is funny?
(b) Man, those sheep get filthy SO FAST. Cleaning all the animals was neat. And then I got some pigs....it turns out you should NOT clean those. THey're happy when filthy. I scrubbed a few before noticing that the happiness bar had gone down for them!