Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Welcome to Addiction--Animal Crossing: New Leaf Impressions

Look, if you’re reading this to decide whether or not to get the newest installment of Animal Crossing, stop wasting time. Seriously, don’t read this...just get the game. It’s fantastic.

(Random Note: These pictures were taken with my 3DS camera at different times during the week and my avatar is darker in some shots because she got a tan.)

I won't call this a "review" since I've only been playing for a little over a week...not nearly long enough to give this game justice. You can't rush through the Animal Crossing experience. This game takes time. 
The old mayor passes wisdom to the new generation.
As soon as I saw the trailers for Animal Crossing: New Leaf, I knew I had to have it. I can't call myself a huge fan of the series...At the time, my experience was limited to AC: City Folk on the Wii and even though I enjoyed it, I must admit that it didn’t hold my attention for very long. 

And the city was boring. The main attraction of the title felt absolutely pointless.

But when it was revealed that your character could be mayor of your town and not just a really out of place human villager, I really couldn’t throw my money at Nintendo fast enough. When launch day rolled around, my wallet was ready.

I feel like everyone's attention has been focused on the new mayor mechanic. So, what’s it like being in charge of it all? Unlike the somewhat empty city featured in the previous game, your position in the local government doesn’t come off as hollow and unimportant. With the help of your adorable secretary Isabelle, you can transform your new home to fit your vision. Sit in your fancy office chair in the Town Hall and you can pass laws or “ordinances” that can affect the appearance of your town and the business hours that it maintains. Citizens will occasionally request “public works projects” that allow you build new landmarks. If you're tired of running all the way to the other side of town to get across the river, you can build a new bridge. If you want to get rid of weeds, just outlaw them and make your neighbors keep the place clean. While you don’t really “run” the city, you can make decisions that can really help support whatever delusions of grandeur you might want to hold onto. 

By "help" she means "do all the heavy lifting and paperwork".
You just point her in the right direction. 
Let me stress that these feelings of power you may have are “delusions”. You can only have one ordinance active at a time. If you want to have less weeds AND earn more money from selling goods (like me), you’re out of luck. Love public works projects? Isabelle quickly tells you the town only has the resources to work on one project at a time and you’ll find out that the bigger options are locked until your neighbors request them (which is a necessary evil for players like me who would run through all the options in days if given the chance). And if we're going to be completely honest here, the faithful Isabelle should really be the one in power...You just sit in the big chair while she’s the one doing all the work. 

I can't be mad she's sleeping on the job because she still works harder than me.
I came into work after 12. 
Of course, the other pieces of this game are even more charming than before. The villagers are slightly smarter in this game and you actually get the sense that they have lives (or something like that). Yes, they still wander around aimlessly most of the time...but they will actually use the tools they wander around with. Occasionally, they will plant and water flowers, go fishing, shake trees...I watched my neighbor Lobo stalk a grasshopper, bug catching net ready to go. He eventually moved on without a single swing, but the intent was there. A- for effort. 

Jay doesn't understand the connection
between fishing and the presence of fish.
Chatting with Lionel, I learned that Bob and Peggy got into a terrible argument and while I never learned what it was about, I found Katt trying to convince Peggy to apologize a few minutes later. Details like that make the animals in your village almost feel like real individuals...when they aren’t stuck walking into each other in an almost endless loop (once on their wandering path, they won’t change course for anything).

No wonder Bob got mad. 
The customization aspect of this game is deeper as well. You can decorate the inside of your house with furniture on the floor and the walls, but why stop there? Tom Nook’s new store allows you change the exterior of your home with mailboxes, pavement and siding. And if you play for a while, you unlock the ability to refinish and reupholster furniture to match your taste. (But keep in mind the original pattern on the piece. It will probably stay the same, even with the change.) After these last few days, I feel like I have only nicked the surface with what you can do in terms of interior design...

...But I feel as if that also has to do with the fact that you only get so many furniture options a day than actual depth. Anyone familiar to the series will understand the luck based interior design system; it's not a new concept. I can't help but think that I've been getting the short end of the stick in terms of the available selection of my stores. My house is just a storage closet at the moment, but I know that it won't last long.

The couch I customized looks better in Lobo's house than it did in mine.
I considered going into great detail with this post in terms of all the new and returning gameplay elements but I won’t because I think the charm is in discovering them for yourself (and after a week, I haven’t unlocked all of them myself). Besides, everyone is talking about this game. Avoiding spoilers is harder than finding them. But if you haven’t looked up information on this game, don’t. Just buy it. I couldn’t recommend this game hard enough even if I wrote this whole thing with caps lock on. I am completely addicted. There should be a support group for people with this problem (so we can all play together, of course).

Are you a fan of the Animal Crossing series? What do you think about New Leaf?

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