Animal Crossing: New Leaf is the kind of game that just keeps on giving. As the latest entry in the Animal Crossing series, this Nintendo 3DS title does little to change the formula of past games, but it does manage to push the series forward.
If you’ve never played an Animal Crossing game before, here’s the situation: Set in a small town, players take control of their customizable avatar and set out on creating their new life. You are but the single human in a world of animal denizens. Take out a loan to buy a house, design your own clothes, go fishing, chat with neighbor, donate your treasures to the museum – the list of possible tasks and goals goes on and on. The series progresses in real-time, adding to the calm pacing and allows for charming events, such as celebrating real world holidays.
Animal Crossing: New Leaf doesn’t change this formula. It is a slow-paced life simulator. There are no missions; there is no enemy. The prime objective is what you make of it and that’s definitely the appeal.
What New Leaf does change is the way rewards unfold and, consequently, how it keeps players coming back for more. Players now assume the role of town mayor. This gives a more tangible sense of responsibility and some more structured objectives.
Public works projects will now allow players to actively change and improve their town, giving a more engaging and dynamic experience. Need to build a more convenient bridge? Lay down a new path right where you want it. Can’t make it to the shop in-game because your real life schedule gets in the way? Enact an ordinance to change when shops open and close. These new abilities add a satisfying progression system that the series hasn’t known before. Additionally, characters old and new are unlocked as mayoral duties are successfully completed. These new options up the incentive to keep playing and makes the game that much more addictive.
These features create a compelling single player experience, but today’s gaming landscape demands multiplayer and New Leaf delivers. That latest entry allows players to connect and visit each other’s towns, enabling a variety of new tasks. Players can trade items, pattern designs, meet new neighbors and, for the first time, complete in mini games together. New Leaf is the sort of game that can be played alone but begs to be experienced together. Progress is aided to such great effect when played with friends that it is almost discouraging not to connect with others. Besides, a great deal of fun comes from the satisfaction of showing others how you’ve plotted and managed your town.
Animal Crossing: New Leaf won’t change any preconceived beliefs you may have of the series. It does, however, offer a solid set of fun and engaging mechanics that will have you coming back for more. Strategic elements are added without throwing out of whack the hallmark simple-life feel the series is known for. New players will be enthralled by the wealth of possibilities available to fashion their idyllic life. Returning players may be a bit less engaged as the series remains the same at its core, but the new duties as mayor may proof enough to make the series seem fresh. Addictive gameplay, satisfying progression, and the integration of real-world holidays will have players of either category reaching for their 3DS day after day, month after month. The bottom line is this: if you’re looking for a well fleshed-out break from the traditional action-fueled game, Animal Crossing: New Leaf has you covered.