GAMES - Review
09:00 - 13th August 2013, by Michael Dodson

Animal Crossing New Leaf

It's been a long time coming, but Animal Crossing: New Leaf is finally here. Cancel all appointments and make your apologies to your real-world friends - it's time to fall in love with Nintendo's charming life simulation all over again.

In the Animal Crossing series, you play as a human boy or girl who has just moved into a rural town populated by a small community of friendly animal villagers. To describe the aim of the game would be folly, as there really is none; there's a wealth of activities to occupy your time in New Leaf, and it's completely up to you how much or how little of them you do. Maybe your personal goal will be to expand and decorate your house, from the hundreds upon hundreds of items of furniture available (many of which, for the first time in the series, can be modified with your own pattern). Fancy yourself as a fashion designer? The clothing customisation tools in New Leaf are more advanced than ever before. Or maybe if you're a bit of a collector, like us, you'll while away the hours trying to catch every single variety of insect and fish native to your town. And if there's anything you don't enjoy doing, then don't - it really is up to you.

If it sounds like this could get repetitive rather quickly, the real joy of Animal Crossing is that it is based on your system's clock. If it's 6am in the real world, it'll be 6am in-game, and many of the villagers will still be asleep. Come back a few hours later, though, and your town will be bustling with activity. Snow covers the ground in winter and different types of fish are available to catch in the river and ocean. Load up the game on certain holidays such as Halloween or Easter, and you'll encounter special visitors with new activities for you to do. We'd strongly recommend downloading this title, as it's one you'll want to pop in and out of all year round without having to scramble for the cartridge.

Of course, much of what we have written here could be said about earlier Animal Crossing games, so what exactly is new about New Leaf? For starters, you now play as the newly-appointed mayor of the town, giving you control of constructing public works projects such as bridges, fountains and even some buildings such as a cafe in your town. You can also set town ordinances, allowing you control, for example, of shops' opening and closing times. In the brand new island resort area, you can play minigames and easily catch insects and fish that are usually only available in summer, all year round. This was one of the only sticking points for us, as these creatures make it a little too simple to earn vast amounts of money quickly, making hobbies like fruit harvesting rather redundant. Communication features are also much improved in New Leaf - as well as being able to join friends online, you can also visit other people's towns when they're offline by entering their individual code. The inclusion of StreetPass features also allows you to get a glimpse of strangers' houses and order replicas of any furniture they may have.

We've only scratched the surface of what New Leaf has to offer here, and by now you'll probably have an idea whether this is the kind of game for you. If you're an action game only kind of person, you'll probably want to steer clear, but for those of you who don't mind games with a more relaxed pace, there really is nothing better than this. Just don't blame us if it takes over your life!

A gem of a title that's different for every player, every time they play.
SCORE: 5/5
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