Animal Crossing for Nintendo's 3DS is hard to outright recommend. Depending on what you look for in a game, Animal Crossing will give you an experience you will love, enjoy, or hate. I know my ass is sitting firmly on the fence with that statement, but please let me explain.
Quick disclaimer, I have not played any Animal Crossing games before this one, so I was going into this game completely blind, and therefore can't judge if this game against its previous instalments.
After performing the initial setup of your town and character, you will be named the mayor and be presented with a simple tutorial to get you started in the world of animal crossing. The game does a great job of holding your hand for the first bit without being too annoying or simple. As a new player, I was comfortable with the game out of the gate, it does a good job of showing you the ropes. After learning the ropes, what you do next is really up to you.
Animal Crossing's greatest strength and weakness is that you are responsible for your own goals and objectives. The game really doesn't pressure you do accomplish anything. Well, it will nudge you towards completing objectives for modest rewards, but you are responsible for choosing what you want to do. For example, you can spend the day looking around for collectables to complete your museum, spend time building relationships with the residents of your town, collect valuables to sell to expand your house or town, and many other things, it is totally up to you.
There is no beating the game, well you can collect everything/own everything, but the game features so many items that it would take a lot of time to do so. I've put 70 hours of playtime and feel as I’ve still have a lot of new items to discover, my house is not fully upgraded, and my collections are not complete. I found the best experience is to boot up the game for a half hour a day, do some minor tasks to gain some money to spend upgrading my house or my town.
A large part of Animal Crossing is collecting numerous things in your town to complete the game's various collections. The town's museum houses all of the art, fossils, insects, and fish you find as you play the game. You can fill these exhibits in your museum by performing a number of activities in-game such as fishing, bug catching, fossil collecting, etc. If you are a completionist, look out, as it is rather addictive to try and collect everything in the game. If you are not a fan of collection quests in other games, I would suggest avoiding animal crossing, as it is a large part of the experience.
Besides collecting, you will spend time building relationships with your neighbours, expanding your house and customizing it with goods and furniture, and beautifying and customizing your town as you see fit. Random events will occur as you play the game. For major holidays, like Christmas or Halloween, your town will usually have some sort of seasonal celebration for the day. Weather will change depending on month, and random things such as town wide fishing contests and other surprises keep the experience fresh and fun.
What I appreciated most about Animal Crossing is that it is such a relaxing experience. It is a nice part of my day to take half an hour for myself and disconnect from the world and relax in my town. Nintendo has done an excellent job with creating a mellow setting. The music is excellent and fits the mood, the graphics are well done and are bright and friendly.
Animal Crossing really shines at letting you customize your town. By creating your own patterns, or finding user created patterns from the internet, you can change the look of your character/town by using patterns to create new clothes, paths, and many other things. If your curious, do a quick internet search for "animal crossing new leaf patterns" and take a peek at all the customization you can do. It is a really cool feature.
While I found most of the game polished and pleasant, there where a few things that I didn't like. It gets really annoying hearing the same lines of text dialogue from all the shop keepers in your town. They say the same few lines of crap every time you talk to them and it adds about 30 seconds to transactions at shops or adding items to your museum.
Also, things do get a bit repetitive. There is only so much to do in the game. There is a almost endless amount of things to collect and find, but the activities to obtain them are not vast, and the game-play around these activities is not deep. What kept me playing was the quest to collect money to expand my house, and the addictiveness of trying to complete my museum.
Call me dumb, but I just didn't understand how the multi-player system is supposed to work. I poked around with some of the features, but the game did a poor job of presenting what I was doing. Eventually I just gave up on the multi-player features and treated the game as a single player experience. I'm sure with some research I could figure it out, but it would be nice if the game presented the online features in a more understandable way.
Animal Crossing has a mini-game island that you can travel to do play mini-games for various rewards. The games are fairly simple and a bit of a bore. I tended to avoid them after awhile as they just are not fun and the rewards are not amazing. I do love the little turtle guy who ferries you to the island. The songs he sings to you are great and if you play as a female character, some of the stuff he says to you can be quite suggestive and pretty funny.
If you are new to the series, and the positive points of this review make you interested, I would strongly suggest trying it out. On the other hand, if you not interested in the game, and nothing in this review peeked your interest, then I would suggest avoiding the title. Pretty simple eh?
If you are experienced with the series, I would suggest seeking additional opinions from people who have played previous instalments. Having not played them myself, I can not determine how much of an upgrade new leaf is and if it is worth a purchase for you.
Animal Crossing, New Leaf is a great little unique game and I'm glad I took a chance on it. I've enjoyed my time with the title, and while it is not perfect, it is pretty great at providing a laid back, relaxing experience.