Monday, November 17, 2008

Animal Crossing: City Folk impressions

After waiting since City Folk's announcement back in July, gamers all over North America finally have the latest Animal Crossing in their hands. I actually managed to grab a copy on Saturday, beating the street date by a whole day. Sure, not as drastic as some peoples' experiences, but it was still pretty notable. Anywho, I've played this game for many, many hours so far (Over three hours today alone), and while I'm not quite ready to write up the review, I can certainly give my impressions.

The main place where I've noticed some change is with the fish. First off, they're no longer 2D sprites moving around under the water, but full, 3D models that wiggle around far more realistically than in any previous Animal Crossing. Fish seem a little more rare, though, and catching them seems to have become more difficult somehow.

Related to the fishes being graphically upgraded, everything in game is now a 3D model instead of a 2D image. While it's a minor touch, it does add a new level of polish to the game. The fact that the flowers actually have some depth to them also makes it a little tougher to find a bug sitting on top, which is pretty cool.

Of course, the most notable addition to City Folk is, well, the city. Accessible by bus, the city is basically a collection of many visitors from the previous games. Crazy Redd, Katrina, and Dr. Shrunk all call the city home, and even Shampoodle (The hair salon that was set up in Nookingtons in Wild World) has moved towards the bright lights of downtown. There are also a few exclusive features to the city, such as a fancy (And incredibly expensive) store run by fashionista Gracie, the Happy Room Association (Or HRA) headquarters, and even an auction house that uses WiiConnect24 for friend-to-friend bidding and selling. While the city isn't all that it could have been, it's still nice to have.

Also added to City Folk is the ability to take your own screenshots at any time. Conveniently mapped to the 1 button, you can take a screenshot just about whenever you want, even in the middle of a conversation. Below is an example:

While there's a slight quality drop in the conversion (Some jaggies and JPEG "artifacts" are common), it's still an amazing tool to have at your disposal. The photos can be saved directly to the SD card, making it very easy to share them online (As I am right now).

As for new items and furniture, the aforementioned high-class store in the city sells two new furniture sets, but they're certainly not for the faint-of-wallet. I've also caught a couple lobsters in my few days playing (As well as had a friend come over and steal one...), and they're 100% new. Pretty sure the bagworm is, too, but I'm not sure.

I've gone online a couple times so far, visiting two towns and having my town visited once. I've experienced no lag at all (Even when visiting a town in Saskatchewan), and had a generally good time messing around with a couple online buddies.

Overall, I'm enjoying City Folk so far. No, it's not drastically improved or significantly different from Wild World, but so far I'd say it's worth the buy for any Animal Crossing fan out there looking for something with a little more. Tune in later this week for the full review, complete with WiiSpeak notes, thoughts on the motion controls, and more in-depth information on everything mentioned in these impressions.

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