Review: Tokyo Jungle
- — 16 September, 2012 22:00
|Name||Stealth action game: Tokyo Jungle|
|Summary:||Loads of ridiculous, animalistic fun.|
|Games Info:||Developer: PlayStation C.A.M.P., Crispy's, SCE Japan; Publisher: Sony Computer Entertainment|
The first of our animal instincts is to survive. The second is to reproduce. It's no wonder, then, that I took a liking to Tokyo Jungle, where staying alive and attracting a mate are the two most important things you have to do in the game.
Tokyo Jungle is probably the silliest game I've ever played. It's set in a post-apocalyptic Tokyo, where all people have been wiped out and only the animals have survived. As you uncover pieces of the story - and I use the word 'story' loosely, because it's not really a story-based game - you begin to figure out the why and the how.
In the beginning, you can control either a carnivorous Pomeranian dog or a herbivorous Sika deer in Survival mode. As a dog, you have to make your way around Tokyo, killing and eating other living things. Some are going to be easy to take on - like a rabbit, for instance - and sometimes you're going to see a lion show up in the corner of your screen and run the other way, all the while yelling, "Nope nope nope nope nope!" If you start as a herbivore, you have to find plants - which are a little rarer than other animals - and avoid the predators trying to eat you.
Regardless of which creature you pick, the goal is the same - survive for as long as possible. There's a meter running across the top of your screen that counts up the years, and it seems like they fly by pretty quickly sometimes. But there's a catch - once you get to age 15 or so, you get weaker, and hungrier, and then begin to lose life. In order to keep on playing, you have to reproduce.
Reproducing isn't easy, however. You have to avoid dangerous creatures as you make your way around a territory, marking certain points (yes, with pee). It's also beneficial to eat a lot of food - you can attract a better mate by consuming more calories and ranking up. A 'rookie' creature can only attract a mate with fleas, who will produce a mere two offspring, but a 'boss' creature can attract a more fertile mate who will give you a larger mob of progeny. Having more babies is beneficial for a couple of reasons - first, if you die you'll be transported into the body of one of your packmates, and second, you can order your packmates to attack an enemy if you're being beaten down.
As you while away the years, you have challenges to complete. Go to this area. Eat this many calories. Reproduce this many times. While that may not sound exciting, the challenges become addictive. Complete challenges and you earn points, which can be spent on unlocking new creatures.
Before you can do that, you need to complete a challenge to unlock the ability to unlock a new creature. And before you can spend the accumulated points on your new buddy, you have to complete a boss challenge. It's pretty much what it sounds like - you have to defeat a boss, and then you can use that creature.
Some creatures can also be bought from the PlayStation store, but we don't see the appeal - sure, you unlock one really powerful creature with one tap of an X button, but having a strong creature from the get-go seems like it would ruin the fun. Tokyo Jungle is not an easy game, and all the excitement arises from the risk that at any second you could be attacked by a croc and killed.
There are many ways to die in Tokyo Jungle - it's surprisingly well thought-out. If you get hungry, you start to lose life. This is complicated by occasional heatwaves that make the food go bad, and by toxic smog. Toxicity is particularly threatening, as it spoils both the food and the water, as well as slowly poisoning you.
As you make your way through Survival mode, you find little pieces of the story that unlock extra missions in Story mode. Story missions are generally short, but show you some of the game mechanics that you would never otherwise consider - like hiding under a dumpster. They're also generally quite fun, and serve to make the game even sillier than it already is.
For those with other gamers at home, there's also a co-op multiplayer mode, where you run around Tokyo together, fighting off bad guys and scrounging for food. At the beginning of the game, you're given three pills that will revive a teammate, so if you get a good strategy going you can survive a lot longer with teamwork.
Unfortunately, Tokyo Jungle falls down a little bit on the details. The music, at first, is a dance beat that goes hilariously with the content, but after a while you get tired of it. And everything is randomly generated, right down to the food supply, so sometimes you can make your way through large areas of the city without coming across anything you can eat. Because of that, there are random difficulty spikes at times, and the game is hard to begin with. The graphics are fine for an arcade title, but I wouldn't venture to call them 'great'. Or even 'good', really.
Tokyo Jungle is definitely different, and for a relatively cheap arcade title it's a sweet deal - I've put in quite a few hours and I'll still be playing it after this review is done. Many will dismiss it as too weird - and it kind of is - but sometimes weird is awesome.