E3 2012: Hands on - Tokyo Jungle
- — 10 June, 2012 22:00
"Do you know anything about Tokyo Jungle?" a nearby rep for SCE Europe asked me on approach.
"I've seen trailers, and pretty much gathered that it's about animals fighting each other and having sex."
"That's basically it," he laughed.
And indeed, that's what it is. Tokyo Jungle is a weird and wacky Japanese game set 10 years into a post-apocalyptic future in which humans have been destroyed and animals have inherited the Earth. People's family pets have gone feral, and they're all running around the city of Tokyo trying to survive amongst wild animals like pandas, crocodiles, and lions.
In the beginning of the game, you pick an animal - the default was a fluffy Pomeranian dog - and survive by stealthily making your way around the world. To go into stealth mode, you have to make your way into and around long grasses while no other creatures are looking at you. You don't have to hide from smaller enemies, as you can just run up and take a swipe with your paw to take them down, but with larger ones you want to perform a sneak attack.
Once you've made a kill, you eat it. There are also grazers in the game who only eat plants - to play as a herbivore is a lot more difficult than a carnivore because they're no good at fighting. When you're a herbivore, the key is avoiding combat and being really sneaky.
As you run around the city, your hunger meter goes down and years go by. If your hunger meter runs out, you'll start to lose life points, and eventually die. A crocodile's hunger meter will deplete more quickly than a chick's, but the crocodile is a lot more powerful and thus able to take down large prey.
But hunger's not your only worry - if you get to the age of 15 and you haven't attracted a mate, you'll start to lose stamina and die of old age. If you do attract a mate, however, you'll breed and be able to continue the game playing as your original character's offspring, just as you do in Spore. If you have more than one offspring, they can form a pack and run around making kills together. You attract a mate by making lots of kills and marking your territory - yes, this means your character pees on lampposts. You'll rank up, from Rookie to Veteran to Boss. If you become a Boss, you get your pick of your species to mate with.
As if this game wasn't weird enough, you can also find giftboxes with animal-sized clothing in them, and dress your animal up. Just in case you wanted your Pomeranian to beat the hell out of a hyena while wearing heart-shaped sunglasses. Aside from unlocking clothing, you can unlock extra animals to play with - there are a huge number of them.
Tokyo Jungle was the silliest, most unique game we saw at E3. Everyone who played it loved it for its flat-out insanity. It doesn't have the high production values of the many triple-A games on the market, and graphically it rates as okay but not great. But it's certainly different.