Tokyo Jungle review
The freaks in the streets, the nuns with a shotguns.
I don't know if it's just me or anything, but I've been pretty unimpressed with Playstation 3 exclusives this year. Journey was pretty cool, but the rest ranged from mediocre to somewhat good. Then I picked up – or rather, downloaded a copy of Tokyo Jungle and, a couple of hours later, actually found myself really enjoying my time with it. It's one of those games that manages to make do with what it had. It had a smaller budget and there are a few things that could've made this a rather middling experience on their own. But the immersion factor can turn a mediocre game into a good or even a great game if done right, and you bet Tokyo Jungle gets this one in the bag!
Survival of the fittest and there ain't no pity.
While heaps of games are all into the apocalypse and what happens afterwards (Fallout 3, Darksiders, Enslaved), most of them tell tales of humans who survive and, against all odds, conquer their wastelands.. or journey to the west or whatever. No such luck here, guys – humanity is all wiped out with the other animals to roam freely around the world. For the most part, Tokyo Jungle is about each of the animals fighting for survival in the deserted streets of Tokyo by looking for food, family and/or territories. But there is a story to cap it all off that which goes on a bit about humanity's extinction. For what it's worth, the story works, but only in a way that justifies why you do what you do. Nothing ultimately special, which is a bit of a shame when you consider that the last story had the potential to be pretty cool... oh well, the rest of the game has a serviceable story so you can't really be too disappointed.
In the concrete jungle, it's the well of the damned.
Besides, the Story mode is locked up tight, but not to worry – Survival mode to the rescue! Like most games these days, the Story mode isn't the main attraction anyway as that basically consists of a set of missions for a fair few types of animals. Survival mode is where you'll spend the majority of your time as there are online leaderboards and there are heaps of collectibles that at least clue you in on what happened to humanity... that will open up the Story mode. Either way, the general idea is to find some territory to mark with your piss, eat, mate and not get eaten. Once you get that done, you can produce some offspring to keep the species alive. But you'll be constantly playing the odds as there will be unexpected food shortages, environmental disasters and surprise predators. All of that adds up to an experience that makes it feel like you're an observer of a post-apocalyptic world while you basically play god with one animal's life.
Step inside and then you'll understand.
But let's talk about what makes this game work. Depending on what kind of animal you play as, you'll either play Tokyo Jungle like an action game, a stealth game or a hybrid of both. For instance, lions and bears are big, mean and tough, while deers only have their speed going for them. Puppies and hyenas, on the other hand, will have to sneak around to take out the big bad wolf pack down the street. Playing as carnivorus animals – whether you're a hyena or a lion – will have you hitting and maybe running so that you don't get *bleep*ed up. Combat itself is simple enough as you're only given a couple of buttons, like a swipe button for a quick attack and a bite button for a heavy attack. It works out pretty well when you consider that you're fighting for survival and not just to *bleep* demons up like Devil May Cry or whatever.
Not every animal can fight head on, though - here's where the stealth comes into play. You basically sneak around sleeping animals so that you can either eat whatever plants you find, mark territory or take down animals without them noticing. A lot of it comes down to crawling through a patch of grass or slowly walking around potential predators. It's something that's pretty basic as it's based on sight – I guess animals have gotten deaf over time or something, but in some instances like the story mode, you'll be glad it's based on sight. See, during the story mode, you'll have to engage in some platforming, and just jumping around is weird, like it moves a bit slower with more upward momentum than the animations move. Putting that with stealth means you'll need to time that shit with real finesse.
Helping you out will be some stats. As you complete challenges or eat your kills, you'll gain experience points, which will let you level up and increase your stats. Challenges like taking down other animals and marking specific territory help give you an idea of what you should do during the Survival mode beyond simply surviving, and the rewards you reap will help make things easier. How? Breeding. If you have high stats, you'll attract mates who also have good stats – and conversely, if you're shit, you'll attract some mangy mutt. Breeding will give your offspring roughly similar stats and maybe the traits and abilities from their parents, meaning that your offspring will be even stronger. What that means is that your offspring will have a better chance of taking down stronger beasts than you could, especially since they can hunt in packs with you.
Misfits, psychos and the twisted slaves.
The graphics are pretty hit and miss. On one end, the textures are very much like something out of a PS2 game. It's not the sharpest cookie in the jar – in fact, the environments have blurry textures. Plus, there is the occasional pop up issue, like when buildings magically pop up. There also isn't much in the way of nature taking over... like there are some grassy patches here and there, but even over a course of many years, not much if anything changes in that department. It's still mostly buildings and roads. It's not quite as well polished as it could've been, but eh, low budget games tend to have that going for them. On the other end are the colors, which certainly make it look like you're in a post-apocalyptic Tokyo. At first, there's still some liveliness, but as the years (or in our case, minutes) go by, it's dull, it's depressing, but that's just how the world is at that point. The animals also look like their real life counterparts, and the lighting works well enough to simulate the time of the day. It's an aesthetically pleasing game with some lackluster textures.
The music is pretty mediocre. It mostly consists of a synthesizer with a techno beat being played on top of it every now and again. That, or just the synthesizer. It's supposed to simulate the feeling of being in a desolate wasteland with the threat of death looming over you, but all it really does is exist. Sadly, that's all that can be said about the sound design... well, besides the animals sounding like they should. Eh.
No one gets out; they're ready to die once again.
Tokyo Jungle is just a great game with all things considered. Slightly laggy controls and mediocre textures aside, Tokyo Jungle is the kind of game that immerses you into its environment and lets the gameplay work its magic on you. That's what a game ought to do, especially one that seems rather mediocre upon first glance too. Then you get the idea that Tokyo Jungle is one that's meant to be played over and over again to unlock more animals for Survival mode and beat the world, and then you let your guard down for a second and from then on, you'll be hooked. Then you'll thank me, because this is just a sick *bleep*ing game!
On their own, the elements are decent, but put together like this, it manages to work out pretty well.
The jumping is weird, but everything else works well enough.
It works, but it's not all that captivating or anything. Old school in flavor. Had a cool concept, too.
Textures and pop in are very low budget, but it looks good otherwise.
Mediocre music and working sound designs... eh...
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