Review: Tokyo Jungle
Sometimes a game doesn’t have to do much to sink its hooks in you right away. Tokyo Jungle is such a game for me. Literally after playing it for about five minutes I knew this really was something special. I wasn’t bothered by the dated graphics or the gated story progression. All I wanted to do was just unlock more and more animals, survive longer and longer and have my creatures look as ridiculous as possible in the process.
The world of Tokyo Jungle is a mystery when you first start. All you are told is that humans have totally vanished from the world. This leaves all of the pets having to fend for themselves, but they aren’t alone. Wild animals now roam free and even zoo animals are running amok. Before too long you will have your tiny Pomeranian facing off against lions and tigers… and winning.
Tokyo Jungle is split into 2 different game modes. There is Story, which has you playing out all the misadventures of different critters that now inhabit the urban jungle of Tokyo, and Survival, which is where you will be spending the majority of your time playing the game. Before you start in Survival you first have to select what animal you want to play as. There are two different paths that you can go down: Predator and Grazer. As you can probably guess Predators are a far more action-oriented type of animal. You will have to hunt to keep your hunger from reaching dangerous levels. On the other hand Grazers much be played with stealth in mind. Sneaking around levels, trying to avoid predators and eating plants. There are even boxes you can creep around in like a certain species of snake.
After picking your animal you are dropped into the overgrown, rundown city that is now Tokyo. There are some things for you do other than just eating. Tokyo Jungle has a challenge system that keeps the game fresh even after the 30th time you are playing. Each time you start you are given a list of randomly generated challenges that range from traveling to certain districts of Tokyo, mating a certain number of times or eating a certain amount of calories, among other things. Yes there is a mating aspect to the game. Each zone of the city has four different targets that you need to mark. After doing this you a given the option to mate in the territory. You will need to be wary of which mate you choose though. Mates are ranked from desperate, average to prime. You will want to level up your beast by consuming different amount of food before trying to mate so that you can take your pick. Mating with a prime animal will earn you a bigger litter and better stats, desperate females will give you fleas. Life lessons here. It is also worth mentioning that these stats will carry over through your different playthroughs. So if you play enough you can have grazers that even a dinosaur would think twice about messing with.
Having a bigger litter allows you to have more “lives”. When playing as a Grazer at any time you can press Triangle to drop one of you siblings behind you, which can be used in a pinch to evade almost certain death. Predators also have a similar ability that allows you to gang up on prey or foes. The challenges also offer a way to unlock new animals. Usually after completing a few of the challenges a special gold challenge will open up which allows you to find a new animal. Sometimes you will have to hunt the animal, other times you will need to steal its territory. Just like the regular challenges this is a unique way to unlock new content and it really kept me coming back to the game. Each animal unlocks the next, so you will want to play as many as possible to “catch’em all”.
Besides challenges there are presents and hidden data disks to find through all of Tokyo. The presents can offer some items that can be consumed to refuel or decrease the toxins in your body. They can even give you special items that you can use to dress up. So don’t be afraid to rock the school girl outfit and get some buffs for doing so. Data disks on the other hand are the way the game gets its narrative across and are the method used to unlock new story missions.
It can be a pain sometimes have to go the opposite direction of your current challenge to get these. Often times you have to go into dangerous areas to get them as well, with either fierce animals or toxic pollution slowly ticking away at your health. Which is a real problem in the late stages of your survival playthrough. Most of the time it wasn’t another animal that ended my life, it was the lack of food or pollution taking me out. The game will populate different zones with different amounts of food, so you will want to be constantly looking at the map to see where you need to migrate to. Many times this means having to endurance toxic environments for longer than you wish. Check out the video below to see what I am talking about.
When you eventually do die you are awarded all the Survival Points that you gained. These can be used to unlock different animals and they are also shared to the leaderboards. I can’t wait to score chase with all you out there on the Gazelle boards.
Story mode consists of 14 different missions that offer up a more focused set of requirements. Whether it be using a pack of beagles to take over control of a certain area, or using a hyena to sneak through a train station to gather intelligence for his nomad lion friends. There are some pretty funny cutscenes that are used to get the story across. Picture a dog talking to a bear about regaining his confidence. Yup that is Tokyo Jungle in a nutshell. Throughout this story mode many of the paths of creatures will overlap. The dog the beagles kickout will eventually come back to claim his territory but not before the hyenas take over. By playing the whole way through you will even find out what happened to all of the humans in this world. The only problem with the story mode is that is gated off. You will consistently have to go back and forth between this and Survival mode. You also can’t stack story missions so new data disks won’t show up in survival mode until the previous story mission is completed.
Still Tokyo Jungle is pretty much everything you expect it to be. It is off the wall insanity that you only would expect from Japan. The first time you take out an alligator with a boar you will know what you want to do. That is play more Tokyo Jungle.
A copy of this game was provided by the publisher for review purposes. For more info on our review policy click here. This review is for the PlayStation 3 version of the game.
What I Like:
- Randomized Challenges
- Each animal plays a little different
- Having stats carry-over through different playthroughs
- The CRAZY story and final boss
What I Dislike:
- Unlocking the story chapters can be a pain
- Some check-pointing in story mode could be better
- Lacks some visual polish