Tokyo Jungle Review

Susan Arendt | 2 Oct 2012 21:00
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Defeating boss animals unlocks them for survival play, which is a smart enough system, but a bit tedious at first. You start with just the Pomeranian and the Sika Deer, but Tokyo Jungle doesn't really feel like it's in full swing until you've unlocked about a dozen different animals, like the pig, porcupine, cow, chimpanzee, and beagle. The more exotic an animal, the more animals you have to unlock before it becomes available, so there is a certain correlation between effort and reward. You'll also uncover more and more archives as you play, as well as unlock new chapters in the Story Mode, slowly learning both the events that led up to the current day situation and how individual animals learned to cope with it.

What makes Tokyo Jungle so absorbing is how subtly it masks its difficulty. More dangerous animals move into Tokyo as the years pass, so what was a band of bunnies the last time you passed that street is now a crocodile or a pride of lions. Simply not getting eaten becomes such a large focus that it's easy to forget the other mechanics of survival, let alone completing the challenges before time runs out. What begins as a relatively simple pattern of eating and mating suddenly becomes a frantic search for claimable territory and desperate stealth operations. (Please don't let the tiger wake up, please don't let the tiger--aw crap!) Of course, the extreme ridiculousness helps the atmosphere from ever becoming too oppressive. It's hard to be tense when you receive alerts like "The great bunny of legend has come to Shibuya Shop District," "Monkey-dog relations have broken down in Shibuya Suburbs" or "A dinosaur has awakened in Yamanote Line East." (Yes, there are dinos in Tokyo Jungle, but I won't give away why.)

With its numerous unlockables and challenges, Tokyo Jungle is a game that's meant to be played over and over and over again, which is what ultimately may turn off many players. The core gameplay doesn't change that much whether you're a rabbit or a dairy cow, and the rewards are doled out so slowly that players used to more immediate gratification may find themselves frustrated by the pace. In order to get at the story, or even just more animals, you'll have to play round upon round of Survival Mode, and making it through an entire roster of challenges will take many hours of practice. It's satisfying if you're in the right frame of mind, but can feel like a grind if you're not.

Bottom Line: Tokyo Jungle is utterly ridiculous but wholly unique, blending challenging gameplay with goofy trappings. Putting a track suit on a housecat to increase its attack stat is a pretty silly thing to do, but the kind of attention to detail you'll need if you want to survive in the urban chaos. The mixture of absurd and serious is addictive and surprising.

Recommendation: Tokyo Jungle is perfect if you're looking for something fresh and engaging, and don't mind putting in some time before things really pick up speed. Also, if you don't see the appeal in roaming the streets of post-apocalyptic Tokyo with an attack crew of angry baby chicks, I'm not sure we can be friends.

This review as based upon the PlayStation Network version of the game.

Game: Tokyo Jungle
Genre: Action Adventure
Developer: Crispy's
Publisher: Sony Computer Entertainment
Platform(s): PSN

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