There are only a handful of games out there that allow you to play as real animals. There are some games that feature humanoid animals such the famous Sonic the Hedgehog series and Crash Bandicoot, although very few games make you see the world through the eyes of a real life animal. Tokyo Jungle for the Playstation 3, is one such game that allows you to be a number of different wildlife as they try and survive in a world devoid of human life.
The game is set in a dystopian future where humans have all died out and all that is left are animals roaming the streets of Tokyo. Pets are left alone trying to find food for themselves while all of the zoo animals free to roam wherever they want to. With a mixture of both herbivores and carnivores free to run all over Tokyo, it becomes a “survival of the fittest”.
One of the best things about Tokyo Jungle is the number of playable animals that are available in this game. All players start off small as you can only be a miniscule Pomeranian dog or a Sika deer at first. The more challenges you complete in the game’s survival mode, the more animals you will be able to unlock. This includes a mix of animals from all around the world such as a lion, tiger, elephant and even a velociraptor! Some more elusive animals are only available to buy from the PlayStation Store such as an alligator, a panda and others.
If you ever wanted to know what it was like living like an animal, Tokyo Jungle is the only game that will allow you to live this experience vicariously. I remember an old Simpsons episode where Homer said that all that animals do is “sleep, eat and mate”. These three fundamentals of all life is the entire basis of this game as you will need to eat constantly and reproduce offspring if you want your species to survive the harsh conditions of this desolate Tokyo city.
The tutorial is a great introduction to the game’s controls and overall premise. As aforementioned, you have the chance to play as both carnivores and herbivores and obviously each of them feed on different kinds of food. As a carnivore, you have to hunt for your own food. You can do this by stalking your prey by hiding amongst the tall grass. There are times you will encounter animals that are several times bigger and stronger than you so it’s best to leave those animals alone. Herbivores have to find plants to eat, although this is easier said than done when there are a whole lot of meat-eaters around. To make life easier for you, you can hide underneath a dumpster to move around much like Solid Snake conceals himself under a cardboard box!
Another interesting aspect of Tokyo Jungle is mating. You have to “mark your territory” around a specific area in the city to attract a number of females. Some females have high standards and only want to mate the best and strongest males. If this happens, you have to impress them by doing more hunting and/or eating in the area. Some females are desperate and want to mate immediately although these females are usually dirty and will give you fleas! If you have fleas, you will need to bathe in any water you may find to get rid of them.
Once you have found a female to mate, you will have a number of offspring. The funny part about this game is that you will now take control of the offspring you’ve just spawned and can no longer control your dad. If you mated with a desperate flea ridden female, you will only have 2 children. However, if you fall in love with a healthier female partner, you will have 4 healthy offspring in your control. The more offspring you can control, your chances of survival increases because you have backup to help you fight other animals, or you can use them as bait while you’re running away from a more powerful enemy.
Tokyo Jungle is a very fun and unique game but there are major flaws in the game design that prevent it from being a fully enjoyable experience. First of all, you cannot progress in the game’s story mode by simply completing the chapters like in a normal video game. No, you have to collect blue icons called “archives” that are littered throughout the game’s other mode called Survival. This is easier said than done because the game’s Survival mode is painfully difficult and the archives are usually spread so far apart. Not to mention, you have to do this EVERY time you want to unlock a new chapter in the story mode…
Another thing that makes this game somewhat a frustrating experience is that your animals get hungry almost every second. If your hunger meter depletes to zero, it will then deplete your life bar meaning you will be dead unless you find some food to consume. It’s very annoying because your hunger meter depletes literally every second even after you’ve just eaten a decent meal. This becomes an even agonizing experience when it becomes nighttime because all of the animals and plants aren’t out and you’re walking around the city starving to death…
The story mode itself is pretty enjoyable; too bad you have to play through the game’s hard Survival mode over and over again just to unlock a new chapter for it. One of my favorite stories was being a lioness and having to hunt food for her family. One of the animals you had to kill was a Kangaroo with boxing gloves. He even had an army of rabbits with him also with boxing gloves.
Graphically, Tokyo Jungle is nothing special. The game looks more like a PS2 game more than anything else. The city of Tokyo looks bland and lacks any details and even the animal character models don’t look as furry as they should be.
Toyko Jungle is a unique game and it’s unlikely you will encounter another game like it. It’s rather fun playing as different kinds of animals and the game’s humor is sure to put a smile on people’s faces. Sadly, the game’s major flaws prevent me from recommending this game to everyone. If you don’t have patience, the difficulty curve is pretty steep and who made the bright idea make the story mode inaccessible unless you collect icons from an entirely separate mode? Tokyo Jungle would have been a modern favorite game of mine had it been structured like a normal video game where you can progress through the story mode by actually playing the story mode…
Lasting Appeal 7.5