Alex Phillimore: (alex.phillimore-deleteme[at]-deleteme-direman [dot] com) 2013-06-03 09:19:49
Tokyo Jungle and Shibuya Survival
When I first played Tokyo Jungle (PS3) it was with my girlfriend, who is a big lover of animals. I think the conversation a few months back went as follows:
Me: "Oh, cool, a game just came out called Tokyo Jungle where you get to play as animals in a big city environment in Japan."
Her: "Sounds cool."
Me: "Oh, and you get to hunt other animals down in some crazy Darwinian survivalist thing."
Her: "Back in a sec."
*Five minutes later*
Me: "Where did you go?"
Her: "Just downloaded it. Let's play."
And play we did. Tokyo Jungle is a really cool game, and while I'm writing about it a long time after playing it, I do recall going through a phase of roughly three weeks where I played it every night. If the game had online co-op it would really be the ultimate package, although it does at least support local co-op, which was fine for us. The cool thing about the game is that you control an animal from a variety of different species (cat, hippo, crocodile etc.) and you have to survive in a city on the verge of dystopia. That means you have to eat, drink and breed, all the while avoiding predators and hunting prey. There's a clever food chain at work in Tokyo Jungle, and while the game can be punishingly difficult until you learn the basics, it is also incredibly rewarding.
There is a real sense of success when you control a hyena, breed an entire pack and then go and take out a clan of tigers. There isn't anything else like Tokyo Jungle out there - combining action and RPG elements, as well as a few RTS sensibilities, it's a great blend of survival and strategy, wrapped up in a unique setting. Exploring Shibuya while toxic gas pollutes the atmosphere and gangs of feisty wolves roam around looking for a meal is definitely unique to Tokyo Jungle, as is the sense of tension created when food becomes increasingly more scarce as years pass in-game and entire species (that you rely upon for survival) disappear from the map.
The single-player campaign is full of genuinely funny cutscenes - this is a game that takes itself no more seriously than the premise of the game itself, and one that benefits from this zaniness. The convincing parody of The Lion King is enough to suggest that Tokyo Jungle is a game that basks in its humour. While the single-player missions are decent, most of your time is spent in the survival mode, roaming the entire city, unlocking new animals and finding silly hats to put on them. Controlling a wolf and taking out a gazelle is always satisfying, especially when you time the strike right and get a one-hit kill with a carefully placed bite to the throat.
At its low price, there is no reason not to invest in Tokyo Jungle if you have a PS3 and someone to play with. The single-player game isn't much to write home about outside of its humour, but playing with someone else locally and creating a pack together is great fun. You'll be carefully distributing who eats and who breeds, and each time you'll attempt to get closer to the 100 years of survival mark. Sadly, you don't get to fuck each other, but you can, at least, watch your partner mount a random NPC giraffe with reckless abandon. Woah, boy!