Tokyo Jungle PS3 review – Good-natured but not quite house-trained
Apparently the product of a militant eco-warrior’s cheese dream after a day at Longleat, Tokyo Jungle is the world’s first post-apocalyptic, multi-generational animal dynasty management action-RPG. It’s also a bloody multi-species combat sim and part-time bestial fancy dress sex-comedy. Admit it, you’re interested.
Tokyo Jungle PS3 review
Essentially an ultra-condensed short-form RPG without a save function, the main Survival mode is built around intense, iterative replays for improved results. Starting with one animal (chosen from the progressively unlocked menagerie of 54) you roam a small open world levelling up by fighting and feeding, and completing time-released XP challenges and marking your territory at designated capture points.
Capture all four targets in a district and you gain access to that area’s nest and a choice of mates. This leads to awkwardly animated sexy times, setting you up to continue as the next generation of your clan via a romantic fade to black and a feral howl.
In the game’s own words, there are three grades of mate: ‘prime’, ‘average’ and ‘desperate’. Much like real life. If you want to avoid the literal and figurative howlers, you need to grind up your level. And you will want to do that, because the better the two parents, the stronger the stats of your offspring.
But this is where it gets even more complicated. Windows of opportunity for challenges are over in minutes. Miss one, and that mission and its XP reward are gone. You also have a hunger gauge, which must be constantly topped up by feeding. And there’s another death-clock in the form of the toxic smog that floats around, alternately making each area a health drain just to be in.
Thus, the game rapidly becomes a tactical knife-edge of risk-and-reward schedule planning, as you juggle the need to strengthen each generation for the benefit of the next against the time pressures of missions and the geographical limitations of air that will make you cough up your lungs in bits. Oh, and if you wait too long before changing generation, you get old and weak and die.
It’s gratifying (if repetitive) once you learn to successfully balance its demands. Trouble is, while it tempers its intensity with a brilliantly silly tone, the game seems to think a lunatic concept alone is enough to mask limited variation and occasionally clunky execution.
However many times you re-hone the precision of your approach, there’s always a chance that the random generation of predators, prey and pollution will screw you over with barely a second’s warning. Plan as intricately and meticulously as you like – had Machiavelli himself been jumped by a hungry lion hiding around a blind corner, the lion would still have won. Quickly.
And while the huge array of playable fauna and comedy clothing stat-buffs vary your abilities, the former just don’t unlock fast enough. The set-piece driven Story mode is a nice diversion, but again it’s drip-fed.
The initial selection of Pomeranian and deer does offer a nice contrast of aggressive carnivore and stealthy grazer, but you’re grinding challenges for a while before you branch out to the cool stuff. And in a game in which you can fight a cow with a dinosaur, that’s a crime.