Tokyo Jungle - E32012 Hands-On
Tokyo Jungle - E32012 Hands-On
According to wikipedia Tokyo is populated by 35 million human beings. For comparison, Sydney - the largest city in Australia - has just 4.6 million humans. Australia overall has just 22 million humans, not even two thirds of the population of Tokyo alone.
Imagine if one day all those humans just disappeared.
Then imagine if all the animals in Tokyo - in the zoos, being kept as pets, starring in amazing game shows - all got out and decided to animal it up. Also, for what could only be described as 'gameplay purposes', they could dress themselves.
Tokyo Jungle is the game that you - through various leaps of the imagination - just envisioned. At E32012 the just-released-in-Japan game was on-show - helpfully translated into English - and yours truly got to experience two different survivors in this brave new world.
The first animal I became was the humble Pomeranian. Otherwise known as 'that fluffy dog - no, that other fluffy dog', the Pomeranian is the sort of beast which strikes fear into the hearts of almost nobody. Being that we were playing 'Survival mode', the challenge was obvious - I had to live for as long as possible.
Learning to be a Pomeranian was simple. The game is a side-scrolling open-world game - with top-scrolling sections used to transition to new parts of the emptied Tokyo. You can jump, hide and attack, and with rudimentary stealth elements like hiding in tall grass incorporated into the game the game has an almost Metal Gear feel to it. Except you're a Pomeranian, instead of a Solid Snake.
My mission was to take over this particular section of Tokyo, all while managing my health and hunger. To take over the area I needed to travel from one end to the other marking my territory - once I controlled the zone I'd be able to find a mate, which would help increase my odds of living longer. Of course.
Managing hunger is as simple as finding something to eat. Almost immediately I saw a rabbit nearby - I dropped to a low crawl and entered some long grass, stalking my prey like an adorable leopard, or maybe a wolf. An 'attack' option flashed above the rabbit's head and so I did.
Claws slashed, teeth gnashed and my prey fell to my terrible attack - but not before getting in a strike of its own. My health went down - so eating the rabbit allowed me to replenish both my hunger and health bars.
As I sought out the areas I needed to mark, time ticked over. According to my Sony host the game tracks how long you are playing for to measure your success in terms of Survival - but as the years tick by the game also throws tougher enemies at you. Early game it's nothing but chickens and bunnies roaming - eventually though, I cross the path of two cats, and suddenly I am the prey. Just barely I manage to kill the two cats, and I'm then forced to hunt down a source of water to get my health all the way back to full.
Eventually I manage to mark all the territories in this section and new icons appear on my minimap - I have the option to find a mate! Lady Pomeranians roam the parts of Tokyo that I now control, so I make my way back down the map to find one of these ******* to make my dog wife.
The attractiveness of your animal is based on your current rank - the higher your rank, the better a mate you can get. Better mates have better stats - and because the stats of your animal and the stats of your mate influence the starting stats of your babies, there are obvious reasons to have the highest rank possible.
When you choose a mate/your mate accepts you, you lead her back to your nest and make sweet fluffy love. Fade to black.
When the screen fades back in there are four Pom puppies standing around, all in a line - a new generation of Tokyo terrors. Moving as a pack I take them to the next area in Tokyo - but being that we were at E3 and there was a mass of people behind me waiting to play I decided my time as a Pomeranian had come to a close.
Knowing full well that people behind me wanted to become a Pomeranian I quit out and became a Sika Deer instead. This is where the game gets truly interesting - while the Pomeranian is a predator (in the loosest sense of the term), the Sika Deer is at the bottom of every food chain.
This means that where possible I had to sneak past enemies - I lacked the facilities to win almost any encounter. Without hesitation I leapt to my task - taking over territory, snacking on vegetation, finding a mate - with the sort of enthusiasm you'd expect from a deer.
Still, something was missing. Like my insatiable thirst for death in DayZ, I want my Deer to wet its beak, if you know what I mean. I need to see how a Deer will fare in battle - but I also didn't want my turn to be over - so I continue avoiding the Hyena patrolling my new home.
Instead I head down the screen to a new area, and I finally encounter the next element impacting survival in this Tokyo - toxicity. No, System of a Down doesn't pump incessantly - the end of the world isn't that bad. Instead, a fog lies thick over Tokyo and the player will need to move to avoid deadly amounts of radiation.
This will probably wind up providing challenge for the player - forcing them to move in dangerous circumstances to avoid the poisonous fog, instead of simply hiding forever - but before I could explore the concept further I happened upon a potential victim... a baby chicken.
The chick, bright yellow and carefree, stood near some rubbish bins with an arrogance I found personally offensive, so I snuck up close to it until I saw the 'strike' icon appear... and then, when the strike icon appeared its reddest I attacked, earning a 'clean kill'. A clean kill earns you extra points (used for the ranking system mentioned earlier) - and it allows you to inflict massive stealth damage, like Rikimaru the Tenchiest of the Stealth Assassins.
Sadly this chick wasn't alone, and moments later seven tiny yellow terrors swarmed and attacked my dear. I let out an audible yelp and tried to run - but it was too late.
And so ended my time with Tokyo Jungle. I put the controller down and looked back at the laughing faces of those waiting for their turn, and I knew I'd take away an important lesson from the game. That lesson - Baby Chickens ain't nuthin' ta f' wit'.
When the full game - apparently a PSN exclusive - comes out later this year you'll become everything from a Pomeranian to the mighty Tyrannosaurus Rex. Now that you know such a game exists, the hardest part will be pretending like you care about any other game between now and then.
Recent News Entries
The War Z now Infestation: Survivor Stories, still not worth playing
We did it? Microsoft capitulates on internet and used games
Skulls of the Shogun coming to Steam, beta available with pre-purchase
Torchlight for free, up to 85% off 500+ other games in GOG's Summer Sale
E3 2013 - Interview with Infinity Ward