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REVIEW | Pomeranians, Rabbits and Velociraptors Oh My

Posted on September 28, 2012 AT 09:49am

In a world full of games that have been iterated upon time and again, sometimes it’s very refreshing to see one that is unique.  Brought to us from Sony’s Japan Studio, the latest PSN exclusive title, Tokyo Jungle is that one of a kind game.  With a style and voice all its own, this is the refreshing change for which you’ve been searching.

In Tokyo Jungle, you play the role of an animal trying to survive in a post-apocalyptic version of Tokyo.  Ten years previous, humans disappeared from the city suddenly and mysteriously.  Since then, the animals and foliage have taken over the abandoned city.  Many of the animals left to fend for themselves used to be pets and must learn to be more savage to survive.

The game modes come in two varieties: survival and story.  The mode you’ll spend the most time with will be the survival mode.  In this section of the game, you pick from a large assortment of animals and try to keep yourself alive for as long as possible.  As you survive longer, you earn more SP, survival points, which not only contribute to your final score, but allow you to unlock more animals.  At the end of each survival round, your total SP is tallied up and shared on a leader board for all to see and compete.  You can also collect archives throughout the world during a survival round which, if you collect four of them, unlocks a new chapter in the story mode.

The Story section of the games puts you in a particular animals shoes, so to speak, and tells the individual story of that creature.  The stories can be very cute and occasionally offer more of a challenge by having you hone specific skills you might be using in survival mode.  As you collect more archives and unlock more story missions, you learn little bits more about the reason for the sudden disappearance of all mankind.

The game plays a bit differently depending on the type of animal you choose to play.  If you choose a plant-eater, you job is to sneak around foraging for plants where you can find them and staying away from dangerous predators.  If you choose to be one of those predators, you job shifts towards killing anything thy moves so you can eat it and become the strongest animal around.  As you play, the game gives you a series of challenges for each decade you survive.  For each of these challenges, you earn bonuses to your stats which increase your ability to fight and survive.  Completing these challenges, which include things like killing, eating, traveling and mating, are a ton of fun and a great way to keep you focused on some goals as you try to survive.  These challenges are not mandatory either, so if you want to ignore them and do your own thing, it’s all up to you.

The thing that’s kept me well an truly addicted to the game is unlocking all of the animals.  There are quite a few of them, 50 animals and 80 breeds, and you can only unlock them one at a time.  In challenge mode, after you’ve mated at least once or twice, it unlocks a special challenge where you have to either touch or kill the boss of a particular kind of animal and if you succeed in this mission, the animal becomes playable.  The kinds if animals available to unlock are widely varied and while, aside from the two varieties if animals, most creatures controls are the same, the stats attached to each animal provides a shocking difference in how they feel to play.  On top of that, you can find gear in the world, such as a cute puppy sweater or a baseball cap, that add to your stats and can be carried over between survival matches.  There’s nothing quite as amazing as being a lion wearing a shower cap, scarf and fanny pack in post-apocalyptic Tokyo.

I will admit that the game doesn’t have the best graphics and I won’t be buying the soundtrack to listen to on my commute anytime soon, but these are not things that jump out at you while playing this game.  You’re really never played anything like this before, an while that’s not always guaranteed to be a good thing, it really comes together well in this instance.  In a pre-apocalyptic world full of very similar games, this is one refreshing tale of what it might be like if animals ruled the world.  You wouldn’t want to miss this game and with a 15 dollar price of admission, there’s no excuse to not give it a shot.  Plus, you know you’ve always want to see a pomeranian and a zebra fight.  Don’t lie to me.

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