A survival game with a unique concept, "Tokyo Jungle" is set in a future devoid of humans, where nature has reclaimed the urban center of Tokyo.
"Tokyo Jungle" is a game where you play as an animal - carnivore or herbivore - in the overgrown, overrun city of Tokyo. It takes place in a future scenario where humans disappeared from the earth, and in their place the various animals of the city - former pets, zoo animals, and even genetic experiments - created their own ecosystem. This is certainly the game's most notable aspect. While it's easy to imagine a wildlife game set in the African savanna, where cheetahs chase after gazelles, throwing feral pets and farm animals into the mix - cats, dogs, goats, cows - gives the game a far more strange and unique feeling. The starting animal for the carnivore class, for example, is a humble Pomeranian.
The game's concept is simple enough: survive. Your animal must find food (whether plant or animal), avoid larger animals, and mark territory. It doesn't have a traditional narrative per se - the main mode is simply "survive as long as you can", with the constant ravages of hunger and other animals wearing down your own animal over time. Gameplay-wise, Tokyo Jungle is sort of an action/stealth game. Patches of grass grow all over the ruined city, and these are useful to both predators and prey. Predators can use the grass to launch devastating strikes from concealment, which can often be enough to fell even much larger animals. Prey, on the other hand, will have to use grass to hide from predators, though it's also possible to take down predators with whatever means the creature has available (horns, hooves, etc). There are also some more "RPG-like" aspects - mission objectives will pop up as you play through the game, and completing them will improve your animal's strength, speed, health, and so on. Even a beagle can eventually grow strong enough to take down lions with ease.
The game's unlock system is one of its more forced mechanics. Predators and prey each start with one animal type available - Pomeranians for the predators, and sika deer for the prey. Each animal has the opportunity to unlock one (rarely two) other animal type(s) by completing a mission during their playthrough. While this certainly extends the game's playtime and ensures that you play as every possible animal, it also sort of makes the game feel repetitive, especially since there just isn't that much difference gameplay-wise between most animal types. "Story missions" can be unlocked by playing survival mode, but these tend to be self-contained vignettes rather than part of a larger narrative (and what sort of narrative you'd get from this set-up, I don't really know).
Overall, Tokyo Jungle is certainly a weird game, but not a bad one. Some people will undoubtedly find the concept interesting enough to be worth it just for that. Some may find it repetitive and dull after the initial concept introduction. Overall, though, it's surprisingly good for what it is, and is definitely a distinct addition to the PS3's library.
We purchased this game with our own funds in order to do this review.