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Tokyo Jungle review: It doesn't look triple-A, but it's a totally unique experience

Play as tigers, bears and giraffes... on roller skates

On the deserted streets of Tokyo, a fight ensues. On one side, a gang of hissing stray cats; on the other side, a vicious pack of hyenas. And stumbling in on this massive pile-on is you: a cute Pomeranian puppy dressed in a baseball cap and raincoat. This jackpot massacre could provide all the calories you need to become big and strong and attract a mate - that is, if you survive it.

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Set in a post-apocalypse, near-future Japan, Tokyo Jungle pits beast against tail-wagging beast in a fight to survive. That'll be why the main bulk is in Survival Mode: the aim is to endure for as many in-game years as possible and rack up points, which are fed into an online leaderboard and used to buy items to enhance your prospects.

Pick from a roster of animals and explore a section of central Tokyo (stretching between Shibuya and Harajuku and divided into nine areas), marking your territory at flag points so you can find a mate and breed. You then continue as your offspring, inheriting the previous generation's stats; this system also grants you extra lives in a way, since if you die you can back track as your progeny.

The game changes depending on your chosen animal, which are unlocked through play or bought as DLC. Carnivores such as dogs, cats, lions, crocodiles and even sabre-tooth tigers offer an action-heavy experience: sneak up on or chase enemies to go for killer takedowns by tapping u at the right moment (indicated by a red set of teeth appearing over your prey), or scrap to the death with a combination of attacks (r), takedowns and evades (right stick). You can then eat your victims (e), leaving only a pile of bones.

Herbivores, on the other hand, must rely on stealth to sneak past predators, hiding in tall grass and moving when their backs are turned. Metal Deer Solid, if you will. Indeed, the nods to MGS throughout Tokyo Jungle are numerous, from the radar-based stealth system to the exclamation marks over enemies' heads showing they've spotted you, and from the evasion countdown when fleeing a predator to "just a box"-style props to hide under. The side-scrolling combat, meanwhile, recalls Streets Of Rage, with Blaze and co replaced by the cast of The Lion King.

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Animal magnetism
Part of what makes the game addictive - and it is, ruthlessly so - is the way it forces you to balance several elements. Leave it too long between meals and your Hungry gauge depletes, which in turn depletes your Life bar; linger too long in an outbreak, or eat infected carrion or plants, and your Poison gauge rises, again threatening your health.

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