We have all had that kind of evening where you are sitting at home, just chilling out with the TV on when a breaking news story interrupts what you are watching. Glued to the screen as events unfold and it is as captivating as live TV can get. Strangely a mysterious phone call alerts you to the fact that the news helicopter is focusing on your home and told that the police are coming for you believing you are responsible for the murder showing on the breaking news before being told to simply get out and run…..welcome to Tokyo 42!
Tokyo 42 is an isometric 3D game which sees you as the player, framed for a murder putting you number one on the most wanted list. After escaping, a friend tells you that the only way to clear your name is to find out who framed you, only way to do this is to become an assassin yourself and rise up the ranks of that fraternity in order to gain enough infamy to find out who set you up because you know, going from person watching telly to murdering assassin in one night makes complete sense in video games.
The setting for the game is really fun with visuals and a kick ass cyber funk soundtrack and really makes me think of two games really, the original Syndicate game from my Amiga days and HITMAN. Syndicate in the way the player uses the camera to change the viewpoint of the world, a 3D world which will require using the controller bumper buttons in order to spin it around to show new paths and routes around the area you are in. It is a world that instantly makes sense and feels natural yet encourages some exploration in order to understand it better, to know your surroundings because the main part of the game will require that knowledge.
The main gameplay comes in two forms but the first is the most important, becoming an assassin. To do this the player will take on various assassination missions, requiring the taking out of a target in a particular way or using a specific weapon before making your escape. Completing these jobs will progress you further into the game. Like HITMAN, successfully planning how to tackle each job is vital which is where exploring the area to find the best vantage point and a possible exit route out will really help. This side of the game is quite satisfying and there is an awesome sense of humour in the dialogue during and on completion of a good kill. Jobs can become very challenging with some targets surrounded by body guards or in locations very difficult to get to or even away from. When things go well it is rather rewarding but sadly, if things go pear shape it really starts to show the issues that prevent this game really excelling.
Moving around the world is straight forward but on a controller it does feel very clumsy and imprecise at times. I found myself frequently falling off gangways as coming down steps would often make my character jump down and then off the screen. Moving the camera to give you a good line of sight to where you are moving is vital here. But the combat for me is where Tokyo 42 becomes annoying and highly frustrating. If seen by the enemy during a mission, they will become alerted to your presence and will come after you hard, made more difficult by the fact this game has a one shot kill element meaning if you are shot just once, it is game over and you will have to restart the mission. When outnumbered, tying to escape is made a little easier thanks to a gadget that can give you a digital cloak to look like someone else and as long as you stay out of the enemy search, you can move away. But if under a hail of bullets, trying to avoid those shots whilst attempting to take the enemy down can prove very challenging though sometimes in a fun way, later on it can be more frustrating however. The combat system as well can be great when approaching a target on a job, but when it comes to taking on multiple enemies it definitely has weak spots. The enemy AI can be a crack shot whilst your shots can miss as the targeting system feels very over complicated at times depending on the weapon selected, personal favourite of mine has to be the katana, when bullets wont go where you want them to, a swing of a sword can do the job up close and personal. The clumsiness does take a bit of the shine off this game, leaving it rather messy at pivotal times that you need precision only to get hit by a stray bullet and have to go through it all again.
Tokyo 42 is a very interesting game world to be in, I like the dark sense of humour at times and the assassination jobs can be thrilling. Not to mention the fact that at any time a randomly generated rival Hitman can be sent after you. The visuals are spot on and are complimented by a great musical score but in the gameplay it can fall down. Ultimately whilst enjoyable at times I found it more frustrating playing with a controller and it really just let me wanting to pick up HITMAN to replay again for really the same sensation of planning and executing a mission.
It just left me feeling more disappointed than satisfied but it certainly offers a unique approach to the standard HITMAN style assassination gameplay. Hopefully with some patches and updates, the controls can be refined a bit more but it does offer enough to warrant attention.