The future has been predicted in many stories, both written and recorded, and these predictions have been described in a variety of settings. From barren wastelands in a post-apocalyptic world, to highly advanced civilizations with space ships and intergalactic travels, there are many ways to envision the inevitable future. One of my favorite themes in sci-fi stories are futures that are flushed with neon, spouting snazzy tunes and funky clothing options. While this theme is nothing new, Tokyo 42 one hundred percent is, bringing both a stunning visual presence and unique gameplay style to the table. Framed for a murder you did not commit, you must now run and gun your way through a futuristic Tokyo and find out who framed you. Get ready to get some blood on your tiny, vibrant body.
Tokyo 42 is an action-stealth game that aims to be equal parts Grand Theft Auto (the original one) and Syndicate. It is a distant top-down perspective where you can sneak, shoot, and jump your way around one of the most stylish and vibrant settings you have ever seen in a game. Period. Aside from the super cool setting, there is another cool kicker. As opposed to a static camera angle, Tokyo 42 allows players to view the game from eight angles, allowing you to go full circle and see the many faces of Tokyo. This gives way to the games unique gunplay, making things both hectic and strategic.
After being framed for murder, you take up the mantel of an assassin. This gives way to you earning information from key players in the biz so to speak, with your growing reputation allowing for high-rollers to more willingly give you information on who framed you and why. With a few friends and more frenemies, Tokyo 42 has a colorful cast that supports a solid story. One of the grounded basis behind the world of Tokyo 42 is the drug known as NanoMed. These NanoMeds make death a thing of the past, which make assassinations a top dollar market. NanoMeds bring their users back to life, restoring damaged bodies back to nearly new, but as usual the big wig pharmaceutical companies have something sinister behind their prescriptions. But whether it is a permanent hit or a power move, hitmen are in business and as the great Lt. Aldo Raine once said, “Business is a boomin.” There are both main line stories as well as side missions to pursue. There is a little under 30 main story missions, with a solid chunk of both side missions and assassination bounties to pursue. The story is a common tale of revenge, betrayal, and espionage. It has some highs and lows, but is mostly enjoyable throughout. The side missions range from feline festivities, bike racing, and more. Some of the most gunplay can be found in the assassination bounties which can be found in various parts of the large city. These bounty boards typically contain about five bounties per region, with themes regarding the local areas and inhabitants. A lot of these hits contain bonuses for taking out the targets in specific ways, which nets you a nice bonus check.
The gunplay is not only hard to master but also hard to get used to period, making some hits hard or dull by way of execution. What I mean by that is that some firefights would have all the making to be a standout, but because of the difficulty of the gameplay, can end up being a “wait it out” situation where you slowly pick off enemies in cheap and sneaky ways. You can shoot both quickly as well as more accurately with an aiming system. The aiming system is great for sniping, which is one of the more enjoyable parts of the gunplay. I loved taking cover on roof tops and picking off target after target. The cover system works exceptionally well, popping your player out of cover when the trigger is pulled, and defensively putting him or her back in cover after the fact. The trickier part of the shooting is the out in the open sections, especially when a multitude of enemies approach. Shots wiz all over the screen, making it hard to pick your shots while also dodging others. Sometimes it works out, but with angles playing a key factor in accuracy, getting a hang of this is quite the task. On most story missions that allowed for it, I chose to go stealth all the way, until provoked to do otherwise. You can crouch and sneak around the detailed and well-built maps, using a katana for completely quiet kills. I found this to be the best way to play the game. If all hell breaks loose while going this route, either blast your way through the predicament, or die and then respawn at the nearest vending machine (the games form of checkpoints and save spots).
Though the gunplay can be disappointing sometimes, the one thing that is never disappointing is the scenery. Tokyo 42 is easily one of the best looking games ever, with a style to kill for. Colors flourish like never before. Tokyo is a living, breathing work of art, and the art direction is award worthy. Everything is vivid and smooth, with subtle details that make all the difference and further immerse you in the world. With obscure structures that draw your eyes, you will not grow bored of the world around you. The score is ever so fitting too. Some songs have that perfect sci-fi feel, with weird twangs they add to the obscurity in the best way possible. Described as “synth-wave”, the tracks are just the perfect complement to the scenery and sell the full package to the directive vision.
Tokyo 42 only features minor issues, aside from the sometimes simple story, a cheap boss or two, and the underlying gunplay issues. For being as pretty as it is, there is the occasional technical issue. During some respawns, I would be thrown off center, slipping to my death off of the map. That was one of the more noticeable issues, in addition to the odd looking motion blur that occurred while riding the motorcycle. The motorcycle is an issue all on its own. Though the idea of it is cool, driving while managing eight angles of view is a nightmare. There is a side mission where you partake in a motorcycle race, which I cannot fathom ever completing. It is just a headache and at the end of the day, an unnecessary addition to the game. Fast travel is easy as can be, and running around the city is an enjoyable experience, making the motorcycle and its combat segments some of the more forgettable parts of my journey. There is also a multiplayer mode that can be played, but sadly I have no feedback on that since I could not find an active matchmaking lobby after a fair amount of attempts.
I love what Tokyo 42 is from an outside perspective. Its beauty and style are to die for, with the pun fully being intended. While the gunplay is sometimes a pain due to the mechanics and staple angle maneuvering feature, it still has its moments, considerably so while playing in stealth. The story is not something that takes the genre to new heights, it is supported by a well scripted cast and one hell of an aesthetic. While the developers at SMAC may not have hit highpoints in every aspect of Tokyo 42, they surely made something truly unique and that is more than enough to be proud of.
Final Score: 7.5/10
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