Gunplay with Isometric viewpoints simply doesn’t work over differing heights.
Looks great. Tons of personality. Doesn’t work.
I could end the review here.
The game starts with promise. Ok, maybe that’s not true. We begin with the classic ‘framed for some murder you didn’t commit, yeah’ and the only way to solve this problem is to murder a lot of people.
So… Why not become a hitman for hire? I mean, it is a beautiful rooftop world. Actually, I’m fine with this premise. Typical setup aside, the story does a fine job of letting you get on with it. It’s pleasant enough.
Lovely isn’t it. Looks even better whilst moving. ‘Ave a looksie. Might wanna set it to HD though.
My initial problem was that the keyboard set-up felt slightly off. You’ll have to rotate the map a fair bit, which doesn’t come naturally. So I retreated to a control pad; nice. Using the bumpers to rotate the map helped and allowed me to use the right stick to aim. Which is fine, up until the point you need to aim at multiple levels. Want to shoot that sniper on the roof? Click the right stick to put it into manual aiming. Slowly get the cursor over his head and fire. More often or not, you’ll need to aim for a tiny moving bastard, and frustration sets in. Fine, fine. I should have never gone with the pad. Let’s return to the mouse. Yes, I can now aim for the tiny moving bastard, but my shots still went awry. You see whilst the map is stunning, shooting doesn’t account for the slopes and bridges. Bullet-Whoosh. You never quite feel in control of where you’re shooting at. In other words, you say “fuck off” loudly after each death. A single gunshot wound kills you. Nope, can’t even take an in an’ out bullet to the shoulder; the pansy. Shooting your way into trouble doesn’t seem viable, but there’s a better way…
Top tip – You can have the world rotate on the mousewheel. Possibly the most useful top tip ever. Check out the options screen.
… with a sexy Katana in hand. No more noisy gunshots. We now have the potential to treat every mission as a stealth mission, as you leap, sneak and chop. If you’re coming to this game with the mindset of causing a ruckus, you’ll only find frustration. Thankfully there are checkpoints everywhere, getting you back into the action immediately. I guess it had to be that way or you’ll get a tad violent. So, this could be considered a stealth game. Let’s judge it on those merits.
When using a control pad, why would I need to ‘aim’ the Katana with the right stick before swinging it? Silly control system.
The tiny graphics do not lend themselves well to sneak em’ up action. Hell, the guards won’t notice their dead buddies laying around and it’s all a bit basic. The guards are plentiful and deadly, an’ the shooting so slapdash, it pays to wipe them out beforehand. Where are the guards looking? You’ll get close to them and sight lines crop up, meaning you can test the waters somewhat. Why does the AI feel so lifeless? They walk in that pre-determined manner between two points or lean up against walls. Sure, you can change outfits, but there isn’t much more to it. It doesn’t really feel like a stealth game. There seems to be an obvious route when acing a missions and improvisation only gets you so far. It looks like a shooty-shooty game, it tries to play like a sneaky-sneaky game, but in practice, it’s closer to a straight puzzle game.
The beautiful design, fun gadgets, bikes and guns don’t mean a thing with the basic shooting rendered near inoperable. I have a list of minor complaints, but ultimately they, like everything else, are irrelevant.
At close range I decided to shoot an unawares enemy at the back of his head, only to have the gunfire ‘warn’ him. He springs into life, sidesteps out the way and instantly shoots me. Blink to camera, shrug and fall to death.
I don’t mind the slow floaty physics, happy enough with bullet-hell shooting, I’m a huge fan of falling from a skyscraper without taking damage. There is a lot to like here. Some of the missions are excellent. This isn’t far removed from being proper good, but the more I played it, the greater it annoyed. It’s missing the half of the game I would prefer to play! I would be happy with chop-chop katana fun if it didn’t feel sterile and rigid. Shooting a rocket into a crowd is viable, but you’ll still have to contend with the lottery of the shooting afterwards. I once finished a battle as the hired goons killed themselves with a grenade. I thought…. ‘oh, I did it’.
I look forward to a patch that improves the height auto-aim. That could really help inject some fun back into proceedings. Til then…
I struggled to have fun in the sexy world of Tokyo 42. All the pieces are in place and it wouldn’t take too much to inject the fun factor. Right now, it didn’t click with me.
A game that proves aesthetics should never interrupt gameplay.
The Alternative Corner
If you like to play an excellent top down tactical shooter, might I suggest the wonderful Satellite Reign. Perhaps you would prefer something a lil quicker and violent? Well, you can’t go wrong with the first Hotline Miami. Good day!