Self-proclaimed as the lovechild of Syndicate and GTA 1, Tokyo 42 is a hyper stylish isometric open world shooter, with you set to clear your name after wrongfully being framed for a murder. How do you clear your name? By assassinating hundreds of people, of course. The game tries to explain the moral reasoning behind you becoming a gun for hire– but it isn’t the story that’s the problem.
Brimming with neon throughout the menu screens and game HUD, nostalgia plays a huge part on the appearance of Tokyo 42. You are dropped into a world that feel like an 80’s science fiction flick, packed with bold and contrasting colours as you wander across the city. Because of the isometric layout, when you manually change the angle of the camera, you reveal parts of the map that may have previously been unobtainable to reach.
When entering a mission, you can decide the direction of attack you want to take. You can utilise a stealth approach, methodically and silently assassinating your enemies. If the alarm is raised, you can retreat and change your suit using the battery charge, becoming anonymous. This was certainly the best way to approach Tokyo 42, because switching to the run and gun tactic begins to reveal the games fundamental flaws.
The controls layout feels overly complicated and incredibly hard to master. Within the midst of a serious gun fight, it’s too slow to react to what’s happening on screen, leaving the born-again assassin, assassinated. The isometric map hinders more than it helps in these situations; viewing the character from a 2D perspective, what seems a certain hit will fly past, as the camera doesn’t account for the depth of a 3D level. That is to say, with your assassin on one level and your target on another, your projectiles fly past them, despite the target indicator displaying as being dead on the enemy. Melee weapons won’t function unless the fire mode is activated, making even a simple execution hard graft. On numerous occasions, I would be behind a helpless guard, but my sword would become dysfunctional as I had forgotten to implement fire mode, ultimately leaving me as a dead corpse on the floor.
After the gunfight, I’d hoped my ordeal of bad controls were over; I was mistaken. Some missions require you to take control of a bike. The combination of bad controls and manual angle switching just can’t keep up to pace with the bike’s acceleration. This is more present in the bike races that occur later, where countless attempts were needed because camera swapping wasn’t fast enough for the direction I was heading.
Aside from the main story, there are also various side missions to complete. These usually consists of taking out a group, locating a target, or taking a single target out in a certain way. These can be completed quickly, providing you with reputation and cash for your hard work. Once you have enough reputation you can also eliminate guard posts, allowing you freer rein around the city. Collectibles are also dotted around the map, as you search for various colours of cats, different suits, and weapons skins. They provide more length to the game if nothing else, as side missions become extremely repetitive (extremely quickly), and camera angles can make finding the collectibles a chore. Inbetween missions you will also encounter random enemies trying to assassinate you. Killing them rewards you with more coins, but it doesn’t add anything to the game play other than more frustration.
There are also various shops scattered around for you to purchase items from. Within the ammo store, there isn’t a button to automatically fill up your ammo, so you basically keep purchasing until you feel like you have enough. This can be endless because the game doesn’t provide an ammo display, so you can’t see your ammo count until you have exited.
There is also a multiplayer option, which spawns the players into a classic deathmatch. The control and camera issues are still there, but because you’re fighting against other people, who are in the same boat as you, it makes for a more enjoyable experience purely because everybody is at the same disadvantage.