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Jak and Daxter: The Lost Frontier Review

December 20, 2009

Developer: High Impact Games
Publisher: Sony Computer Entertainment
Platform:  PSP (Version Played), PS2
Genre:  Platformer
Players: 1
Release Date: 18th November 2009

Anyone who has played the previous Jak and Daxter games will have fallen in love with them due to the witty dialogue, loveable characters, solid presentation and the overall charm. However, Naughty Dog seemed to have abandoned the series in favour of Uncharted. Now Uncharted may be fantastic but that doesn’t mean I don’t want any more of my favourite gaming duo. Fortunately for us, High Impact Games (Ratchet & Clank: Size Matters, Secret Agent Clank) have brought us the sequel we’ve all been waiting for to the PSP.

Fans of Naughty Dog and even Insomniac Games (The two tend to go hand in hand) will probably be aware of what happened the last time a great series went to a new developer: it was ruined. The Crash Bandicoot games on the PlayStation were great but when Naughty Dog left to series to Universal, the series slowly got worse and worse. Spyro the Dragon led the same fate. This time events went a lot smoother and we got a game that fits nicely in with the rest of the series.

It plays very similar to the other Jak and Daxter games, particularly the first game which was more platform focused. It hasn’t completely gone back to roots though, as the gun combat returns and there are plenty of new additions that make it unique from the rest of the series.

The biggest new addition is the introduction of air combat. Similar to the ground vehicles in Jak 3, you will slowly unlock more planes which will be kept in a hangar. From the hangar you are able to select which plane you want to take to the skies and take part in a variety of missions. The main missions involve various tasks ranging from destroying defence bases to chasing after other planes. Each area is scattered with various side missions too. They will either take the form of races or large enemy planes that need to be eliminated. Racing is pretty much fun all the time but the other missions can get quite repetitive after a while. Of course, if you want to just fly about and kill enemies you are free to do so.

All of the planes can be equipped with new weapons and upgrades which add a little more depth to the air combat. New equipment can either be bought or stolen from other planes. Stealing equipment happens to be the most enjoyable option out of the two and see’s you firing Daxter onto other planes. This activates a series of Quick Time Events that let you tear apart the plane for scrap metal and parts. This new approach to the series works well and shows that High Impact Games are able to make the game their own without moving away from the formula the fans all love.

There is a very good reason that the formula is loved by many though. The Naughty Dog games were very fluid, varied and extremely solid which made for a very enjoyable platforming and action experience. It remains relatively unchanged in The Lost Frontier with the only differences coming to down to a control scheme more suitable to the PSP. This does lead to some minor problems though. Every so often the camera control can suffer meaning that you most likely die after your next jump. Aiming the guns can also be difficult since it purely relies on auto-aim which means precision shots are a lot more difficult.

Just like the air combat, the on-foot platforming has plenty of side quests to take part in. Most of them involve finding the Precursor Orbs that are scattered around the map (Once again, like Jak 3) but there are a few other, more combat focused missions to mix it up a little.

One impressive feat that High Impact Games deserve praise for is the script and character. Both the script and character in the previous games played quite a big part in the charm and fortunately High Impact Games were able to keep it similar to Naughty Dogs efforts. The voice actors return, the characters are just as likeable as ever and the dialogue is a witty and sharp as it always has been.

There are some slight dialogue problems though, which mainly focus around the new Dark Eco sections. Jak may not be able to use Dark Eco now but someone else is able to this time. Yes, that’s right; Daxter now has his own Dark Eco sections. Unfortunately they are by far the weakest parts of the game. The few moves you get aren’t really that fun (Except for the tornado which never gets boring) and combined with the aggressive attitude from Daxter at this point makes this section rather boring. Daxter’s dialogue is often really bad and doesn’t fit in with the sharp and witty character we have all grown to know.

It is also lacking in the world that you play in. The artistic design is still really strong with crisp graphics, bright colours and imaginative enemies but the world itself isn’t really fleshed out much. Haven City and the Wasteland from the other games were really well designed and gave players the feeling they were in a fleshed out imaginative world. It probably comes to down the PSP’s capabilities as each area is quite small and there isn’t much time for personality or a connection to be built.

My biggest complaint is the length though. I managed to finish it in about 6 hours and I done some side quests. I would guess that it would take about 10 hours to finish the game and do all of the side quests which is slightly better but I still would have preferred it to be longer.

The Lost Frontier is a worthy addition to the Jak and Daxter franchise. It may have a few problems and is slightly limited by the PSP but it’s still a solid and fun game. High Impact Games add enough new content to make the game play well but keep it similar enough to capture the charm of the other games. It may be short but it’s a must for Jak and Daxter fans and a solid platformer for fans of the genre. Though, playing this makes me want a next gen Jak and Daxter even more.

+ It’s great to play as Jak and Daxter again
+ Characters are just as likeable as ever
+ Air combat is a nice addition to the game

Really short
Lacks charm
Minor Control Issues

8/10

Posted with express permission of Hooked Gamers
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