11-26-2009 02:09 PM
Review Author: DAXRULZ
After three-and-a-half years without a game from the popular "Jak and Daxter" franchise, High Impact Games presents "Jak and Daxter: The Lost Frontier", a new adventure where our demolition duo is sent into the Brink, the unfinished portion of the world that may hold the key to restoring the world's supply of Eco. With epic air battles, new enemies as well as allies, and new secrets, Jak and Daxter's latest adventure will have you on your toes. Are you in?
The gameplay in "Jak and Daxter: The Lost Frontier" closely resembles that of the gameplay featured in "Jak II" and "Jak 3" as far as platforming goes, but don't expect to see Dark Jak or Light Jak around for this installment of the franchise. The platforming is mostly the same, except jumping feels a little awkward and the roll-jump maneuver is missing. In this game, Jak is equipped with a "Gunstaff", which is essentially the Morph Gun in almost every sense. But unlike the Morph Gun in "Jak 3", don't expect the wide variety of attachments like the Supernova or the Arc Wielder. You'll find the Scatter Gun, the Blaster, and the the Vulcan Fury, but the fan-favorite Peace Maker isn't included. Instead, you'll get this RPG called the "Lobber", which I never particularly found useful.
I suppose it's time to clear the elephant in the room: Dark Daxter. In "Jak and Daxter: The Lost Frontier", there are three separate levels where Daxter is randomly separated from his best friend only to transform into a hulk-ified version of himself. During these levels, you're supposed to solve a series of puzzles by pounding the ground to flip batteries for the purpose of altering aspects of the environment to find the exit. The whole "Dark Daxter" idea was an online joke ever since Dark Jak was introduced in "Jak II", but it would seem that High Impact Games decided to take it seriously. I would like to forget Dark Daxter ever happened, but since I am writing this review, I'm afraid I'm going to have to take this abomination into account. Unlike the early production videos of the game, Dark Daxter doesn't speak like a dim-witted caveman. Instead, he has a voice and attitude that closely resembles Megatron from the latest "Transformers" films. This doesn't make the Dark Daxter aspect of the game any better, but it is very disturbing having to hear him present dark speeches about how he was going to slaughter the next foe he sees. Overall, Dark Daxter is highly unnecessary and contributes absolutely nothing to the game's plot.
As part of the story, Keira discovers a way to convert Jak's Dark Eco into colored Eco. As a result, Jak can learn a wide variety of new Eco-induced abilities. For instance, he can summon a crag to slow down a charging enemy or unleash an Eco Amplifier so that when shot at, it emits a powerful energy field that is most useful against bosses with high defense. This brings a fresh twist to the game and is pretty fun to work with.
To those who were skeptical when High Impact Games announced that 40% of the game would consist of flying missions, don't be. I had a blast with the many flying missions I came across in the game. The controls were easy to adapt to and I loved every second of taking part in dog fights and dismantling larger ships. Plus, you can customize ships with an assortment of weapons, armor upgrades, and other tools to help you become the commander of the skies.
The graphics of "Jak and Daxter: The Lost Frontier" were a little difficult to judge. The in-game graphics aren't quite as good as they were in "Jak and Daxter: The Precursor Legacy", but the cutscenes are absolutely gorgeous compared to what the series is used to. Textures become nearly visible and characters move at a greater frame-rate. My fellow fans of Daxter will be delighted to know that our lovable Ottsel is noticeably fuzzy in the cutscenes to a point that's more realistic than he appeared in "Daxter".
The score featured in "Jak and Daxter: The Lost Frontier" is by far the best soundtrack in the series thus far. I've greatly enjoyed Jamey Scott's arrangements since "Jak II", but I'm afraid Jim Dooley has him beat with this one. There are a variety of tracks that I would certainly deem worthy for a summer blockbuster movie, plus there are a couple of climactic battle sequences that involve a choir singing in the background, which was exactly what the series needed at some point or another.
The only downside to the game as far as sound goes is that Jak is NOT voiced by Mike Erwin; instead, he's played by Josh Keaton who's acting makes me cringe whenever Jak opens his mouth. I only pray that he will not return for future entries in the series.
With the world's supply of Eco diminishing, Jak and Daxter travel with Keira to the Brink to search for a potential source of Eco, but not before crossing paths with Captain Phoenix, the leader of a group of sky pirates. Can Jak and Daxter escape this mess and find a way to restore Eco to the world before it's too late?
The point in time where the story takes place is a little confusing. If you look at the back of the box, it states that it "picks up...where the previous trilogy left off", so it would be assumed that the game takes place after "Jak 3" and before "Jak X: Combat Racing". However, if you look inside the manual and read into "The Story So Far", it says "From Haven City...to the mean lanes of the Kras City Combat Racing Championship...." With this in mind, I'm a little clueless as to when the story actually takes place and therefore can't give you an accurate assessment of the story's placement.
Sadly, the story behind "Jak and Daxter: The Lost Frontier" isn't quite up to par with the other entries in the series. Quite often, it feels like it's being rushed to where I'm not entirely sure of what exactly is about to happen. It's easily perceived that the story could have been stretched a little bit, which would certainly help the game last a little longer(which only took a little more than 8 hours for me to finish, contrary to HIG's promise of 10-12 hours). Fans of Sig, Ashelin, Torn, etc. will be disappointed, for the only returning characters of the series are Daxter, Jak, and Keira. I am aware that Naughty Dog wrote the story, but it's pretty clear that it was something that was brainstormed in a relatively small period of time, probably because they were more focused with "Uncharted 2: Among Thieves" at the moment. There are also several plot points that considerably impact the future of the series, some of which I am not entirely sure should end up in that direction. Some plot holes are also present.
"Jak and Daxter: The Lost Frontier" is a solid stand-alone game, but it is also a mere shadow to Naughty Dog's epic legacy. Daxter fans will enjoy it more than most, for he'll give clever one-liners more often in-game than he's been known to do in the past("Fine, let's NOT save Keira. I'm just kidding, you dope!" "Get your hands off him, you damn dirty ape!"). But "Jak and Daxter: The Lost Frontier" was mainly something to get me by as I wait for the eventual "Jak and Daxter" PlayStation 3 title. The game is definitely worth buying, but don't expect to be wowed.
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