Review by BigCj34
"Even fter a few sequels, Jak and Daxter still remains a classic unique to the rest of the series."
Jak and Daxter was developed by Naughty Dog, the masters behind the Crash Bandicoot series on PSone, and moved on to Jak and Daxter, released at the end of 2001. While Crash Bandicoot has received mixed reviews from its new developers, Jak and Daxter was a success, and two sequels have followed up, plus a racing car and PSP spinoff.
Jak and Daxter when released was seen as a game that "redefined PS2 platforming," and it's not hard to see why today. While newer games have probably superseded this 5 year old title, it still remains a highly commendable platformer today for a bargain price. The story starts off with a naration from Samos, the Green Sage, narrating about the long lost precursor secrets, which lie only in "a young boy named Jak, oblivious to his destiny" who is captured lieing lazily in a boat. The duo go to Misty Island, the place they're told NOT to go due to its dark eco presence, and also it is infested with lurkers. Ignoring the order, they're on the island anyway, by the dark eco pool and while Jak defeats a lurker woith a barrel the shock sends Daxter into the pool to change his appearance forever. Back at the Green Sage's place Samos tells Daxter the only person who can helphim regain his appearance is Gol, where they have to travel to their citadel and ask him, if only they didn't get sidetracked by plans influenced from their tinkering with dark eco.
The game's formula represents nothing new to the platforming genre, but what it has shown has been done in style, to bring all the elements of platforming to the PlaySation 2 with a bang. The game has been drawn to comparisons from earlier platformers such as Super Mario 64 an Banjo Kazooie, from collecting items known as power cells needed to progress, as SM64 uses stars for prizes for instance. The most obvious comparison is straight from Naughty Dog's ancestor, Crash Bandicoot, from it's emphasised use on everything being in boxes, to Jak's spin moves and headbutss. However, the apples have been replaced with green eco.
There are three kinds of collectables in the game, the most important being power cells, as a certain number are needed to progress to sections throughout the game. Next of all are the precursor orbs which function as a currency that can be exchanged for mostly power cells, while scout flies are scattered around each level where freeing all seven result in...you've guessed it, a power cell! The games weaponry functions around a substance called eco, in which there's four usable types, blue, green, yellow and red, plus the harmful dark eco. Baically, green fills up your health, blue enables you to move faster and activate blue eco based platforms, red increases your strength and yellow allows you to fire eco balls at enemies. Vents and pure eco themselves are found lieing around various areas of levels, experiment and see what they all do!
Jak and Daxter pulls all the ropes and levers properly to bring a quality platform game to PlayStation 2. The first notable feature of the game is the fact that you can just wander to anyway without loading times, as all the levels are seamlessly integrated into one big world. There are three hubs, the beautfiful seaviews and sunsets of Sandover Village, the sorrow rainy Rock village and the lava filled Volcanic Crater, all connected together through a passway which can't be accessed, for whatever reason, until you haver enough power cells, with levels accessible off each hub. The orbs have been greatly scattered around the level, not so many in inaccesible places but many in inaccessible boxes, which you need to find eco to blast them open for many of them. The biggest challenge comes with the power cells, as 8 power cells in a level appears to be very intimidating, leaving you scratching your head for what else you need to do, especially in levels such as the Spider cave, before you give in and check the excellent guides on this site or assistance ;-).
The variety of action in levels has been seamlessly scattered around throughout the game. The Forbidden Jungle level gives you the first change of the taxing platform jumping that you encounter throughout the game, while levels such as Boggy Swamp and Snowy Mountain focus moreso on blasting enemies clean with yellow eco, while the Precursor Basin is no stranger to head-scratching for what to do next, while Spider Cave just throws in every kind of puzzle you've ever done in the game to scare you for a couple of hours. The enemies in the game all behave accordingly, as in every single one chase you, like a true platformer should be, while there's enough moving precursor platforms in the game to remind you that Jak and Daxter is a game worthy of the platforming genre and not an RPG, an FPS (well, not yet) or a soccer game.
Jak and Daxters graphics have been beautifully designed, with a strong cartoon style, and while the character models could have been designed better in the cutscenes, the environments look beautiful and cartoony with vivid bright, fun colours plus well designed buildings and articles to relate to the precursor theme. The sunsets of the first hub are something to just make you stand there and zoom through the goggles to look at it once you notice the day and night that occurs throughout the game, while the animations are excellent and smooth. The same can be said for the soundtrack, not creating fancy meldies but a real atmospheric tune which suits every level. The voice acting has been well casted, with cartoon style sequences and goofy voices for some charcters, although none hardly make you laugh out loud, but are great to watch nonetheless.
The only problem's with Jak and Daxter are mainly it's slight shortage in length. The game can be quite easily completed in a fortnight for a casual game, playing it for a couple of hours a day at most. The lack of challenge is perceived by certain people but the game just doesn't get far enough to be ultimately challenging, while the Rock Village hub is quite taxing ,only in the last hub does the difficulty begin to curve, not giving enough time. For me, the game represents a decent challenge but could have been longer. Aside from that, the camera can be quite erratic at times, often I had to manually adjust the camera manually, which is easy to do with just moving the right analogue stick, but it would be nicer without it, and at times the game camera spontaneously switches to a side scrolling mode when levels reach that part, especially when you don't quite want that.
Graphics Beautiful scenes, awesome animations and great cut-scenes 9/10
Sound A fantastic mood-setting atmosphere and great voice-acting 9/10
Gameplay Classic platfroming action commendable even in 2006, fun, frantic box bashing and platfrom hopping. 8/10
Length A little short, not giving enough chance for the difficulty to pick up. 7/10
Jak and Daxtrer is a great game, and while the action feels a little sluggish at the start, it picks up to be a fun and thrilling platformer. The game is a little short, but represents a fun, solid experience that any PS2 owner should get if you see it on a bargain. 8/10
Reviewer's Score: 8/10 | Originally Posted: 09/18/06
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