Review by Geoboy
"Jak & Daxter save the world, and revolutionize the entire genre in the process."
Naughty Dog is at it again, and this time with a new set of heroes, ready to lay the Smackdown on a a certain Bandicoot. Who else, but Jak and his furry friend Daxter, two unlikely heroes, out to save the world from evil! But don’t let the cliched story line fool you, Jak & Daxter spews excitement and originality right into your face. Are you ready for a new experience in Platform adventuring? Read on my friend, read on. Oh, and be forewarned. This gamer didn’t stop himself while he was ahead. Just goes to show how addicting the game really is!
Jak & Daxter starts off when the two troublesome soon-to-be-heroes adventure off to Misty Island. Where they find the evil Lurkers scheming evil Lurker plans. As the two venture on into the island, they come across a mysterious artifact by a large pool of black liquid. Daxter passes it to Jak. Suddenly, a Lurker appears and Jak throws it at the Lurker, causing it to disappear. Jak flies back and knocks Daxter into the pool. He soon pops out and discovers that he has become an Ottsel, a small rodent. The scene cuts to the hut of Samos Hagai, an overall cranky Green Sage, who isn’t too pleased with what Jak & Daxter have done. He tells Daxter that in order to turn back to his former self, they’ll need to visit Gol, who might know of a way. And so the unlikely heroes are off to change Daxter back.
So that’s the story. Now, how does the game play? After all, that’s really what it comes down to with platformers. Smooth is a great word to sum it all up, but for this review’s sake, I’ll elaborate more. As stated in the sneak peak video in the December issue of OPM’s PS2 demo disc, movement is a very precise feature. Unlike most PS2 games, where pressing the analog stick the whole way would make a character run, and part of the way would make him or her walk, Jak & Daxter takes full advantage of the analog sticks and creates new animation for every level of pressure you use when you press the analog stick. While this might not seem like a big deal, the right speed can help you clear gaps, preventing possible overshoots or undershoots. Plus, it’s so darn cool! Naughty Dog really knows how to make things the best they can be, and it shows in Jak & Daxter.
Besides it’s smoothness, Jak & Daxter dominates as a solid platformer. You got your jumping, you got your numerous attacks, you even got your super cool Yellow Eco blasting action! The gameplay of Jak & Daxter is a little bit of everything; adventure, fighting, action, racing, even some first person shooting. What’s even more amazing is the way Naughty Dog blends all these elements together to create an ideal game that is Jak & Daxter. I’ll explain more about these in a bit, but first I’ll explain how the game actually works.
Basically, Jak and Daxter need to explore their world searching for Power Cells. They’ll have one major task at hand, and will need to get the required Power Cells to complete it. Jak and Daxter can acquire Power Cells in a numerous amount of way. Sometimes they’ll be able to find them lying around in some areas, but most of the time they’ll need to accomplish several “missions” or “tasks” in order to get the Power Cells. This can be as simple as getting from Point A to Point B, or as complex as stopping evil from stealing electricity, and then realigning energy towers to restore electricity to the village (Thank you OPM for the great examples.. =D). After you complete a task, a Power Cell is yours for the taking. There are also objectives that never change no matter what area you area in, such as finding and freeing 7 scout flies in an area. Oh, and you can also get quite a few Power Cells from collecting Precursor Orbs, which are scattered all over different areas, and then giving x amount of them to some greedy villagers for a Power Cell. It sounds pretty cheap of them, but you won’t have any use for Precursor Orbs except for trading them for Power Cells, so it’s not a large loss. Plus, there are very few cases where you can pay for a Power Cell. That’s not what being an adventurer is about!
Are you ready to go off and get them Power Cells? Not so fast young whipper snapper. You’re gonna need to know all sorts of maneuvers to pull things off. Besides the standard jumping function, Jak & Daxter sports a variety of moves to aid you in your quest, whether it’s reaching high places or defeating troublesome enemies, you’ll need to know what you can do before you go off and try to do it. First of all, Jak can do a variety of jumps, a simple jump, a double jump, a jump spin attack, a double jump spin attack, and a high jump. Believe it or not, you’ll have to use all of these if you want to succeed. What’s a spin attack? It’s just one of the many attacks Jak and Daxter have in store for those nasty enemy Lurkers. But when a spin attack won’t cut it, why not a charging run to knock them off their block? Or perhaps you’d prefer a powerful uppercut right towards their mouths? It sounds violent, but there’s no such thing in the game. Just good, clean fun, and some serious kicking enemy butt! Oh, and as always, each attack will need to be used in order to beat the game, which is great because.. it’d be such a waste! Alight, I’m done with my so-called “informative paragraph”. For the sake of the review, I’ll start making sense again. This journalist isn’t about to rant himself crazy while gamers await my verdict!
Jak’s attacks and moves might seem like enough, but the thing is they really can’t compare with Eco (pronounced EE-ko), the life force of the planet. And get this, there are FIVE different kinds of Eco, Green Eco, Blue Eco, Red Eco, Yellow Eco, and Dark Eco! Wow! That’s a lot of Eco! Every form of Eco (with an exception of Dark Eco) can help Jak and Daxter out, so you’ll need to be sure to use every Eco to your advantage. The best part of it is that it can be attained from almost anything, the land, a box, a hidden platform, and it regenerates itself. But enough babble, I’m everyone would like to know which Eco and which, and HOW it helps. Oh, and by the way, when Eco is taken, Jak can only channel it for a certain amount of time, depending on his Eco gauge, which steadily decreases if he does not recharge himself with an orb or a vent of that Eco. Confused? Well, I’m amazed you’ve made it this far, with all my side comments and such.
First up, there’s Green Eco, the life Eco. Green Eco almost always appears as little green orbs that you attain from smashing crates. Jak has 3 heart pieces, and each time he is damaged, he loses one piece. Lose all, and it’s curtains for Jak. This is where Green Eco comes in. If you can collect 50 Green Eco, you’ll be able to restore a piece of Jak’s heart container! And if 50 sounds too much, there are some rare large Green Eco pieces that can restore one heart piece instantly! Like I said, Green Eco appears in crates which appear almost everywhere, which is good, because when facing hoards of Lurkers, you’ll need all the help you can get! Blue Eco is the next kind of Eco that I’ll cover. It is, essentially, the Eco of speed. Blue Eco gives Jak a jolt of energy, allowing him to jump higher and run faster. Blue Eco can also open up special doors and activate Blue Eco Platforms and Precursor Launchers, which launch Jak off high into the air! As if that wasn’t enough, Blue Eco can also attract other objects, making Jak a human magnet to Precursor Orbs and other goodies! Blue Eco is the second most common Eco in the game, and you’ll need it a lot! It appears all around the planet, either lying around, in crates, or in Blue Eco vents, which give Jak and full meter of Blue Eco While speed and health is good and all, I’m sure everyone likes the sort of Eco that can give Jak super human strength. Well, I can’t promise a super man, but Red Eco gives Jak incredible attack power that can perish enemies in one blow. Talk about power! Red Eco is not very common, and always conveniently appears where a large group of enemies are. It can be found in crates, in Red Eco vents or just lying around. If Red Eco didn’t but it for you, how about Yellow Eco, the projectile Eco? When Jak channels Yellow Eco, he can fire streams of energy at enemies and other objects. This is great for hitting tough places. Yellow Eco, like the others, can be found lying around, in crates, or in Yellow Eco vents. Phew... Lastly, there is the one kind of Eco you’ll want to stay away from, Dark Eco! The Eco responsible for this entire mess! Dark Eco can hurt Jak and his buddy Daxter, so make sure to stay away from it at all costs! It can be found in yellow containers with caution markings on them. Stay away from the Dark Eco!
Whew! That was quite the summary! Hopefully you know all you need to know about Eco. But sadly, I am not yet finished with my Gameplay coverage. But don’t worry! I’ll keep it as brief as possible. Throughout the game, there will be missions where you’ll need to use the A-Grav Zoomer, a very cool vehicle to complete certain tasks. The zoomer gives the game a whole new sort of feel to it. This is the first great attempt I have seen at tying together the racing genre and the platformer one!
Oh! But wait! One more thing! If all that wasn’t enough, this special feature will really get the gamers going! NO LOAD TIMES! Ever! The loading that has haunted platformers before Jak & Daxter is no more! Characters move slowly in and out of worlds. There’s no sort of drastic area changing, so it’s actually realistic! But who cares about realism when you can have to satisfaction of not waiting five hours for the next area to load! *faints of over excitement*
Now that I’ve got the gameplay down (and boy howdy, did I get it down!), it’s time to discuss a less important, but still EXTREMELY well-done aspect of the game. What else could I be talking about, other than graphics! Before I ramble, I’ll state my feelings about the graphics in one simple word, for those who can’t stand me: “AMAZING”. A-maz-ing. The character models alone show the true power of the PS2, but the environments... they are about 100 times as powerful. One could spend hours in the game not doing anything but walking around and looking at the fascinating, glitch-free environments. What makes it even better is that each “area” is entirely different, so you’ll be able to witness a winter wonder land, a mysterious jungle, and a lava pit of horrors (Sorry for the lame examples!). Naughty Dog has spent a huge amount of time getting environments down, making Jak & Daxter quite possibly the most graphically advanced PS2 game yet. Make sure to check ps2.ign.com’s review for some great pictures. You’re gonna have to see the environments for yourself.
Characters and such are also highly detailed. It seems that there are more polygons in Jak alone than an entire screen of a Crash game. It’s just like that. Plus, characters look very unique and interesting, making their large polygon amount worth it all the way. Enemies also are plentiful, in many different forms. Many different complex and vivid forms. Oh, and they’re all in a cartoonish sort of style, for those who care.
If you thought that wasn’t enough, get this: There are NO FMVs in Jak & Daxter. The in-game graphics are so good, you can barely even tell. You’ll be fooled a few times. Never before have such graphics been used as real time sequences.
I really can’t elaborate more over the excellence of the visuals in Jak & Daxter. You really need to just see it for yourself. It is amazing. It is amazing (I sound like a broken record).
My gosh, this game has everything! Great gameplay, amazing graphics, and if that doesn’t do it for you, wait until you take a listen at the audio. First and foremost, the voice acting is the best I’ve heard in a video game! The voice actors have very lively and exciting voices, and fit their characters perfectly. I absolutely love Daxter’s voice, it really gives him so much character. Without the great voices, you would never feel such an attachment to the characters, even the minor ones. It’s like you’re watching a Disney movie, only without the singing.
Sound effects are also topnotch, especially during sequences (As if the voices weren’t good enough!), which make the game feel like a real cartoon (not to be used as a bad word, mind you). When playing the game, the sounds of crates breaking and enemies being whacked upon certainly sound crisp, and never really become repetitive and annoying.
Speaking of which is the music, a very sparse, but still good aspect of the game’s sound. Because of the no loading time feature, music needed to take up minimal space, and thus, there isn’t a whole lot of it in the game. Which is good because I don’t know how many times I’ve played a platformer with annoying music that gets stuck in my head for hours. No complaint here.
This is where it’s gonna hurt. The replayability in the game, well, quite frankly, there is very little. Once you beat the game, there’s no use in playing again (except for the hidden ending, which isn’t all too hard to acquire for an average gamer). What even hurts more is the fact that Jak & Daxter is incredibly short. I’ve been able to beat it in 5 days, but hear me out first, because this part shouldn’t ruin the game completely.
Jak & Daxter can be as long as you want it to be. It’s addictive gameplay can tempt you to play for hours a time, but you should take a while to just explore the world around you. Don’t feel that you need to beat the game if you buy it, because believe me, if you think that that’s the case, like me, you’ll easily accomplish your task. It’s not a particularly easy game, just a very addictive one. My advice is to make sure not to go at such a fast pace.
Ultimately, there’s nothing to do when you beat it. So let it last, for as long as you want. Not the best advice, but, I’m trying to sell this game to you, and I don’t want this part to ruin everything.
Jak & Daxter is the platformer that has everything you’d want. Great graphics, great story, great sound, great gameplay. It’s the ideal platformer, and it ‘s setting on the game shelves right now, waiting for you to pick it up.
So what if it’s short? Jak Daxter deserves only the best for it’s genre-combining, great sounding, great looking self. The best, being a perfect 10, the highest score I’ve ever given a game yet (well, I’ve only done two reviews). Truly, this is a great game. Truly. Truly. TRULY. (Next in the news, broken records invade the planet)
• Beautiful and rich environments
• A variety of genres blended into one great adventure game
• Superior voice acting
• Non-annoying music
• The best gameplay in a platformer for a PS2 yet! Come on, you know you read my huge Gameplay section. How could you not?
• Highly addictive (could be a con if you actually have something else do to in your life other than play games!)
• It’s too short, and there’s very little replay value if you beat the game before.
If you REALLY want to beat this game, then rent it. If you play long enough, I can almost guarantee you’ll beat Jak & Daxter. But why waste something good? If you want to really experience the game, buy it. Even if you do beat it sooner than you want, I don’t think you’ll feel cheated. Plus, there’s no rule against not playing the game again!
Oh, and BTW, don’t let the “E” rating fool you. This game can be enjoyed by anyone, not just kids. Some of the scenes made even me laugh, and I’m not even ALOUD to laugh.
Reviewer's Score: 10/10 | Originally Posted: 01/02/02, Updated 01/02/02
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