Review by XCommander
"Extremely Awesome, but Collect-A-Thon haters beware"
Jak and Daxter was one of the most hyped games that was to be released for the Playstation 2. It was made by the folks who created the outstanding Crash Bandicoot franchise. It was supposed to deliver a “living” 3D world and to have free-flowing non-linear gameplay. Did the game live up to the hype? Certainly.
Jak and Daxter tells the story of well, Jak and Daxter. You see they are both inhabitants of Sandover Village, a small settlement on the southernmost portion of the world. Jak lives with his elderly uncle and Daxter is the village goof, but they are both best of friends. The village has always been peaceful, however, out on the horizon is the forbidden island, Misty Island. Jak and Daxter being adventurous fellows decided to take a boat ride to Misty Island. There they witnessed an uprising of Lurkers, the troublemakers of Jak and Daxters’ world. When carelessly wandering around the island, Daxter falls into a tub of Dark Eco, changing him into a weasel-esque being.
The two then race back to the mainland to ask for the help from the village sage, Samos Hagai. Samos is one of four sages of the world; he would be the green sage. The others are the Blue, Red, and Yellow Sages. Samos does not know how to cure Daxter, as Dark Eco is a mysterious substance, but he does tell him to go north to see a man by the name of Gol in the Northern Mountains. Gol has been studying Dark Eco for a long time and he is the only living person with some knowledge of Dark Eco. Thus, Jak and Daxters’ Journey begins.
You may have noticed the game is subtitled “The Precursor Legacy.” What is a Precursor? The answer is nobody knows, not even the Sages. What people do know is that they inhabited the world long ago and had knowledge of Eco and Machinery. I’ll get back on the Eco later on in the review, but the machinery the Precursors created is what Jak and Daxter must collect to get to other place of the world. The most important pieces the Precursors left behind were Power Cells. These are rare and valuable artifacts. They contain power to use for vehicles and the like. You must collect a lot of these to advance in the game. Another lesser type of artifact the Precursors left behind was the Precursor Orb. These are quite common and can be traded for many things in the world including Power Cells. Lastly, there are a few statues left behind in the world called Oracles. These statues speak to you about your abilities and of Precursors from a time long forgotten. You can purchase two power cells from each of them. The last collectable are scout flies, which are found throughout the world in cages set up by Lurkers. Collecting the machinery of the Precursors is the basis of the gameplay of Jak and Daxter.
I have mentioned Eco a few times in the review, but what is it? Eco is a mysterious substance that grants power to whoever uses it. Green Eco is the kind that grants health to the collector. It comes in small pellets, large pellets, and a vent. Collect fifty pellets and your health expands. Small pellets give you one unit, large pellets 50, and the Green Vents fill you up and give you invincibility for a little bit. Another type of Eco is Red Eco. Red Eco is the kind that gives you strength and all of your attacks will get stronger. Blue Eco, another type of Eco, makes Jak run faster and collectables around him will be pulled to him, Spyro the Dragon style. It can also activate ancient Precursor machinery. Lastly, is yellow eco, which lets you shoot yellow balls at things. There is a Dark Eco, but it kills you if you run into it. Eco is fun because it gives powers which are not of the norm for platformers.
Enough about collectables, let’s talk about Jak’s Skills. He controls like Crash Bandicoot, which is normal considering Naughty Dog made it (they created Crash). Jak can spin, crawl, punch, and run. The controls are very tightly configured to the Dual Shock 2. He can jump and double jump, which is nice. The developers also gave in to the platformer standard “Butt Stomp” and Jak has one of those, too. When Jak gets Yellow Eco, he can shoot 3rd person and/or 1st person which was a good idea from the developers because you may want to have some precision with Jak’s firing. So, overall pretty solid control. You might say it has all that you’d need for a platformer.
All platformers have mini-games and other diversions, and this is no exception. Perhaps the biggest diversion is the inclusion of an Anti-Gravity Zoomer. This is a sort of a plane you can use to get over lava and chase after flying people. It is quite nice. Then you have the Flut-Flut, which is an ostrich-like bird you can use in some stages to reach out of reach places. There are some small mini-games like catching fish, but they are just tiny distractions.
So, all in all how’s the gameplay? I’d say it’s a double-edged sword. If you don’t mind collect-a-thons like Banjo Kazooie or Mario 64 than you’ll have a great time. The game doesn’t get as mindless as Donkey Kong 64, but there is still a ton of collecting. The control is great and nobody could have a problem with it. So basically it’s all up to what you think about collecting.
For graphics, this game is quite amazing. This was one of the first games to truly show off the power of the Playstation 2 system. The game is still one of the systems finest up to this day. The world changes from day to night; this has been in RPG’s for a while but not so much in platformers and it is a nice addition. Perhaps the best thing about the graphics is the fluid animation of just about every character. It has by far the best 3D animation in a videogame thus far. Daxter shows great emotional and humorous poses throughout the game. The enemies are just as great as the characters, too. Everything is in a fairly high Polygon count too. My one complaint about the graphics, and it is a minor one, is that it is perhaps too crisp. If they had let the colors flow a tiny bit more it would look spectacular. Well, more spectacular than they already are.
Now for the music, the game contains some pretty strange tunes that play (Nothing out of typical platformer fare, mind you). They’re not grating, just not something too great. Fortunately music is not the aural standout, the voice acting is. Every single character in the game is professionally voiced. They show emotion and most of the time humor. You see most of the characters in the game are downright funny. The funniest by far is your sidekick, Daxter. His one-liners are one of the game’s high point. For every mess up you do and in just about every cut scene, you can hear him mouthing at everything. He’ll also run over you and talk to you when you die. Overall, it’s excellent. Oh, and I can’t get away without mentioning Gol’s voice. It’s none other than Dee Snider! Yes, big haired, obnoxious, Twisted Sister Dee Snider.
For lasting appeal, the game has quite a bit of it. What can you expect out of game that’s non-linear and has tons of collectables?
Overall, Jak and Daxter: The Precursor Legacy is a solid game. I really like its style, humor, graphics, and gameplay. My main concern is the music, but that is only a minor quip. The game fully deserves the 9 I am giving it. However, that is in my opinion. If you do not like collecting tons of items, than you might not agree with my score.
Reviewer's Rating: 4.5 - Outstanding
Originally Posted: 12/31/03
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