Review by tollbooth
The Precursor Legacy spawned a legion of fans and two blockbuster sequels, and I can not for the life of me figure out why. Jak and Daxter has got to be one of the biggest disappointments that I've come across in a long time.
The bottom line for this debacle is this: It's no Ratchet and Clank. With run-of-the-mill graphics and shabby play control, it's a hard press to compare this game to N64 platform adventures.
In the long standing tradition of platform games, Jak and Daxter is chalk full of, what I like to call, searchy-go-findy time fillers. You're either after precursor orbs the entire time, or you're looking for yet another scout fly or power cell. The game revolves around Jak and Daxter and their collecting of these various artifacts. There is not a whole lot else, when you slice through it.
(And why Naughty Dog even bothered to have Daxter in the game is beyond me, you never get to use him once; mostly he just pops off at the mouth. In Ratchet and Clank Clank was an invaluable edition to the team, but in this snooze fest, Daxter does nothing. I'd even dare to say that he is worthless and that our hero, Jak, would do just fine without him.)
Aside from the running around through the various levels collecting objects, the gameplay has little to no variety. Top shelf platform games tend to break up the monotony a little with a side quest or three, or, a mini-gamejust about anything to change the pace. All that Jak has is the seldom hover-bike race; which really isn't all that fun. You collect enough power cells to juice up the heat shields, and you balance on some of the worst controls in the business, racing through the course before your number's up from heat exhaustion, or you just plain die trying. Along the way, you try to collect what valuables you can. But, there's nothing else. Nothing.
You continue to fight the same hoard of enemies over and over again, which begs the question, Why bother with a weapon upgrade? Or, a character upgrade?
And, Naughty Dog answers in kind, Why ask why? And they give you no weapon upgrades, and no character upgrades. The moves you start out with are the moves you end up with five hours into the quest, or twenty. And for weapons? Well, not much passes for a weapon besides the traditional Mario jump attack and your fists. Sure, on rare occasion you charge yourself up with eco power juiced to the max with green, red or fire, and you may get to spit fireballs for thirty seconds or so, but these charges are few and far between as honest people on Capital Hill.
The Boss battles are lack luster and uninspired. You might die once or twice in the beginning, but once you get the pattern down, (and it doesn't take long) even your little sister would be hard pressed to take damage. And frankly, the icing on the cake is that there are only three big bosses. The first two, I call them easy plant guy, and easier beast guy, are pushovers, to say the least, and the last, the end guy, while possibly the most fun in the entire game, is as short lived as W Bush's high approval ratings.
But, the game is not all easy cheesy horse hops. Believe me, there are parts in which your controller will be lucky to survive your fits of rage. For Jak is made artificially difficult because of its controls. Folks, these are some of the most finicky controls in the business, with a double jump that spells disaster more often then not, and a camera that gets hung up on anything that moves, doesn't move or just plain doesn't exist. While all the moves were easily accessible, and the design was well laid out across the controller, the execution was poor. I really found myself shaking my head and wondering just how this game did so well. I guess the pickings were slim when Jak first bust on to the scene. And as the gameplay is not all bad as I'm making it out to be, it achieved average-at-best standings in my book.
The story itself is a decent one, but very cookie cutter by anybody's standards. Jak and Daxter, two furry human-types, are adventuring just where the wise Green Sage has told them not to go adventuring. Daxter falls into the negative-eco and turns into a wombat, or whatever he is, and they go to the Green Sage for help. He can do nothing, so he sends them off to the only two Sages that can. Problem is, they're the ones behind vat of dark eco and are bent on destroying you guessed it the world. So, off our duo goes, with help from the Green Sage and his got-the-hots-for-Jak daughter, to seek the aid of the remaining good-guy sages and save the day, the world and everything elseer, yahoo.
As I'm sure you have guessed, average seems to be a common theme throughout this review. The graphics are nothing different. They are not a cut above the norm, nor are they some of the worst eye sores that I've ever suffered a look at. The thing that slays me the most here, is that it was my understanding that Ratchet and Clank used the same engine to power its pixels. Maybe I'm wrong here, and Jak's II and III broke the mold a little more. Everybody tells me that parts II and III go above and beyond the call of duty, while The Precursor Legacy is a capable game, at best.
And I take it to be true-- for the graphics were entirely capable; if a little lacking in the style and originality department. I felt like I was romping through the famed Mushroom Kingdom all over again. Shouldn't Nintendo be ticked off? I was duped into thinking that unlike the majority of platform games, Jak was going to be differentdark, twisted. But it was not.
And the music was forgettable. So forgettable in fact, that I have forgotten it. It was uninspired, and furthermore: uninspirational. I didn't know if I was fighting a boss or falling asleep. Besides the Cold Mountain stage, none of the tunes seemed to reflect their environments. I could have been on the beach, or on the moon for that matter, the music wouldn't have told me the difference. Blind men beware.
But, I will say this, the voice-acting was fantastic. If only I played games for the voice acting. It was a pleasant surprise to see that Dee Snider from the infamous 80s cult band, Twisted Sister, was the voice of the villain. It made sense, and somebody was doing their homework. The only problem was, half the time, the music or sound effects were blocking out the VO's enough that you couldn't understand what the heck anybody was saying. And you would think that Naughty Dog would've gotten with the times and added a language/subtitles menu to the options. Look, not all of us have pitch perfect hearing, and even if we do, life dictates otherwise, so if a fire truck was blasting my airspace, I missed whatever was being said. Which in this game, isn't such a big deal, because whatever was being said, really did not carry a lot of weight anyway.
Look, I'm not going to tell you not to play this game. Especially if you're a fan of the series and are just curious. That's what brought me here. I had put off Jak and Daxter for too long, and decided that the best place to start was the beginning. You may do the same, and have to find out for yourself. I doubt that you can rent Jak anywhere, as at this point, it's old as the hills, but you shouldn't have to pay more than the eight to ten dollar range. If you do, they're asking too much, and your money is better spent on pizza. For one, as the game itself is very playable, it is an average experience, and another, the credits seemed like they were longer than the game itself. Seemed like I sat through about 30 hours of names, and 20 hours of gameplaythe majority of which was spent collecting trinkets for the ultra-secret-ending, which wasn't worth the time, and is played again as a prelude to part II.
So give it a whirl if you'd like, I'm not going to recommend that you do, because I think you would be better served starting with part II. But if you've played the others and are hungry for more, there is nothing stopping you but a lousy ten bucks and 20 hours of that life clock that's ticking away to nothing.
Reviewer's Rating: 2.5 - Playable
Originally Posted: 08/23/05
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