Jak & Daxter: The Lost Frontier
Jak & Daxter, the popular platform duo, makes its comeback after having been gone for quite some time. Naughty Dog put the heroes aside after the “kart-racer” Jak-X to make the transition to the next-gen Sony consoles with Nathan Drake. Ready at Dawn who got praise for their Daxter and God of War: Chains of Olympus were too busy with their new game engine and a still unannounced title so it was time to yet again call in another studio to revive the dynamic duo. Can Impact Games keep up with the standard of the previous studios or is it time to give our heroes early retirement?
Those that have been following the series for some time know that Eco is the life power of Jak’s world, but that that is exactly where the problem lays. There’s a huge shortage on Eco which got the world out of balance. Jak, Daxter and Eco Sage-in-training Keira feel called upon like true heroes and go looking to the outer boundaries of their world, looking for an explanation for the shortage. Unfortunately things don’t go smoothly for Jak due to the many air pirates who love nothing more than to get their hands on Eco.
Although the Jak & Daxter games on PS2 were a closed trilogy this part perfectly follows on the previous storyline. High Impact Games builds further on the style that made the Naughty Dog Jak&Daxter games so popular. The new characters seem to have come over from those previous titles and perfectly fit in the atmosphere. Add a bit of comedy here and there and you would almost start to doubt whether this isn’t one of the original games.
Next to the storyline High Impact Games also takes over the gameplay of the first game. The platform part is central again which makes you jump, spring, sling and move levers a lot. Towards the end Jak’s arsenal of weapons becomes a key to solving the many puzzles. The disadvantage to this all remains the absent second analog stick that controls the camera as the often fixed positions don’t offer the view necessary to make a delicate jump. Frustration all over when you again have to redo a jump!
Jak no longer chooses for bare knuckle fighting but prefers a stick with which he can hit or on which he can place the necessary weapons. The latter aren’t new, by the way, but come from Jak 3. Sadly enough the aiming isn’t as easy as in that game and again the guilty party is the camera. Luckily hostiles quickly go down and this issue doesn’t cause too much trouble.
The biggest innovation can be found in some sort of Star-Fox flying levels. High Impact isn’t doing this for the first time as comparable levels have already been integrated in Secret Agent Clank and Ratchet & Clank: Size Matters. Jak starts the game with a blue Hellcat that has the necessary rockets to clear the air but these levels are still mostly used to fly from point A to point B and quickly start to bore due to the slow pace of your plane. One shouldn’t buy second-hand F16s from the Belgian army!
Graphically the game performs well for a handheld, the cut-scenes look good and the level of comedy is pleasant. The entire game is localised which makes it accessible for even the youngest amongst us and they probably won’t get irritated as much with the camera making things more difficult than they should be. No kids yet? No problem as also English language is present!
Despite the shortcomings with the camera Jak & Daxter: The Lost Frontier remains a fine game. The well-known comedy is present, the story perfectly continues the series and the gameplay still plays as before. All in all not a bad game for young and old who like some platform violence now and then.