Everyone knows about Naughty Dog, developer of the hit PlayStation platformer, Crash Bandicoot, who has since became an unofficial mascot for the console. Now they’ve marked their debut into next-generation gaming with Jak and Daxter: The Precursor Legacy, further refining the platform genre, and adding new meaning to the phrase ’emmersive entertainment’.
The controls is quite simple for a platformer. You can the jump, crouch and spin, just like in Crash. But you can also punch objects, and execute special moves by combining the functions. For example, you can do a jumping spin, nose dive (useful to break hard objects) and even a ’Dragon Punch’ uppercut move. There’s also a first person view mode if you want to take a closer look at the objects or environment.
Just shortly after the rather lengthy introduction, you’ll be given a taste of what you can do in the game by means of a training session. At it’s core, the game is just like every other platformer, it’s progression centers upon collecting items. You collect Precursor Orbs, egg shaped things that can then be exchanged for Powercells, which is essential for your progress. The Orbs are not always in plain sight, they can be hidden in boxes, which has to be destroyed using your spin manuevers.
You will also encounter various types of eco throughout the game. There’s the Green Eco, a small glowing green lights that’s similar to Crash’s whompa fruits. Collect 50 and you gain a level back on your health meter. Blue Eco speeds up your movement, enabling you to collect orbs faster as they gravitate towards you, and open door or activate devices. To increase your attacking power, useful for some of the game’s thougher enemies, just run through a Red Eco. Lastly, there’s also the Yellow Eco, which produces a ball of energy when Jak uses his punch move.
Aside from the Orbs and Eco’s you can also collect Scout Flies, small helicopter-like objects which were sent to each area by Keira. Collect 7 of those flies, and Kiera will give you a powercell.
Jak and Daxter employs a dynamic camera view, which follows you around. But sometime, the camera places itself at an obscure angle, making that jump almost impossible to execute. Luckily, you have the option to take control of the camera itself, by means of the right analogue stick. Smart move on Naughty Dog’s part.
A major difference between Jak and Daxter and other other platformer, is that you don’t have levels. Like in Crash, you have your warp rooms, which means that you have to complete all the levels/challenges in that room to progress to the next stage. In Jak and Daxter, there’s no such thing. You can freely roam the world and collect items at your convenience. Want to venture into the Forbidden Jungle first before going to the Sentinel Beach? Go ahead. If halfway you decide to change your mind, just leave. When you do come back, you’ll find the location just as you left it, i.e. it doesn’t reset like in conventional platformers. This makes the whole game like one huge level.
The graphics, in short, is simply stunning. The attention to detail is very frightening, with realistic and smooth character models and huge environment. The characters move with such fluidity that it’s almost on par with your big-budget Disney animation flicks. Hairs flap in the wind, and Daxter, who often hangs on Jak’s shoulders, behaves just like a real weasel (no pun intended).
The world in Jak and Daxter is huge. And I mean really huge. There are no fog to restrict your view. When at the top of the hill, you can see the sandy beach way down there, and what’s amazing is that you can actually travel down to that beach. There are various locations in the game, and when you move from one area to another, there’s no loading time. Yes, you heard that right. This emmersive technology, first showcased on PS One’s Soul Reaver, was further improved by Naughty Dog.
Fun is the keyword here. Experiencing the interaction between the two friends brings joy to my heart. The quality of the whole production is astounding, with perfect lip-synching when characters speak and hilarious dialogue make Jak and Daxter seems more like an interactive movie than a game. For the first time I almost miss those loading time. Almost..
Overall, if you want a fun game with hilarious characters wrapped in a beautiful world, then by all means get this game. A must buy, worthy of being everyone’s collection.
Former owner and editor in chief of Darkstation.com