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Without wishing to be too unkind, Jak was always too dull a character to be the real star of Naughty Dog's enduring Jak & Daxter series. Even when they made him a bit evil, you never got the impression there was anything overly interesting going on between those pointy ears of his. No, he was merely a stooge for the true hero, his side-kick Daxter, to bounce one-liners off. The main line of sequels stuck stubbornly with Jak as their main protagonist, but five years on from the original, Ready At Dawn Studios (a modest gathering of former Naughty Dog and Blizzard employees) engineered a PSP title belatedly handing centre stage to wise-cracking, clearly amply-caffeinated ottsel. And the end result is superb.
Though it sounds blindingly obvious to say, one thing Daxter never loses sight of that a lot of its peers forget is that the platform element is the real challenge; the environments and their layouts are crucial in engaging the player, and are not there simply as a means of ambling from A to B. It is packed with great features, and crucially for the majority of the game they act as a compliment to the platforming side of things, not independently as a distraction. The main series had become increasingly muddled with its half-hearted open-world pretensions, combat racing and rickety shooting, making for platformers that in spirit weren't very er, platformy. Daxter doesn't make this mistake; it has no pointless rooms, no giant empty beaches and no five mile hikes to relay a simple message from one person to the next. In other words, there's very little filler.
Daxter's guise in the game is a bug exterminator. Via a (mercifully much reduced) version of Jak II's city, he travels to various locations such as hotels, mines, construction sites and the like, killing bugs and retrieving the yellow gems they drop, a designated number of which leads to the completion of the level and the opening of the next. He is armed with a fly-swatter, a variety of athletic moves and a pesticide-spraying weapon that later doubles as a flamethrower. It is a typically ingenious tool with all sorts of uses, including clearing cobwebs, melting ice-blocks, turning valves and of course, barbecuing enemies. Impressively, it can also be used as a thruster, granting the ability to glide across gaps for short periods, opening up a raft of possibilities for exploration.
Most importantly, these elements are integral both to the challenge of the game and as a means of ensuring it remains compelling, with no two levels following the same pattern of design. The analogue nub controls nicely and whether you're negotiating a series of tenuous jumps, torching bugs or evading prison patrols and crawling through sneakily placed vents, it is a consistently high-quality experience.
The frailties that do arise are minor and relatively few in number. For as long as 3D platformers exist, the camera is going to be a thorn in the side and unfortunately there are times when it won't rotate in enclosed spaces, and others when it moves just prior to a jump, leading to the odd ignominious death. In places, the city suffers from noticeable slow-down, though given the amount of detail and the fact it's chiefly a hub linking the levels, it can be forgiven. The narrative is largely superfluous with the ending proving something of an anti-climax, and whilst the story has never been the primary reason to get involved with the series, a stronger supporting cast would certainly have improved matters.
Graphically it's tremendous, sporting some of the best visuals ever seen on the PSP. The animation is fluid and Daxter looks particularly outstanding in the cut-scenes where you can see individual strands of his fur standing out, the picture quality is so good. The cartoony environments are chocked full of sumptuous, colourful scenic detail - the first-person view will be put to frequent use in admiring the locales, but it's also useful for scouring for the games secrets and hidden areas; there's a depth of design that is missing among similar titles.
Daxter may be relatively quiet in the field of play, though he's up to his old tricks in the cut-scenes and his generally frenetic, mad-cap nature suits the quirky universe in which the game takes place. The selection of dream sequence mini-games provide the funniest moments, because of how amusingly and effectively they spoof famous film franchises. One dream sees the hero in an Indiana Jones scenario, complete with hat and whip, with the aim of holding off snakes and spiders. Others see him parodying scenes from Braveheart and Lord Of The Rings, but the best is the mock-up of The Matrix that sees the Daxter decked out in suit 'n' shades mimicking Neo's crazy Kung Fu, as he battles agents from all sides. Each mini-game is similar to the last, all revolving around following on-screen button prompts; useful practice for some of the computer hacking exercises later in the game.
Staying true to Jak & Daxter's penchant for being a collect 'em up paradise, there's a glut of rewards to be had for those willing to look for them. There are 1000 Precursor eggs found throughout the game, which unlock the aforementioned mini-games as well as concept art and videos, and there are various other more imaginative extras such as items of clothing for Daxter and codes to unlock wallpaper, videos and galleries on the games website. The game isn't massive, but there's enough to keep you hooked for a couple of weeks at least.
Daxter is a must-have for PSP owners. Not only does it make the most of its hardware to create a truly beautiful-looking and technically adept portable game, it offers a far more extensive and rewarding 3D platforming experience than pretty much anything else of its time, with great controls and strong design from start to finish. And best of all, Jak's only in it for about five seconds.
I love the Jak and Daxter platforming series, but was initially tepid about a Daxter spin-off, given how lazy these sorts of cash-ins can be. Taking place between the first and second Jak games, Daxter, I can safely report, more than delivers the goods!
The mantra of "if it ain't broke, don't fix it" is strongly adhere to, and the popular mechanics of the other Jak games are well replicated on the PSP. The only major gripe is that the single analogue stick of the PSP makes camera control a tad awkward, but this isn't really all that bad. The platforming and combat elements are as strong as ever, and the game retains the same fun, sardonic sense of humour as the previous games. Also, like the other games, there are plenty of goodies for keen-eyed players; chiefly a bunch of fun mini-games to play.
Visually, this is a great game to show off the PSP. It was at the time of its release definitely one of the best looking, and it still looks great now. The frame rate is consistent, and the texture detail is of a robust quality. Aurally, the voice acting is great and totally befits the comic tone, while the sound effects are aptly wacky without being grating (ala Ape Academy).
My only real complaint to speak of is that the game won't last you long. It can be beaten in a casual afternoon, and even if you're a completionist, you'll have it done by the next day. If bought cheap, it's worth a go, but even with the excellent gameplay, it would be difficult to deem it value-for-money if you're plonking down a lot of dough for it. For its brief runtime, it is one of the best, if not the best, platformer on the PSP.
I bought this game a few months back as it was reduced to £9.99 and it's not really a genre that I would always be into but wanted to try it out as thought it would be fun and challenging. I have to admit although only part way through it I have thoroughly enjoyed it so far. There is plenty to do and many levels to complete, some of which have been easier than others. You run around as Daxter, a little rodent type creature in this 3-D universe and battle against bugs as he is a bug exterminator by trade. Each level at the start you are given your mission so you know what you need to do.At certain points he also has vehicles available to him and a variety of weapons.I
In the early levels you have a flyswatter as your weapon so have to get up close and personal with the enemies that attack you to kill them off by swatting them several times. They can reduce your life reserves but there are plenty of opportunities to replenish this when you kill bugs as first aid kits appears. Moving about the place is pretty easy while the graphics are nice as well.
As you progress you get given better weapons to use and also a backpack that enables you to hover which you will need quite a bit in future levels for example in the transit system. As I said some levels are harder to complete than others which makes this game challenging enough.
With some of the larger levels I found myself looking about and finding new things as I wanted to explore every nook and cranny. You have to collect certain objects to boost you ranking in the game.
I really enjoy the cut-scenes at the start of each level where you have to chat to characters to ascertain what is needed from you in this particular level. I particularly liked the dream sequence in between two of the levels where you have to eliminate 40 enemies coming at you in matrix style fighting and have to press the buttons at precisely the right moment. You can take about 3 hits before having to start again. I didn't find it easy but once you get the hang of it was fine.
Daxter himself is funny and has some witty moments of chat, although I played alot of the game without the sound as you can do without it really.
The graphics are pretty well detailed for this sort of game and the buildings are colourful with wonderful lighting effects that really bring it all to life when you travel about.
Overall you should buy this now especially at it's reduced price now it's been out a few years. It's highly entertaining and you won't find it all easy.
I loved this game eventhough it was ridiculously easy to complete. The main character (Daxter) is hilarious and cracks out jokes every cut scene which is great because not many games have this quality, they are all about the guns.
I seriously think this is one of the best games on the psp because the gameplay is fun, easy to play whilst you are on the move and open to almost anybody. This game could be played by anyone at any age really because it is so simple yet colourful.
There are tons of things to collect throughout the game which unlock certain things. This is just a platformer but with elements that are thoroughly enjoyable rather than repetitive rubbish some platformers offer you.
The sound and music is very enjoyable and quirky and fits in with the style of this platformer very well.
I did find a few bugs in the game which froze the game so i had to restart it but other than the glitches there was not much wrong with it at all!
The graphics are very nice even though they are not supposed to look realistic and the attention to detail is very good!
So, if you are planning on buying your little one a psp for that special occasion consider buying this as one of their first games. I am sure they will love it almost as much as you will.