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Certain parts of the press were eager to put Jak and Daxter out to pasture with The Lost Frontier, as disinterested reviews appeared to signal the end of the series time as a big-hitter. Despite sharing many qualities that gained its predecessors distinction, the departure of original developer Naughty Dog was all it took for some to deride it's suddenly-no-longer-brilliant gameplay mechanics and a perceived lack of invention. In fairness, franchises being handed over to new developers has frequently symbolised their decline - fans of Spyro the Dragon, Crash Bandicoot and Silent Hill have all suffered this traumatic post-fostering period. But if Jak and Daxter is to be pensioned off, this certainly isn't the game that signals its decline. Quite the opposite in fact; it is by all accounts a delightful surprise.
Notable for being the duo's first outing on PSP (although Daxter had already featured in his own excellent spin-off), The Lost Frontier's disappointing retail performance was as a result of an all-too-familiar lack of advertising and Sony's decision to simultaneously release it on the PS2. Somewhat inevitably, it was well and truly buried in the busy winter rush of 2009. Still, it did mean you could pick up a great adventure for under £10 just a matter of weeks after its release.
In the main, it plays a lot like its predecessors. It's not ashamed of this though, as Daxter quips early on "If there's one thing we're good at, it's arbitrary platform challenges mixed with heavy gunplay." And credit to the ottsel, he's pretty much hit the nail on the head. But High Impact Games weren't content at just following the blueprint. They've added a whole new flying element which is considerably better than anyone would have imagined, upstaging even the sure-footed platforming. There are times when it makes for favourable comparisons with revered adventure Beyond Good & Evil, and this can only be a good thing.
Though Jak is, as always, as hopelessly generic as a hero can reasonably be, the story he's involved with fares rather better. He's become something of a Sky Pirate, and has travelled to the end of the world (the Brink) to find new 'eco' power sources to help sustain the energy of the planet. This means for some familiar, on-foot 3D platforming mixed in with some new third-person flying/shooting in the surrounding islands. They're not in as an after-thought either - the flying bits are superbly crafted and offer some fantastic gameplay moments.
Flight controls are pin-point accurate and make for some fun dogfights. Enemies hunt in packs and are quite capable of tailing you, but this is where a host of nifty evasive manoeuvres come in handy; you can employ barrel-rolls, abrupt turns and corkscrews, throwing enemies off course with some cute timing. It's not all about playing the moving-target however; you can compete in shooting contests, hunt out hidden crystals, and tackle side-missions that see you tasked with blowing up freighters within a time limit. It's the exemplary customisation options that deserve the most kudos though.
And in this respect, they've really gone to town. There are numerous weapons such as missiles, lasers, machine-guns and electric bolts, all of which can be bought with scrap currency from the destruction of foes and completion of challenges, assigned and upgraded. Then there are a mountain of specific attributes that can be used to enhance the ships mobility, repair potency, various armour sections and the amount of damage your weapons deal. Because each of the planes acquired throughout the adventure allow for a different number of weapons and attributes to be assigned, each is distinctive, and you can tinker away sampling the different combinations for ages.
The flying also brings into play the amusing 'Daxterjacking' mini-game, which sees Daxter launch himself at an enemy plane and then, through a series of button combinations, steal a new piece of equipment - this is particularly useful as you can acquire loads of new stuff by employing this.
Pure platforming has never been the primary strength of the Jak and Daxter series, as it has tended to err more on the side of exploration than its predecessor Crash Bandicoot. However, the PSP's inability to sustain such sizable landscapes may have proven a blessing in disguise. High Impact Games have learned from the mistakes they made in developing the technically strong but dull Ratchet & Clank: Size Matters; there are far fewer empty locations, less filler, and more of an emphasis on platforming nous.
Jak's eco powers help here. He can attain abilities that lend him super-fast reflexes (essentially slowing platforms for a period to allow easy passage); he can create shield-ball defences against projectile fire; make pillars shoot out from the ground so as to halt a foe or, in specific circumstances, to bridge a gap or walkway. These are a mostly positive inclusion, and all of Jak's eco powers are called upon on numerous times throughout the adventure. Inevitably though, the need to switch between them, particularly on a couple of tricky boss-fights, isn't especially intuitive. The powers require the use of the D-Pad buttons to switch between and then use them - tricky when you're trying to move with the analogue nub.
The developers have made great strides since their last platforming venture, though The Lost Frontier is still troubled by annoying checkpoint placement that may see you save and quit after travelling far into a level, only to find yourself back at the start of it next time you load up. The Dark Daxter sections are the least successful of the games new tricks, even if they serve to add extra variety. A demonic version of Daxter can use a whirlwind attack as he crashes through levels which pose some switch-flicking logic tests, bashing the scenery up and beating up creepy crawlies. Generally, they make for an fine but unmemorable distraction. The use of Everybody's Golf's theme tune as elevator music at the end of these sections raises a smile though.
It's a bit of a looker. Whilst the character detail and FMV's are perhaps a shade less impressive than those seen in Daxter, they're still good quality and the flying sections once again bring the best out of the game with some beautiful landscapes and good looking crafts. A smooth frame-rate aids some tremendous battles, where destroying giant ships and weapons defences is made to feel very dynamic thanks to their being a great deal of action going on around you.
The music is suitably rousing and adventurous, whilst Max Casello's typically enigmatic delivery as Daxter once again steals the show voice-acting wise amongst a sea of other competent though less-standout performances. The one letdown on the audio side is that in many locations, there's a complete lack of ambience, meaning such locations as a bustling pirate ship and a bar end up sounding more like a library, with the lone echo of Jak's footsteps making this a largely inescapable sensation.
The story will take around 12 hours which is okay for a portable platformer, and then there's hours of play to be found unlocking everything for the planes, as well as scrounging together precursor eggs hidden away amongst the platform levels. These allow you to unlock a series of 'secrets', which range from the humorous (big head Jak; a moustache for Daxter), to graphical filter effects, and some playback features for previously attained cinematics.
The Lost Frontier is a fun, varied and engaging adventure which is raised t to a level of near-excellence thanks to some superbly enjoyable flying sections and a general willingness to be a little more adventurous with its platform challenges. It's not a definitive platformer - Daxter is the PSP benchmark and therefore still preferable - but it's also a lot better than many would have believed.
Jak and Daxter : The last frontier is the 5th game in playstations other big platforming exclusive (The other of course being Ratchet and Clank). The game throws in a variety of shooting and drving platform areas, all with a 3rd person view and was released late 2009.
Jak and Daxter is set in a world where gods once stood, now though they have all gone and all that is left is the strange substance called Eco. Eco has many different forms with certain colours giving strength, life or darkness, this is used in many ways throughout the series in weapons and machinery. It's an ongoing story for the two characters to learn about Eco whilst travelling the galaxy, along the way meeting new characters and facing new challanges. Their are pleenty of twists in the story and the world around you is constantly changing with new alliances being made, as Eco begins to run short and every one wanting a peice of it.
The story moves at a good pace and you are constantly moving and meeting new people, this gives the game a lot longer playtime than its competitor.
The game is quite similar to Racthet and Clank but many see it as a bit more for the older audience, due to difficulty and style. You still play as a main character , Jak , jumping around the level and solving puzzles whilst fighting a huge amount of enemies. But the game is less kind to the player as Jak can only take a small amount of damage before he is down, but thats where the frequency of green life Eco comes into play.
Vehicle sections are very important to the developers and the very first level is a edge of your seat fight against space pirates, this sets a great standard for the rest of the game and grabs your attention. Not only that but the game knows how to control vehicles, so quickly dodging and moving around in the ship is a pleasurable experience. The lock on system may not be equivalent to HAWX but it does the job and is easy to use.
The games level design is also alot less linear than other PSP games , with the world being semi-open and several routes can be taken to the final objective. This gives a bit more freedom but also adds a value to replaying through levels as something different is always around the next corner.
Most of the levels finish off with a token boss battle, these can be hit and miss as it is of the , wait around for the same movement than attack, type boss battles. As well as the usual issue of the camera rearing its ugly head again in the game, although this is only now and again when you are at the edge of the area.
Upgrading and unlocking is as bigger part of the game as ever, with the constant need to get new weapons or vehicles, or update your character to make them suitably powerful against the next boss.
Its also worth a great mention to the developers for the complete lack of any loading screen , as the next level begins to load whilst your on the current one. This means the hours can soon be whisked away from you as you realise you can't just stop at the next screen.
The combat in the game is well made, with 4 weapons to be used it may not seem much, but these are all powerful and upgradeable to a big level. They all work around 4 different types of Eco so the continuity of the games universe flows through every section, it also very easy to jump, roll and strafe when in times of danger.
Melee attacks are also powerful although getting into the middle of the enemies is not always the best idea, both Jak and Daxter(occasionaly) have their own moves and abilities making fights more intresting depending on the character.
As well as the storyline game, their is also the optional missions like going hunting for objects like orbs and weapons. These aren't anything too special but they add some extra gametime and are fun to playthrough as their are many and none are exactly the same.
Graphics are quite good for the PSP although not the best, colours seem slightly drab against Ratchet and Clank, as well as the graphics seeming slightly less smooth in their design.
However the game never lags or jutters , the whole way through the game it shows off all the different levels at 60fps.
The characters are nice with many different personalities, from the british posh pirates to the american pretty boy leaders. Their voice acting is one of the best on the PSP with everything coming in crystal clear.
As is the soundtrack, it's suitably epic for the adventure and is as good as a blockbuster movie. The atmosphere off of this is great and really gets you sucked into the game,suprising considering its a portable console.
The controls are very comfortable and a tutorial level appears at the start of the game for anyone new to this style of game, but the controls are pretty standard and respond well so you shouldn't have any issues with them.
The game is available on Amazon for £14 which is a good price for about 20 hours total gametime.
It's a very good game but a shame it doesn't get as much credit and following as Ratchet and Clank. I reccomend the game as long as you dont have anything important coming up soon.