Jak & Daxter: The Precursor Legacy
Players: 1 Player Game | Release Date: 12/03/01 | Genre: Platform
When I think back to the days when the Playstation, Saturn, and Nintendo 64 were competing for dominance in the console market, developer Naughty Dog created a new mascot, Crash Bandicoot, for Sony to use to market against Mario and Sonic. The rest is videogame history as Crash went on to star in several sequels and become a household name. While it is true that Crash was not as good of a game as Sonic or Mario, Naughty Dog began to visualize their next title� After years in development, Jak & Daxter: The Precursor Legacy has finally been released and let me tell you--I am amazed at how fun and polished this platform title is.
Players take control of a scrawny boy named Jak who must embark on a quest to rid the world of Dark Ico and at the same time save his buddy, Daxter, who has been transformed into a furry little squirrel-like creature. While Daxter is small enough to sit on Jak's shoulder, his mouth is large enough to keep him in trouble with everyone he encounters. However, his comments are invaluable as players progress through the game world. For instance, if you are walking through the game world and aren't sure what to do--Daxter will give you a tip and say something like: "We should go talk to that fisherman guy," or "Lets get to the top of this tower and see what is on top."
One of the most impressive features of Jak & Daxter is the lack of load times. Once you reach the title screen and start a new game, you will never encounter a load screen. This is something that I am not accustomed to seeing in Playstation 2 titles. However, thus far in its early life, the GameCube has virtually no load times in all of their titles. Perhaps this will be something all CD/DVD based consoles will offer in the future.
Almost as impressive as the lack of load times is the graphics. When I first saw Jak & Daxter back at E3, the game was nice looking--but not incredible. However, since that time, Naughty Dog has cleaned up the graphics tremendously. In fact, I would go as far as calling Jak & Daxter an interactive cartoon. Everything in the game world is bright and colorful, reminding me of a Disney cartoon. The only problem I had with the game engine is that at times it will slowdown when the action gets a little too intense. This slowdown makes me think twice about the power of the Playstation 2. Remember, this console only has 8 MB of Video RAM available and the developers should have worked a little harder to get rid of the few moments that slowdown appeared on screen.
The gameplay in Jak & Daxter takes place in the Precursor world where there are multiple zones or levels to explore. In each level, there are a variety of tasks to complete that in every level such as: collecting power cells, locating orbs, and finding the golden bugs. Besides these, the player will be asked to complete other tasks as well that are specific to each zone. In some areas you may be asked to complete a task, such as locating an item, for a power cell. This provides a lot of variety in the game but at times players can feel lost because it can be easy to get lost in the large zones.
Your life bar allows for three hits. However, as you break open chests and defeat enemies, small green orbs will be left behind for you to pick up. Once you collect fifty of these orbs, you will be able to replenish your life bar.
If there is one thing I would have liked to see Naughty Dog include in Jak & Daxter is a button that would place the camera at an optimal angle. However, the only way to control the camera is to manually move it with the right analog stick. While this provides you with complete control over the camera system, it can become frustrating if you are chasing after an enemy or running away from one (hey, even heroes know when it is time to split!).
Overall, I am impressed with Jak & Daxter. While there are a few minor annoyances in the game, it is a very fun and enjoyable title that belongs in the library of all PS2 owners. Due to the lack of a good Mario platform title on the GameCube this Christmas, Jak & Daxter is hands down the best platform game available on any console. It looks like Sony has yet another winning franchise on the Playstation 2.