Jak is back! One of Sony's quirkiest duos continues their story onward from Jak III, as the stalwart and wise-cracking heroes struggle to uncover more secrets of the eco. Sky pirates, huge cities and plenty of other exotic platform-filled locations await platformer fans.
- Fun, classic platforming gameplay, with plenty of aerial levels
- Looks and sounds great
- Surprising level of ship customization
- Some serious camera issues
- Occasionally very difficult -- partly because of the camera
- Nothing new here
Jak is back! The PS2 icon had plenty of hits earlier this decade, but has been painfully neglected for some time. Thankfully, the latest iteration -- though out of Naughty Dog’s hands for this PSP and PS2-only adventure -- retains the series' charm. High Impact Games (also responsible for the handheld Ratchet & Clank spin-offs) delivers a new adventure with Jak & Daxter: The Lost Frontier. This new game picks up right where Jak 3 left off, and it’s full of the great 3D action that defines the series.
The quest for usable eco -- the power source of Jak's universe -- takes a more urgent turn this time. Jak and company are at odds with sky pirates and other strange denizens as they all seek out the secrets of dark and light eco. Jak and Daxter both have to contend with newfound eco powers, including a great Hulk-like transformation for Daxter. Odds are that if you're thinking about picking up The Lost Frontier, it's because you liked the platforming action of the original J&D adventures and in that sense, the game doesn't disappoint.
The Lost Frontier is divided between two styles of gameplay. The first is traditional 3D platforming, exactly what you'd expect from a game so inspired by the PS2-era classics. Jak will leap, climb, and shoot though psycho robot-infested forests, lava-filled caverns and canyons, steampunk cities, a pirate airship, and cover other familiar, but good-looking locales over land, sea, and air. As you explore, Jak earns special eco-powered, upgradeable perks like rocket jumps, exploding energy balls, the ability to create temporary platforms, and even the power to slow time. His gun staff is also upgradeable, letting you zap enemies with shotgun-like blasts, chain gun, energy beams, and more.
The Lost Frontier also effectively integrates aerial combat and exploration alongside the classic platforming elements. Take flight in Jak's Hellcat or pick from a variety of other pirate fighters. These vehicles are amazingly customizable, thanks to a wide array of upgrades. The flying levels range from linear, fast-paced pursuits, carrier ship attacks, and plenty of dog fights, among other standard mission types. When simply exploring, your mini-map points out side missions as well as the main objective, allowing for plenty of leeway in how quickly you wish to blow through the main storyline. The flying portions of the game flow nicely, and many of the locations have an impressively expansive and open design.
A Bit of That Old-Timey 3D
The rest of the game certainly doesn't try to evolve. The Lost Frontier is an unadulterated migration of the series to the PSP, and the action is so familiar that Daxter makes occasional quips about platformer clichés. Fortunately, the core gameplay keeps all the fun, humor, and challenge of the PS2 games. The levels are engaging, the dialogue is funny, and hidden bonuses abound.
Unfortunately, not everything that’s old-school (as old-school as 2002 can be) is good, and the camera causes frequent problems. Many of the more challenging levels are made unnecessarily so thanks to camera issues. Add in a number of timed missions, and casual players might occasionally be in danger of throwing their PSP out the window.
Classic Platforming on the Small Screen
Camera issues aside, Jak & Daxter: The Lost Frontier's strength lies in its humor and comfortably engaging gameplay. The visuals are sharp, detailed, and colorful and the voice work is great. The story, level design, and characters reflect the original games’ clever playfulness, and this is definitely a worthy addition to the series. There's nothing astonishingly original here, but The Lost Frontier is simply a great platformer that lives up to the Jak legacy.