Remember 2001? It was arguably the greatest year for video games in history, and Naughty Dog’s Jak and Daxter made a significant contribution towards that year’s stellar, innovative selection. Since then, the two stalwart heroes have struck out on their own, each succeeding in their own adventures (the Jak titles for the PS2 and Daxter for the PSP), but we know the fans have always hoped for a reunion. Well, you’ll get exactly that some time later this year and although it isn’t a next-gen project for the PS3, handheld owners should be happy to get another fantastic action/platformer. And besides, even if you don’t have a PSP, you all have a PS2, right? Are you even allowed to be a resident of the Earth if you don’t? Anyway, after announcing Jak and Daxter: The Lost Frontier, several sources have gone eyes-on with the promising game, and that includes IGN, GameSpot, and others. A little of what they saw can be seen in the three screenshots we have for you; we’ll elaborate on the rest.
First of all, this is indeed a single-player adventure that focuses on platforming, combat, and…vehicles? Yeah, it’s true, but we’ll get to that in just a second. The premise is relatively simple: Keira has embarked on a “spirit quest” and everyone is trying to unravel the mystery of the world’s crippling eco shortage. This quest won’t be for the faint of heart, as you will be forced to travel to “the Brink” of the universe, which will be uber-intimidating thanks to a hostile, alien environment. We won’t say “barren,” though, because we have confidence that High Impact Games won’t skimp on the details just ‘cuz they decide to utilize a bleak, unknown setting. As proof of that, IGN saw a “jungle-like level,” where Jak was leaping about with his good buddy on his shoulder once again. We’ll get similar attacks and maneuvers that fans of the franchise are familiar with, but of course, depending on whether you play it on the PSP or PS2, the control scheme will differ. The L and R buttons rotate the camera in the handheld version, the d-pad will switch between your abilities and weapons, and the face buttons will take care of the actions (firearm, punch, spin, jump).
You may recall cool moves like Jak’s Uppercut, and while he will have access to many of your old favorites, don’t discount the new goodies. For instance, Jak will have a special staff-like weapon this time around; it’s basically only used for melee attacks at the start, but as you progress and administer upgrades, the staff becomes a whole lot more devastating. Laser attacks, anyone…? And if that’s not enough and things are getting dicey, Jak can always transform into a buff, Hulk-like hero with nutty superpowers that will erase baddies from existence. He needs Dark Eco to make the transformation, and although there’s plenty of this in the Brink, there’s almost too much. In fact, there’s so much that it actually hurts Jak to turn into his special form, so you can’t just horde the Dark Eco and run around as a bashing freak throughout your entire adventure. You’ll have to use a wee bit of strategy and save such a transformation for certain encounters. New abilities include the Construct Power (make platforms to use) and the Rocket Jump, which has Jak coating the ground with rocket fire from above.
Best of all, the game’s primary appeal seems to center on what we expect to be fluid and diverse gameplay, and the upgrades. Depending on the color of the eco you gather, you can use it to upgrade certain abilities (and, we assume, weapons), which ought to add plenty of longevity to a fairly straightforward title. Now, as for those vehicles: because being out in the Brink means you’ll traverse some very uneven and far-off environments, you’ll need the help of certain vehicles like the Hellcat. A jet in the shape of a sword comes fully equipped with machine guns and rockets, and you’ll have the chance to tweak your ship to your heart’s content! You can alter the weapon bay, speed and cosmetic style, so in addition to customizing the main character and his weapons and skills, you can even mess around with your means of conveyance. These are the kind of options you wouldn’t normally expect to find in PSP/PS2 titles; it almost feels as if we’re describing a PS3 game. Actually, with the exception of the obvious graphical difference, this might play exactly like a fresh title for the new platforms, and that’s great news for the J&D fans out there.
We don’t yet have a release date for Jak and Daxter: The Lost Frontier, but we’ll let you know as soon as SCE steps forward with that announcement.
4/7/2009 Ben Dutka