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Game Profile
PlayStation 2
Naughty Dog
GENRE: Platformer
November 09, 2004
Jak and Daxter: The Lost Frontier

Jak and Daxter: The Lost Frontier


Jak X: Combat Racing

Jak II

More in this Series
 Written by Chris Reiter  on May 03, 2004

First Impressions: First they pissed Jak off. Now they want to kill him.

Some of the greatest movies in all of movie history are trilogies. Star Wars, Indiana Jones, The Matrix, and now The Lord of the Rings has pushed us over the edge and into the very depths of their roots, leaving us there dug and digging. With video games becoming more and more like our Hollywood favorites through use of epic storylines, dynamic visuals, character voice work that can even beat the crap out of many tiresome films of today (sometimes these roles being filled by some of Hollywood's brightest), and even gameplay mechanics able to duplicate or surpass the extremities you'll see on the silver screen, it's enough to say that all good things must come to an end. Believe it or not, this fall will see the death of one of the platform genre's latest and greatest newcomers: the Jak and Daxter series. But if Naughty Dog's intentions have been made clear enough, the truth of the matter is that if they must finish this innovative franchise once and for all, it'll damn well be an ending to remember.

Evidentially, hope is an indulgence Jak has no time for. After saving their home world the first time through, Jak and Daxter are sucked into a parallel dimension where Jak is captured and torrentially experimented on by the vile dictator Baron Praxis, in his new-world-to-be, Haven City. Rescuing Haven from under the Baron's clutch has only led to even more dismay. It's a year later now. Three separate warring factions aim to horn in on the action to take control over Haven's rule. Because of Jak's suspicious Dark powers and his previous ties in with those who sought to corrupt the city with the viscous and alien-like Metal Head species, he is henceforth banished from Haven City after its palace undergoes an unexpected attack by Metal Heads. Fortunately for Jak and his best pal Daxter, every run of bad lack has an upside. Jak, Daxter, and Pecker the talking parrot, now together and alone in a sprawling desert surrounding, are soon discovered by a gang of marauders. These outlander people introduce Jak and the other two to Spartus, a second city in which all of Haven's outsiders go to survive. And here's where Jak's next adventure is about to take off.

Last fall, Jak got stronger, tougher, and meaner than ever. He was a Jak very different from that friendly, spiky-haired elf-kid we first met in Jak and Daxter: The Precursor Legacy. He was Jak, pissed. As Jak was a changed man-elf, Naughty Dog needed a platform system that wasn't like any before it. What the company gave us was a game almost the same as one of the most popular and controversial releases of all time. That being Rockstar's Grand Theft Auto extravaganza. Similar to the Grand Theft Auto experience, Jak was able to steal hover cars, kill any of the random townsfolk who slogged around Haven City's blocks, and even get paid to take on missions for a nice lump sum. But that's all over with now. Jak's no longer in Haven's limits. He's been taken outside the box. For Naughty Dog to think beyond what they had from last year's presentation, they're going to rebuild by clearing away any wasteful rubbage from last year's efforts, and construct upward from those existing elements which remained intact.

Specifically, the whole Haven City, in its enormousness, was just that. It was really, really big! Walking around the Haven City interior was slow. Running was a little faster, but it still took a while. Stealing a ride was even quicker, but with the size of traffic hurdles around every turn and the fact that the Krimzon Guards would chase Jak endlessly if ever he were to crash into them or their ride, the journey of getting from place to place put a slump in Jak II's wares. Enlarging Jak 3's desert hub five times the size of Haven City, Naughty Dog has in mind something different this time: no traffic, and you have to earn your vehicles. Jak-ing is out and impressing the daylights out of mission-givers will be in, as walking up to a car and making it yours just won't do the trick anymore. Completing missions dealing with collecting various items out in the wasteland before a deadly sandstorm reappears (which is able to tear the skin right off Jak's back) is just one instance that will get you one step closer to driving new vehicles like a dune buggy, or one hefty car that's both capable of executing stunts, as well as letting surrounding enemies have it by nailing them with a hail of laser fire.

On top of all this, Jak will retain a four-weapon cycled status with some fresh fixers. One such example of destructive devices will have the ability to dispense floating orbs that while airborne, can eliminate all enemies in the area up until the point its round of ammo empties. Dark Jak will also return to cause mayhem, though not without his opposite half being there. Now exposed to light powers, throughout Jak 3 Jak will need to strike a balance between his innermost darkness and his new transgression into the path of light. While Dark Jak let players create dominating electric fields to destroy enemies, Light Jak will instead feature defensive and progressive properties that will allow for Jak to power up at any point in the game, and attach wings to his back; enabling him to glide across widened gaps, and even have Jak muster a shielding energy that will guard him from incoming dangers.

Continuing to diversify the already gorgeous existence of the Jak and Daxter graphic engine, Naughty Dog's giving gamers even more eye candy to taste at this fall. Jak and Daxter set players inside an environment that was both marvelous in appearance and all seamlessly linked together without load times. Jak II took things up a notch by placing players inside an even larger world, with many more moving objects all around, and new sparkling Dark powers. Naughty Dog now seeks to outdo both titles by increasing Jak 3's desert terrain five times the size of Jak II's Haven City, including Light Jak (adding a TRON-esque blue aura around him), and for the first time the series will implement both rag doll and cloth physics. Every enemy now will show off a unique death, as their bodies will bounce and slump into the position that they're physically intended for. Clothing-like objects will drape and sway around like a real fabric would. And with enemy AI's neurons being passed through a more studious course (they'll now climb walls and form more intelligent attack stances as one), Jak 3 should be a real treat to play on the hands as it will be to stare at on the eyes.

Final Thoughts
Making Jak 3 is both a good news, bad news scenario for gamers just as it will be for Naughty Dog. The good news is that the game is coming. The bad news is that not only will Jak 3 become the final episode in this acclaimed series, but Jak 3 will also mark the final project under Jason Rubin's lead -- one of Naughty Dog's original founders. If you look at the Jak and Daxter franchise like a movie though, specifically when compared to The Matrix series, you'll understand that first came birth, then came life, and now to conclude the trilogy, the touch of death approaches. Unfortunately fortunate, Jak and Daxter is in itself a cycle of life: one that gamers will soon see the good, the bad, and the ugly of.

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