PSP Review: Jak and Daxter: The Lost Frontier

Eco, eco and even more eco…

Amazingly, Jak and Daxter is yet another classic gaming series that somehow eluded me when it was around. I’m completely unfamiliar with it, so as a newcomer…will I see what all the fuss is about?
The dynamic duo Jak and Daxter are back in an all-new adventure on PSP that picks up the action where the previous trilogy left off. Jak and Daxter’s planet is slowly dying due to a lack of Light Eco. To save the day, our heroes team up with their old friend Keira in search of the ancient Precursor machinery that will prevent their planet’s demise.

Whether battling Sky Pirates in a customisable aircraft or blasting Aeropeans with the punishing Gunstaff weapon, Jak and Daxter’s journey will take them beyond the edge of the Brink – and into a war bigger than they ever could have imagined.

The story is a mixed bag, while I can begin to see the importance of this eco stuff…is it really necessary for every character to mention it in almost every line of dialogue? I swear if I hear that word one more time I may just lose my mind. The gameplay is a mixture of platforming, combat and flying battles.

If there’s a major criticism to be had, it’s that the flying sections are repetitive and last too long. I personally found no enjoyment from playing them, not only because the handling leaves a lot to be desired…but because the objective is usually a case of just taking out a handful of ships, but it gets repeated way too often…there are a few differences, but you will come across most of them quickly and become frustrated that it seems like they’ve recycled the same bit over and over. There are also a number of quick-time events to be found, but whatever idiot decided to use the PSP’s analog stick for some of them needs shot.
Besides the mayhem in the air and platforming, combat is awkward and unsatisfying. The handling leaves a lot to be desired, even with upgrades. Perhaps the game’s strongest aspect is its platforming; while hardly groundbreaking does a good enough job. The story isn’t the greatest, but the script for the characters is mostly decent…add in some good voice-acting and music that doesn’t overpower and you have a strong presentation. If only the gameplay matched it.

It’s not all bad, but I do think that it could have benefited from a bit more development time to iron out some of the issues that hold the game back from being a must-have title. There are some great moments to be found in The Lost Frontier, but they are so few and far between that most will simply overlook this game. I have to admit, I did have much more fun with Ratchet and Clank’s (possibly final) game.

Visually, the game is quite strong on the PSP and runs smoothly. The character models are detailed nicely and the levels look great, even the flying sections look good. But this is proof that visuals aren’t enough to make a game great, you need some serious gameplay to back it up and The Lost Frontier fails to deliver on most aspects. I’m not saying that it isn’t a game you should avoid, oh heavens no…you will enjoy it if you can look past the repetitive flying sections and awkward combat, but if you can’t then maybe it would be for the best.

The Verdict

Jak and Daxter: The Lost Frontier could have been great with a bit of extra polish and less repetitive gameplay; instead it feels like a missed opportunity for them and a victory for Ratchet and Clank.