The lights are on
What new ideas the game brings to the table and how well old ideas are presented.
How good a game looks, taking into account any flaws such as bad collision or pop-up.
Does the game’s music and sound effects get you involved or do they make you resolve to always play with the volume down?
Basically, the controller to human interface. The less you think about the hunk of plastic in your hands, the better the playability.
Flat out, just how fun the game is to play. The most important factor in rating a game.
I went into Jak and Daxter: The Lost Frontier with low expectations
considering the Jak saga already received a satisfying ending with Jak
3. For a developer other than Naughty Dog to continue the game’s
narrative seemed silly and unnecessary. Though I was not impressed by
demos of this PSP continuation of the series, developer High Impact
Games has turned my opinion around entirely with the full game.
with Jak 2 and 3, The Lost Frontier features a large open world to
explore. Unlike those titles, though, the open part largely takes place
in the sky. Early in the game, Jak gains access to a large airship that
he can steer toward five different zones. Once in a zone, he can take
to the sky in a handful of smaller vehicles that allow him to explore
and land on different islands.
The air combat portions are
suitable – like Ratchet & Clank’s take on battling in space, it’s
nothing special, but it gets the job done – but fans are probably most
interested in the ground missions. Though High Impact’s level designs
aren’t quite up to Naughty Dog’s hyper-polished standards, they emulate
the latter’s mix of platforming and gun combat extremely well.
has four different guns at his disposal, and he also gains various
magical Eco abilities throughout the game that can be used both for
puzzle solving and combat. For example, the red Eco ability releases a
ball of energy that blows up when shot. This explosion can expose
hidden pathways or open sealed doors in the environment, or it can be
used to deal extra damage to a particularly tough baddie. It’s easy
enough to breeze through the game just using your guns for combat, but
the abilities provide room for experimenting with more interesting
The combat would be the highlight of the game if not
for some annoying camera control and aiming problems. Because the
shoulder buttons are devoted to spinning the camera, there’s no way to
lock on to enemies or strafe, so expect to run in circles a lot hoping
for your auto-aim to catch nearby bad guys when you have a chance to
stand still and fire. It’s also frustratingly difficult to switch Eco
abilities or guns using the d-pad in the midst of an intense battle.
exploration and combat sequences are split up by the occasional Daxter
level. In the Lost Frontier, these come in the form of “Dark Daxter”
stages, where Jak’s cute sidekick transforms into a giant furry
monster. In his new form, Daxter must bash waves of enemies and solve
environmental puzzles. These portions of the game had the most
potential to suck, but I was shocked to find myself enjoying them. High
Impact uses these levels just sparingly enough and implements smart
enough puzzle designs that they’re more a breath of fresh air than a
frustrating annoyance, even if Dark Daxter is a dumb idea.
most surprising aspect of The Lost Frontier is how much customization
High Impact has crammed into the game. You purchase new modifications
and upgrades for your hangar full of ships with scrap metal earned
during dogfights. You buy new Eco powers from four separate upgrade
chains. You gain gun mods and better armor through chests scattered
around the world. Add in tons of sidequests that can be completed or
ignored at your leisure, and this seven-hour journey has a lot of extra
As you might expect from a new developer’s take on a
series with such history, The Lost Frontier doesn’t feel essential. If
you miss this game, you’re not going to be missing any major plot
movements or character development in the Jak universe (and don’t even
get me started on the snoozer of a bad guy). But if you’ve been
jonesing for the gameplay that made you fall in love with the series in
the first place, The Lost Frontier more or less delivers.