This lovely came bundled with my PSP slim, so I figured I had to give it a go. And actually, I was pleasantly surprised with what I found inside.
I’ve never been a Jak and Daxter fan. Hell, if you ask me the plot…I’ll tell ya it has something to do with precursor orb collecting, and I figure that is way off. That being said, I know that Jak and Daxter are a pair. A dynamic duo. A terrible twosome. That being said, sidekick spin-offs usually are about as much fun as Spring Cleaning (Luigi’s Mansion anyone?). Daxter is no different than any of these as far as the plot is concerned; Jak is abducted by the bad guys and Daxter’s mission is to get him back. Yeah, there’s no Emmy quality writing in this plot, but as my expectations were already low, I wasn’t too disappointed. But my experience with this game wasn’t for plot, it was for some next-gen handheld platforming, and here it actually delivered beyond some of my expectations.
Daxter is like any platformer, you can run, jump and you take care of baddies with a rudimentary melee weapon. In this case, you’re exploring a small section of a metropolis (again, story so lackluster I cannot remember the town) working for an independently own bug extermination business (Furry thing’s gotta make a living somehow). So as you jump and platform your way through construction sites, boats, hotels and bars, your beating up buggy baddies with your handy dandy electro-flyswatter doohickey and your combination bugspray/flamethrower/shockwave gun that can double as a jetpack. For the better part of the game, the platforming remains mostly fresh, and beating up bugs can be just as fun as whacking a goomba. However, the whole experience began to get a bit repetitive as the game drags on a little by making you revisit each area for a new stage. The game does mix it up by including a couple of vehicle levels, one being a rickety crop duster and the other a souped up hovercar with attached turret. Still, you greet the end of the game with open arms as it persists just a little longer than it should.
SO, if I have all of these complaints about lack of story and repetitive gameplay, what was it then that made me give this game more credit than it seemingly deserves? Well, just look at it. No really, the graphical display of the game is something that really wowed me as I went through. While it’s not in HD, the quality of the graphics were so high caliber for any handheld I’ve ever experienced that I found myself impressed with what the PSP could really do. The title screen itself is impressive when they show Daxter in such detail that you can pick out each individual hair and watch it move independently of the other ones. Then, particle effects and graphics during gameplay were only slightly below that. This game has shown me the true power of the PSP, and it has done so with vibrant and colorful levels and smooth sexy cutscenes. My one gripe, the cutscenes are such nice quality that they require loading, but they don’t warn you of this fact. This causes the game to “Freeze up.” So as you mash on the x button in desperation to make it work, when it begins running again, you realize that you’ve just skipped a cut-scene to show you your new weapon. It kinda stings a little, but I quickly get over it as I become re-immersed in the beauty of my surroundings.
In summation, this game is just fine for what it is, if not a little longer than it should be. Gameplay is fairly standard for a platformer, and a free 360 degree rotation of the camera ensures you know where you’re going. The plot is…well barely existent, but if you come in expecting coal, you’ll leave with cubic zirconium. Where this game will get you is in the environment it drops you into. If you see this game as nothing more than a sophisticated demo, at least give it a rent or pick it up for $10 used somewhere so you can give it a play. It’s worth at least an hour of your time…heck maybe even three.
Art Direction: This is the shining aspect of the game. The graphics are pretty. Real Pretty. Definately a showcase of the processing power of the PSP. Good thing for them to bundle with it.
Sound Design: On the bright side, the game is FULLY voice acted. That is nice, but I also feel like it should be a prerequisite of the game. At the end it is nice to hear the baddies mutter a few things, but overall the sound meets the current standards I come to expect from games.
Gameplay: Again, it meets the standards of the industry. The character is easy enough to control, and the controls are intuitive. The jetpack is a neat addition, but can give you delusions of grandeur which make your crash to reality all the more saddening. The only real complaint…that it wasn’t so good that I never became bored with it.
The WOW Factor: Graphically, I am very much impressed with this game. Otherwise? It’s somewhat shallow. The ooos and aaahs are still inside of me, but will I be revisiting it any time soon for the purpose of stellar gameplay? Not really. Not to mention a lackluster multiplayer (so lackluster I haven’t even mentioned it till now).
OVERALL: 3 STARS
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