When I was shown JAK AND DAXTER at E3 last May, I was somewhat skeptical. A giant world with no loading at all and incredible graphics? Right, dream on Sony. But now that I've played through the entire game, I am impressed that Sony and Naughty Dog managed to pull it off.
JAK AND DAXTER takes a lot of things from other platformers. MARIO 64 and BANJO-KAZOOIE obviously served for a lot of the inspiration, and some of the gameplay elements have been pulled from CRASH BANDICOOT as well. You collect power cells throughout the game (stars from MARIO 64) and have a spinning move (CRASH games).
The main difference between JAK AND DAXTER and every other 3D platformer ever released is that it's one giant world. There is no "hub world" in this game, where everything is tied together. Instead it's all one big place and everything you do affects the rest of the world. It gives the world a living feel. There are no load times at all; the game is seamless and that adds much to the experience.
One thing that has always annoyed me in these type of games is collector-mania. Trying to find power cells still brought out some of that fury in me, but it was subdued as there were pretty good reasons behind why we were chasing each one down. It still didn't make it much easier for me to swallow the amount of these things I had to find. I still prefer CONKER'S BAD FUR DAY as the way to go with 3D platformers: more story, more level, less collecting.
However, the puzzles to get these power cells are pretty good. The areas themselves are all the usual fare, but you can't expect much more than the usual. The bosses are weak though - I would have enjoyed some really frustrating ones like in DEVIL MAY CRY. But this is a platformer and patterns are the name of the game.
To make up for it though, the camera is fantastic and the controls are dead-on. I think that the controls may be the best in a 3D game since the original, MARIO 64. All of the moves are simple to pull off and there are some cool ones that I haven't seen in a 3D platformer yet like the double-jump.
This world is giant: get really high up in the air and you can see most of the videogame. That's an incredible feat, something I don't think I would have imagined feasible on the Playstation 2. All of the textures, lighting effects, water effects, and other special effects make this one of the most incredible looking games released. Even more impressive is the character animation. Naughty Dog got big animators from several movies and it helps give the game an attitude that it otherwise couldn't have had.
The music does its job in setting the mood and the sound effects are what you'd expect from a platform game. The voice acting is very well done and helps accentuate the already incredible animation.
I'm really impressed with JAK AND DAXTER; it's a good 3D-platformer. But it's still not as epic as some of Rare and Nintendo's games. It's great, but not spectacular. Definitely check it out, but don't come here looking for Sony's answer to Mario.
Platform: Playstation 2
ESBR Rating: Everyone
Developer: Naughty Dog
Publisher: Sony Computer Entertainment
Suggested Retail Price: $49.99
Fun Factor: A-
Reviewer's Wild Card: A