December 18, 2001
Jak and Daxter: The Precursor Legacy - Review
Release Date Publisher Developer Players Rating Price
7/12/2001SonyNaughty Dog1G8+$99.95
Online Gameplay Difficulty Save Size Vibration 60Hz 50Hz Border

Click To Enlarge Image
Launching from a jump points.
I'm going to begin this review by saying that I absolutely love the Crash Bandicoot games on PSOne, despite the lack of evolvement in the series. Although the games are linear the gameplay is superb and the characters seem to have a life of their own. The recent Crash Bandicoot: The Wrath of Cortex on PS2 was actually developed by Travellers Tales in the UK which freed up Naughty Dog to develop something new. Jak and Daxter: The Precursor Legacy is the result and although it has a lot of similarities to the little orange guy, this game is so much better. It's a lot more open, has a lot more depth, and is so beautiful to look at you'll swear it's a Disney animated feature.

Click To Enlarge Image
Directing the mirrors in the forest.
The storyline for Jak & Daxter: The Precursor Legacy is as follows; While exploring some ancient ruins on a forbidden island off the coast, your best friend Daxter, is knocked into a vat of Dark Eco; a terrifying and deadly substance that could corrupt the world forever. This transforms him into a weasel-like rodent. You seek the advice of the village sage, Samos Hagai, who tells you that there may only be one person who holds the secrets to transforming Daxter back. Now, Jak and Daxter must set out on a quest in search of a wise old sage who has the power to restore Daxter to his former self. You are plunged into a world of new adventure, exploration and discovery.

Click To Enlarge Image
Hang on there Daxter...
If you've played any of the Crash Bandicoot games you will have a pretty good idea what this game is like. Controlling Jak (Daxter is not a controllable character) includes fairly common actions such as double jumping (by double tapping the jump button) to reach higher ledges then normal jumps, spin attacks to kill enemies or break open chests and boxes, and a jumping attack to kill the enemies from above. The main object of the game will see you collecting Precursor Orbs that can be traded for Power Cells which are required to power up mini-planes, rock moving canons etc. When you complete each of these tasks you will unlock a totally new area to explore. The game, however, doesn't force you to collect every power cell in the levels to continue, only a certain number. For instance, powering up the A-GraV Zoomer (a vehicle which is a cross between hover craft, jet ski, and valkyrie motorcycle) requires 25 power cells, in levels that actually provide closer to 35 power cells.

As well as standard 3D platform style levels Jak & Daxter includes several "mini-levels" such as fishing in a river, shooting swamp rats and chasing down animals with the A-GraV Zoomer. It breaks up the platforming superbly and always gives you a sense of something fresh just around the corner. During the game you will meet many non-playable characters who will give you tasks to complete to receive power cells. These characters will often allow you to trade the collected Orbs for Power Cells. Some of these characters are hilarious especially the Mayor and the Strong Man who had been defeated by one of the bosses.

Click To Enlarge Image
The acquisition of a power cell.
Perhaps the most important aspect of this game is that it's fun. From the moment Daxter appears on screen scratching his butt and the Naughty Dog logo appears you know this game is going to be totally enjoyable. Also impressive is the way in which Naughty Dog have created a fully open world that is all connected together. This game isn't like previous Mario or Crash games where you enter a room with portals to different levels. If you want to get from one area to another in this game you have to walk there (or use one of the few transporters). Most impressively, the developers have totally removed all the load times through the game. From the moment you begin, to the moment you end you will not see a single loading point. Impressive.

Click To Enlarge Image
Check out the impressive fireball.
If you're looking for problems with this game then you'll be pretty hard pressed to find anything. Perhaps the biggest disappointment is the lack of Boss encounters. The whole game only has a couple of bosses who, after looking at their patterns, are pretty simple to dispose of. Another feature which is lacking, although it's not that necessary, is a map of the game world. On occasion you'll have to think about how to get to other areas/levels in the game.

As with everything else in this game the graphics are stunning. The game world is varied and colourful while the animation on the characters could easily rival a Disney feature movie. Jak and Daxter are made up of about 4,000 polygons (compared to about 500 for Crash) and have a wide range of moves and facial expressions. Just check out Daxter during the Power Cell acquisition celebrations. Special effects such as fire, lava, waterfalls, fog and the Orbs themselves are stunningly beautiful and are possibly the best yet seen in a home video game.

Click To Enlarge Image
Using the canon to move the boulder.
The real-time cut scenes are stunning, with all the characters taking an active part even when not speaking. Just have a look at what Daxter is doing to see what I mean. Texture detail in the game world including the characters, buildings, cliff faces, enemies and trees are second to none and add so much life to the game. While playing Jak & Daxter you will also notice the time of day changing seamlessly, as well as the weather in the game world. A storm will brew in the background and then a short while later it will begin to rain as the thunder gets louder. Impressively, Naughty Dog has even seen fit to put rain drops on the camera lens for added effect.

Perhaps the only disappointment with the graphics, and this flows into the gameplay a little, are the camera angles which aren't quite up to the standards set by some other games of late. You will have to use the right analogue stick on quite a few occasions to have a look at which platform to head for next, unless you want to take a leap of faith.

Click To Enlarge Image
The hilarious defeated strong man.
The entire game is rounded off with a wonderful soundtrack which blends perfectly with the cartoon based world. The tunes are lively and change according to the action on screen. Sound effects are wonderful to listen to and despite the fact you pick up orbs every few seconds in some areas the lovely ringing sound never becomes annoying. Best of all the speech is impressive enough to feature in a film. Naughty Dog have used some impressive, and varied voice talent for the game which rounds everything off perfectly. Oh, the script writer for Daxter should be poached by Disney to add a little more life to some of their movies. Hilarious.

To say that this game is exceptional is not doing the game justice. It's brilliant, entertaining, and stunning. Naughty Dog has truly mastered the Playstation 2's power to create what is arguably the best looking game ever. The characters and levels are richly detailed but it's the little touches such as the raindrops on the camera lens, the humorous animation on Daxter, the varied characters and superb level design that make this game all the more impressive. The thrill of playing this game can't be described, but one thing is certain. If you own a Playstation 2 then you are doing yourself a big injustice if you don't buy this game. It's phenomenal.

GRAPHICSGraphics have more style and charisma then a feature Disney movie.
SOUNDSimply beautiful music, solid effects, the best game speech ever.
GAMEPLAYIt's Crash Bandicoot on steroids, a very fun free roaming game.
VALUEAbout 15 hours to complete, much longer to get 100% completion.
OVERALLA simply stunning game that should be in every PS2 collection.

Talk about Jak & Daxter: The Precursor Legacy in this forum topic now.