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Platform

PSP

 

Genre

Action

 

Publisher

SCEA
Developer

Ready at Dawn Studios

 

ESRB

E (Everyone)

 

Released

Q1 2006

 

 

- Excellent gameplay

- Superb graphics

- Great cutscenes

- Sound voice acting

 

 

- Bug battles aren’t terribly exciting

- Some people might miss the gun-blazing elements from the Jak series  

 

 

Review: Jak 3 (PS2)

Review: From Russia With Love (PSP)

Review: SOCOM Fireteam Bravo (PSP)

 

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Daxter

Score: 9.0 / 10

 

On the PS2, the Jak series has won the hearts of many fans. Jak II and 3 in particular had a very good chemistry, mixing in a lot of action with platforming. The first entry of the series Jak and Daxter was more focused on the platforming elements. Daxter (Jak’s sidekick) finally gets his deserved debut on the PSP, which leans more towards the roots of Jak and Daxter.

 

daxter          daxter

 

In the beginning of Jak II, Jak was captured by the Crimson Guards during the opening video and Daxter, being Jak’s best buddy and all, he shouted out to his friend during his ‘tactical retreat’ "Don't worry Jak, I'll get you out before you know it."

 

Unfortunately for Jak, Daxter’s “I’ll get you out before you know it!” stretched out into a two year rescue. Daxter is set between the first and second Jak game.

 

The game opens with Daxter shooting off his mouth at a bar spewing out some made up fantasy stories about kicking ass (as usual). After hearing enough of his mumble jumble, some customers leave the bar while one older man approaches Daxter with interest and offers him a job as a bug exterminator. These are not your ordinary bugs; these are Metal Heads we are talking about (enemies from the previous games). Daxter is reluctant at first, but ends up accepting the job offer.

 

When taking down Metal Head scum, Daxter has a special electric swatter which he can use to defeat the bugs. Combos can be used by repeatedly tapping the square button. Daxter’s bug spray can be used to temporary stun his opponents. This can be very useful, especially when fighting off bigger enemies that look like they would very much enjoy having Daxter as their next snack. Stunning your enemy is not the only use for the spray however; if you go up to a nearby flame and start shooting some bug spray towards it, you got yourself a temporary flame thrower. Daxter with a flame thrower might not sound very safe in his clumsy hands, but I assure you it can come in handy to quickly dispose of enemies or burning down obstacles 

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in your way.  Another use for the bug spray is to temporary hover in the air. Some parts of stages require the player to jump from point A to point B, but some jumps are too far for our favorite orange half weasel/otter, so he must coral the aid of his bug spray (while jumping) to shoot the spray downwards and hover across. Your bug spray is not infinite, but there is always enough lying around to keep you well equipped.

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Some parts of the game require Daxter to hop in a vehicle. Chase sequences demand responsive controls and the game really delivers. Some chase sequences can be quite challenging. Tight turns and good reflexes come in handy because the enemies like to drop an assortment of bombs while being chased. The vehicle sequences deliver a nice change of pace from just running around. In one mission, there are three queen bugs and you have try and drive in front of them to attack them with bug spray. They are quite fast, but eventually you should be able to figure out their pattern of movements which will give you the opportunity to take them down.

 

The enemy AI is quite responsive and there are a fair bit of enemies to take care of, but one thing I really noticed about this game is that it is easier than Jak II and 3. This can be a good thing to some, but might be a bit of a turnoff to others. I am not saying the game is “too easy” because it is still challenging at parts, it is just something worth mentioning to fans of the series. Of course, some enemies are more challenging than others. Some fly, some attack at rapid speeds and some are three times the size of Daxter, AKA Orange Lightning. Some of the boss fights are quite fun and challenging.

 

Within every level, Precursor Orbs can be found floating around. Some are hidden really well, but in the pause menu you can spot how many you missed on each level. This also applies for Metal Bug Gems (which every enemy drops when it’s defeated). This way you will know if you have obliterated a level or not. Hardcore gamers will probably focus harder on the game to get maximum points, while casual gamers will most likely not care as much. Collecting enough Precursor Orbs allows the player to unlock more dream sequences (more on that later).

 

daxter          daxter

 

The above mentioned dream sequences are Daxter’s heroic fantasies that he always bullcraps about in bars. Jumping on Daxter’s bed back at the exterminator’s shop allows the player to choose a dream (i.e. a mini-game). The first one available is a dream that greatly resembles the movie, The Matrix. Daxter descends from the sky dressed in clothing that looks just like Neo's (he even has the glasses). The mini-games are all about reflexes. Once an enemy steps in a certain highlighted box (there's a box for each face button on the PSP) the player must push that button and Daxter will perform a cool looking move. It was pretty easy at first, but the pace eventually starts to pick up creating more challenge for the player. Think of Dance Dance Revolution using the controller. The second dream sequence that I unlocked took place in the movie Braveheart where Daxter played the role of William and it plays just like the Matrix dream. The third one I unlocked was hilarious because Daxter looked like Gimli from The Lord of the Rings. He was fat and even had the beard going. When completing a dream sequence for the first time, Daxter will learn new moves or increase his health bar, which obviously helps during the tougher boss fights.

 

Aside from the dream sequences, there is a mini-game that involves bug combat. To acquire a bug, the player must find bug cages which are scattered around the city. Each bug has its own advantages/disadvantages -- working a lot like paper, scissors, rock. The bugs are also upgradeable with the aid of vials that are also scattered around Daxter’s big adventure. Bug combat can played against a human opponent or the computer. It’s more fun against a human opponent, but overall, it is not very compelling and I always find myself wanting to go back to the main game.

 

The game is top notch in the graphics department. It greatly resembles the PS2 games with beautifully animated characters models, lots of color and texture. Cutscenes are very well done with lots of life within each character’s movements. Daxter, of course, is one individual who cannot stay still so he’s always motoring all over the place during cutscenes and his facial expressions alone will guarantee to make you laugh.

 

Thanks to the graphics, the game really feels like an interactive cartoon, but what’s a cartoon without great voice acting? The voice actors in Daxter are topnotch. Daxter himself has a perfect fitting voice to go along with his obnoxious attitude and supporting characters also sound character appropriate. The dialogue was really well written and, as a whole, the game will appeal to people of all ages.

 

Fans of the Jak series will be right at home with Daxter. Going back to its origins is a nice reminder of where the series started and for anybody that owns a PSP, this is a must have game. It’s got everything; humor, excellent cutscenes, great graphics and strong gameplay. What more can you ask for?

 

- J'Tonello

(June 7, 2006)

 

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