It's The End of the World As They Know It

We spend a little more hands-on time with Jak & Daxter: The Lost Frontier. Care to see what we've gleaned?
Author: Sam Bishop
Published: August 30, 2009
It's apparently demo week here at TotalPlayStation. No less than three snippet-sized games have rolled through courtesy of Sony and LucasArts -- something of a consolation prize for us not being able to see and play everything during the GamesCom event in Germany last week. Not that we're complaining, of course; if there's anything we like, it's a bite-sized snippet of game we can bang out a quick preview on to get you, our dear readers, up to speed.

Unfortunately, our peek at Jak & Daxter: The Lost Frontier was quite a bit shorter than we would have liked. The UMD came packed with three levels and a story video (plus a trailer that would roll if we let the demo sit long enough to go into attract mode), but two of the levels were exactly as we'd played back at E3 a couple months ago. We took a spin through the same dogfighting and exploration bits and couldn't see much (if any) difference between now and then, though it has been a while. Worryingly, the same issues with the camera and the controls (firing a gun in the same direction as you're running makes for some really sloppy shooting even if your gun can morph into a wider-angle shotgun-like Shockwave Concussor) were still present leading to more than a few cheap deaths as we fell into the very lava pits we were trying to escape from.

Still, the game's early, so we're keeping our fingers crossed.

The third level, however, was new. "Aeropa Sewers" let us take control of a properly Hulked-out Dark Daxter, powers and all. Yep, it would appear the little Ottsel got a bit o' the Dark Stuff in him (though we don't know how), trading his usual sarcastic comments and passive-aggressive nature for a good ol' Dark Eco beat down. We were able to unleash a Frenzy Spin (Dax turns into a tornado for a bit), Ground Pound (a little flip that does area effect damage) and Eco Bolt (balls, actually of dark eco are shot out) moves by pressing the Triangle, Circle and X Buttons, with respects. The Square Button let us grab enemies and throw them after aiming -- a move that came in handy when spiders would pour out of a hole and leave behind web threads that would allow us to cross a hole, since apparently Dax lost more than his ability to form complete sentences when he changed and can no longer jump.

Interestingly, it seemed Mr. Short, Broken, Hulk-Like Sentences could only bust through certain doors with his Frenzy Spin when he'd scooped up enough Dark Eco to go into Frenzy Mode. Luckily, crystals scattered all over the sewer tunnels held endless amounts, allowing him to tornado it up and start Frenzying rather quickly. Also littering the tunnels were smallish machines that would direct blades to spin that could be flipped with a Ground Pound to reverse their polarity, and thus the blades. We used this move to reverse the blades and get around a blown-out floor and to turn off laser turrets that were blocking the way as well as flipping energy fields' directions to move past.

It was a bit of a surprise seeing the normally spastic sidekick dishing out some hurt of his own, but it's definitely a welcome one. The story video we watched had Jak, Daxter and Keira (who is on a quest to learn more about Eco and become a Sage like her father) on a plane approaching The Brink, the edge of the world and one of the last places Eco might still be available as it's been slowly sucked out of the rest of the world. They had the displeasure of meeting up with Eco Pirates while in the middle of an Eco storm -- in particular their leader named Phoenix. After a bit of on-wing fisticuffs, Keira makes a hard turn, nearly throwing Jak off (and ditching a pirate about to climb into the cockpit, though it safely catches one of the grappling cables the pirates used to board Jak and company's craft. In an effort to save himself, Jak goes all dark and Phoenix pulls a gun on him after realizing Jak is "one of them." Daxter, in an effort to save his pal, fires off a few rounds, hitting the fuel tank and causing the trio to quickly lose fuels just as they fly over The Brink, a massive edge-of-the-world waterfall dropping into nothing. Keira manages to land the plane on an outcropping and... well, we don't really know what happens after that.

There's a good chance what we've played is a long way from where the game is now, likely provided in its rough state to have something for conventions like GamesCom and E3. We're keeping our fingers crossed that the odd bits of camera wonkiness, sloppy controls and difficulty spikes will all be smoothed out before the game ships at the end of next month. We should have a proper review version here soon, so once we've given it a full play through, we'll make sure you know the straight poop.