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Jak and Daxter: The Precursor Legacy The PS2 is finally getting its fair share of platform games, and Jak & Daxter is a corker.
Following the adventures of the yellow-barnetted Jak and his wisecracking sidekick Daxter (newly transformed into a rodent, and not happy about it), it's a free-roaming 3-D adventure very much along the lines of the N64's Banjo Kazooie--only less irritating. The gameplay, while not breaking any new ground, is perfectly polished and diverse enough to keep the interest up throughout; the main body of the game involves running, jumping, and spinning around the world collecting orbs and power cells and bashing enemies, but there are also racing, fishing and sliding bits, and all are very well done. The game world is seamless and you can move between areas and missions pretty much at will; there are no loading times whatsoever--a lesson which the latest Crash Bandicoot would have done well to learn. What's more, the irritation of having to restart levels and collect everything again if you lose all your energy is mercifully absent here. The graphics are truly scrumptious and the sound lush--and, shock horror, the script's decent and the characterisation and voice acting not half bad.
It's not quite as amusing and cleverly thought out as Rare's aforementioned N64 stalwart--or their more recent Conker's Bad Fur Day--but it's pretty close. The downsides? It's maybe a bit too easy for seasoned gamers--though by no means a cinch--and the magnificent graphics have eaten up memory that might have been used to make the game longer; as trade-offs go, though, that's pretty reasonable. Bring on the sequel. --Rikki Price.