Jak and Daxter: The Lost Frontier Updated Hands-On

Sony's venerable action-platforming duo are back and ready to take on the PSP.

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The Jak and Daxter series got its start as a fairly straightforward action platformer game that focused on a pair of mascots jumping all over a bright, shimmery island world. As the years went on, the series grew and added more variety to the gameplay with lots of weapons and lots of vehicles. Jak and Daxter: The Lost Frontier for the PSP is the latest game in the franchise, and though it doesn't quite mark a return to those simpler times, it does look like it should bridge the gap between early and late Jak games by giving hints at both its early style and the wackiness that ensued in later iterations.

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What's New: The last time we had a look at The Lost Frontier, we got to see a Jak level that was heavily focused on jumping puzzles, which felt like a nod to the series' roots. This time around, we saw something a bit different. The new level we checked out was one focused on Dark Daxter, which is the transformed version of Jak's wisecracking sidekick, Daxter, after he has been overtaken by dark eco. Dark Daxter is a more beastly version of his normal self, complete with mean spikes on his back and the ability to pull off moves such as the frenzy whirl (a Tasmanian devil-style cyclone) and a ground pound attack.

The game's Dark Daxter levels are very puzzle-oriented. In this one, we had to run around guiding a beam of energy by hitting various switches on the ground to deflect the beam and get it to blast through various locked doors. At other times, there were giant mounds of spiderwebs blocking the way; we had to set fire to them by doing a frenzy whirl into a big flame and then guide our way toward the web. It's a bit tough to guide yourself in this frenzied state, so making your way around the level is a bit like bouncing around a pinball table.

What's The Same: We also had the opportunity to see a flight combat level, something that was detailed in our last preview. Various points in the game let you take to the air in a jet plane customized to your own exacting standards. You can use scrap metal (the game's currency) to buy upgrades for your jet that include armor upgrades and performance enhancements, and you can also choose where you want to mount weapons, such as machine guns, lightning guns, and missile launchers.

The air combat is pretty fast and over-the-top. With a touch of the D pad, you can execute a quick 180-degree turn or an automatic barrel roll to shake off targeted missiles. In this level, we had to shoot down the repair drones flying around a special tower that were keeping us from entering a certain door. Shoot down the drones, shoot down the tower, and it's back onto land for another on-foot Jak level.

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What Impression The Game Made This Time: It looks like the team at High Impact Games is casting a wide net with the type of game they want to make. There's platforming, puzzle-solving, and dogfighting air combat, just to name a few examples. We'll wait to see how cohesively these different elements can come together into one overall experience when the game is released toward the end of this year.

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