Daxter - game review

Date: 2006-04-21 12:21:00
The review was based on the PSP version.

For those of you who have had or are dealing with the PS2 console, you will surely know the excellent platformer (and its sequels) about the adventures of two friends: the young boy Jak and the talking weasel - Daxter. An excellent technical workshop, lots of gadgets to collect, an interesting world and a funny plot make the Jak and Daxter series, in the opinion of fans, the leader of its category on the Sony console to this day. It is therefore not surprising that the PSP, which "swallows" everything that is best from the PS2, has the cycle incarnate on its liquid crystal display.

Unlike the Yaks from PlayStation 2, in the pocket version the main character is not the aforementioned young man, but his mustelike friend. The action of the game takes place directly before the events of Jak II: Renegade . In the intro, you watch the damaged heroes' vehicle soar over the skies of Haven City, quickly crashing into a crash. Shortly after the forced landing, Jak is captured by the guards of Baron Praxis, and his little companion manages to escape. Those who played the second Jak on PS2 probably remember that two years later Daxter found and freed his friend from the hands of the torturers. But why did the rescue operation take him two years? What was he doing during this time? This is what the game Daxter tells about.

Znojny, two-year life in a strange world, our friend spent not only thinking about the way to free his companion from captivity. It was necessary to turn somewhere, to arrange it somehow, because even poor food and blueberry juice in a second-rate bar cost a fortune. Daxter, talking about his advantages over the chalice, caught the eye of fat Osmo, the owner of an agency dealing with all kinds of plagues and vermin. The weasel of the talker agreed to work for the fat man for food and stuffing. From now on, armed with disinfestation equipment, our hero traverses the corners of the city, completing new orders and collecting clues helpful in reaching his imprisoned friend.

You will probably spend the first moments with the game on getting to know the interface and mastering the basic movements of the hero. It doesn't take long to learn because everything is beautifully displayed on the screen and you don't have to take notes or rummage through the manuals. Already at the beginning, Daxter is equipped with a decent range of movements and behaviors: he runs, jumps, climbs, crawls, etc., and during the successive stages of the game, his physical fitness is further enriched. The gameplay is moderately difficult, but it has one significant facilitation: to complete the mission, you do not need to look into every corner of the available terrain. Of course, if you are extremists and it is a point of honor to make board perfectes, you will get a bit of a hassle, because you can't get everything straight away every time. You will return to some levels once you have acquired the appropriate skills and equipment.

Your duties, that is Dexter, are mainly about traversing the levels, exterminating any filth that comes under your barrel and collecting items. However, do not think that all missions fit in the diagram above. You also receive other orders, during which you reveal your versatile abilities: you jump on the roofs of speeding trains, dust infested crops with a scooter, chase large flying insects with a rocket, slide down inside the gutters of great canals, etc. Different tasks determine a different control technique, which makes the game fun. even more interesting. The few disadvantages of Daxter I would include the linearity of a significant part (fortunately not all) of the stages. They are characterized by one imposed path, from which you deviate only for a moment to the sides in order to search adjacent locations.

The places you are sent to are scattered all over Haven City and adjacent areas that you access via teleporters. The city looks almost the same as in Jaku II: Renegade (although Daxter was created by a completely different development team), it is only more deserted. At the beginning of the game, you only have access to a small section of it, covering a few houses and streets, but as the game progresses, more areas open up to you, including the memorable port district. In order not to strain Daxter's little legs too much, you move around the area with an anti-gravity scooter. Additionally, you have a small map at your disposal, located in the upper left corner of the display. The map is very useful, but it's a pity that only the location with the current mission is marked on it. Places that you have passed before, and to which you want to return (in order to explore to the end), you have to find "on the nose".

A multitude of items to collect - this is the essence of any good platformer. The Daxter authors did not disappoint you in this regard. The most common "pickets" are: orange orbs that look like Easter eggs and gems that shine with a yellow glow. You can collect a total of 1000 Orbs and it is worth doing it, because thanks to this you unlock various bonuses: extra movies, trailers (Extra mode) and Dexter's dreams. In turn, collecting a certain amount of gems is in many cases necessary to complete the mission, but here's a surprise - you won't find them lying loose anywhere. Their source is only the chitinous shell of the worms, so there is no way out - you have to bash, hack and chop. In addition, there is a whole range of items to collect (cages with worms, measuring tubes, glass flasks) necessary to play in the Bug Combat mode, about which later in the review. These gadgets are framed by a luminous border and are usually located in hard-to-reach places.

As a worm type exterminator, Daxter seems to have an entire insect race against him. The list of enemies is extremely long: purple fireflies, scorpions, spiders of various sizes, larvae, caterpillars, wasps, flying beetles, etc. from time to time you encounter a huge boss (giant fly, flying centipede, etc.) with which you fight long, tedious and multi-stage. More than once, despite your efforts, you will say goodbye to the world when your energy indicator rapidly drops to zero. Fortunately, the hero reincarnates as quickly as he dies, but the action is shifted back a few moments and you have to go through the episode earlier, sometimes painstakingly repeat the episode.

How can a little weasel stand up to hundreds of deadly insects? Maybe, but of course properly armed. Osmo and friends made sure that Daxter was equipped with the appropriate equipment. From the very beginning, the protagonist has a stun gun in his paws - not very effective, but not wearing out. After some time, he receives a bottle with a connected pitcher, which becomes his primary weapon. Interestingly, while the ammunition cylinder on the back remains the same, the tips for the pitcher can be different. What does it do? Well, different blasting effects depending on the tip used, e.g. green goo stuns enemies, fire burns everything that is alive and dead, and the blue fusion charge destroys enemies within a radius of several meters. In addition, when used properly, the pitcher allows you to take to the air for a few seconds. You replenish the fuel supply in the cylinder by collecting green energy balls, which are quite numerous in the labyrinths of corridors. In some levels, you use the cannon or the sides of an anti-gravity ship to kill bugs instead of your personal equipment.

Despite the large dose of dynamics, Daxter is not only a typical arcade game with jumping and fighting. Sometimes there are logical elements during which, apart from skillful fingers, you have to force your own brain lobes to work (to a small extent). These are not some ultra difficult cutscenes. The simplest puzzles consist in finding the right lever or button and activating them, more difficult - on starting the machine with the appropriate combination of buttons, protecting the chip controlling the lock in the door against viruses, etc. Despite the moderate degree of difficulty, it is good that such cutscenes appear enrich the gameplay.

Daxter's dreams are another brilliant diversion. The tired hero can count on rest in Osmo's house, where a comfortable bed awaits him. As soon as he puts his head against the pillow, he begins to dream about uncreated quarrels in which, of course, he plays the main role. Thanks to his vivid imagination, you play the roles worthy of an Oscar: weasel-Neo from the Matrix , weasel-Wallace from Braveheart , weasel-dwarf from The Lord of the Rings , weasel-Indiana Jones, etc. why you bring multitudes of enemies to dust. The reward for the effort are: lots of fun and increased hero skills (new moves and blows, more energy, etc.). There are six adventures in total and they are available depending on the number of orbs you collect .

Daxter's graphics are pure perfection, just look at the screenshots. Revelation! In front of you are perfectly constructed, richly textured and vividly colored locations: greenhouses, mines, musty cellars and undergrounds, exclusive hotels, ship decks, tall buildings, green, flowery valleys, villages flooded with autumn colors, etc. The landscape diversity is so great that it is impossible to list everything. A perfectly animated Daxter goes crazy on the screen, and when you leave him alone for a moment, he will start to crouch, scratch, stand on his head, impatiently, etc. Great-directed cutscenes look brilliant. In fact, the only scratch on the impeccable graphic suit is the not-so-perfect work of the cameras. There are areas where the problem is to adjust the appropriate camera position, and in some places it is not possible at all - you have to be content with the view imposed by the authors. Irritating, but live with it.

The sound is good, but not as great as graphically. The music disappointed me a bit - the sounds may be interesting, but there are not many of them. Sometimes the music plays in the background, only to remain silent for ages after a while and activate again only after the mission is over. The sound effects look much better: rich, filling the space, allowing you to forget about the lack of music. In the air you can hear the noise of machines, the crackle of electric tractions, the rattle of passing trains, the splashing of water, the chirping of birds, etc. If you add to this chatter and sounds generated by Daxter, plus dialogues that sound excellent in cut-scenes, you can be satisfied with the sound setting. By the way, I would like to add that the voice of the weasel was given by Max Casella (an actor known, for example, from the series The Sopranos), the same comedian who already successfully played Daxter in previous parts of the series.

Finally, it is worth saying a few words about the multiplayer mode. By connecting wirelessly ad hoc with a buddy you can fight in Bug Combat mode . The game takes place in the arena and consists in putting a gladiator to a duel - a huge, slimy worm, whose task is to defeat the rival insect. You can choose from as many insects as you can find in the game earlier (collected cage icons). You equip your ward with the appropriate offensive-defensive skills (rings) and resistances (stocks and gauges) and he is ready to fight. The skirmish takes place in a turn-based system - the wrestlers take turns attacking each other using the abilities you have previously assigned to them. The gameplay is fascinating, as long as you collected the right number of worms and boosters while going through the main game mode. Otherwise, get ready for severe blows. If there is no playable buddy next to you, a computer can replace him.

Time for a little summary. Just as the Jak and Daxter series rules on PS2, Daxter currently outclasses all competition on PSP. Stunning graphics, many different locations, lots of "gatherings", interesting bonuses and a huge amount of honey - these are the advantages of this title. Of course, there is no rose without thorns - you can attach to the linearity of some stages, the sometimes broken camera or a map that is not very clear, but these disadvantages do not take away the excellent impression that Daxter made on me. The game should be a model for all producers who want to do something attractive for a Sony pocket console. It is currently the best platformer and one of the best PlayStation Portable games in general. I would highly recommend.

Probably it applies to a few, but if you have a PS2 console and a game Jak X: Combat Racing on your PSP apart from Daxter, then connect both machines via the USB connector. Surprises await you.

Marek "Fulko de Lorche" Czajor

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