Not daring, but `Jak & Daxter' provides good fun

January 03, 2002|By Aaron Curtiss | Aaron Curtiss,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

Nothing about Jak & Daxter: The Precursor Legacy for Sony PlayStation 2 is all that innovative or surprising.

But so what?

It's still a heck of a lot of fun to clamber through such colorful and evocatively named locales as Misty Island, Geyser Rock and Boggy Swamp, in search of the sage who can return a critter back to human form.

In many ways, Jak & Daxter is the video game equivalent of a Hollywood blockbuster or dinner at Claim Jumper: nothing daring, just heaping portions of tried-and-true recipes.

In this case, the creators of Crash Bandicoot serve up a three-dimensional exploration-based buddy game in lush tropical environments and spice it up with wisenheimer jokes.

Jak and his pal, Daxter, are a pair of elves or pixies or something vaguely human. As they go exploring one day, Daxter falls into a pit of goo and is transformed into a meerkat or mongoose or something vaguely weasel-like.

And so players take control of Jak and guide him through deep mountain passes, along sandy beaches and across bubbling lava pits - all of which are rendered in bright colors and rich detail.

Even parts of the landscape with no apparent relation to the game can be explored.

Although primary control is of two-legged Jak, the four-legged Daxter plays an integral role. He comes in handy when Jak performs a spin attack.

The relationship between Jak and Daxter gives the game a certain amount of emotional depth. Yeah, yeah, it's still a video game and there are no weepy male-bonding moments.

Yet all but the most hard-hearted players will want to help Daxter regain his form. Despite a back story about long-lost elders, Precursors, leaving behind magic artifacts, the real emphasis is on getting Daxter back to normal.

Jak & Daxter falls squarely into the "been there, done that" category. But it never feels like anything but a good time.

Aaron Curtiss is a reporter for The Los Angeles Times, a Tribune Publishing newspaper.

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