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Jak and Daxter: The Lost Frontier

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Jak and Daxter: The Lost Frontier is the sixth installment in the Jak and Daxter series, developed by High Impact Games and published by Sony Interactive Entertainment. It was released in November 2009 for the PlayStation Portable and PlayStation 2. It is the first and only title featuring both Jak and Daxter as playable characters not developed by Naughty Dog. The Lost Frontier is the most critically panned title in the series, with a 74 average on Metacritic,[1] with Sam Thompson of Naughty Dog retroactively saying they "would have done things differently" and that he is "not happy with [it] being Jak's swan song."

The game follows Jak, Daxter and Keira Hagai during a period when the world's eco supply is running low. In order to search for the cause, they travel to what is known as the Brink, the edge of the world which the Precursors did not finish when building it. The three run into a group known as the Sky Pirates which appear to be fighting to take the eco all for themselves, and the people of Brink-city known as Aeropa, as they search to fix the supply of eco.

Gameplay in The Lost Frontier is a return to the format seen in titles such as Jak II and Jak 3. It features the series' traditional mix of platforming and brawler elements into its action adventure format, with the Gunstaff containing many of Jak's weapons (similar to the Morph Gun in previous games). As the eco of the world is unstable, Jak can no longer transform into his Dark Jak form at will, though Daxter is occasionally able to take on a more powerful Dark Daxter form. In addition to weapons, Jak is able to use various eco powers to traverse areas and solve puzzles. A core element of the game is flight, new to the series, in which the duo can pilot many customisable and upgradeable planes. New to the series, The Lost Frontier features currencies, in the form of dark eco and scrap to unlock eco skills and upgrade plane mods and weapons respectively.

GameplayEdit

OverviewEdit

The Lost Frontier gameplay

Jak in combat with a voltaic eel .

The Lost Frontier is a third person three-dimensional platformer, in which the player controls Jak, an athletically-built human. Jak is capable of platforming, brawling with a moveset potentially enhanced by eco skills, combat with his Gunstaff, and channelling eco powers to traverse the environment (though he is not capable of using his Dark or Light form). Throughout much of the game, Jak also pilots planes, which can be customized with with weapons and modifications, purchasable with scrap, and are a major gameplay element, featuring in several missions. Occasionally, the player may control Daxter in his Dark Daxter form, who has access to powerful moves but lacks Daxter's agility.

Unlike many previous entries, The Lost Frontier is not an open world. Several locations have areas in which the player can fly planes or land to move around, but they can only fly to completely new locations by flying with the Phantom Blade. The Phantom Blade serves as the hub for the player, from which they can purchase upgrades to planes with scrap, as well as upgrades to eco powers and new eco skills with dark eco.

Missions are completed in a set progression. Scrap required to upgrade planes can be found by destroying other planes, completing side missions or by Daxterjacking during flight. Dark eco can be acquired by defeating enemies on land. Precursor orbs used to purchase secrets are common, and can be acquired throughout the world.

CombatEdit

The Lost Frontier retains the core moveset elements, such as the gliding punch and round spin kick. Jak is not capable of rolling, rolljump, ducking, and high jumping. He is also unable to transform into Light Jak and Dark Jak, because of the eco shortage. Jak has the ability to collect armor from blue treasure chests, giving him additional hit points similarly to Jak 3. Hit points do not stack as they do in 3, as when armor is switched out, hit points are adjusted accordingly.

Eco amplifier power in action

Jak using the eco amplifier eco power.

Jak gains the ability to use eco powers relying on the four primary types of eco: Red eco, which is used for the eco amplifier power to create a floating orb which explodes when shot; Green eco, which is used for the eco construct power to create crystalline structures to damage enemies and create platforms to reach distant areas, as well as the eco shield power which can be used to create an impenetrable shield, which allows walking over pools of dark eco; Yellow eco, which is used for the eco rocket jump power to launch oneself into the air, to great heights when using it above a yellow eco vent or cloud of gas; And lastly blue eco, which is used for the eco reflexes power to slow down time and eco teleport to switch places with specific Precursor totems and reach faraway places, as well as bypassing security. Eco powers are only recieved from Precursor idols and have a limit for their use. Each power drains eco and requires a minimum amount before it can be used, though eco does not have to be collected aand instead rechraged automatically.

Blaster gunstaff render

The Blaster Gunstaff mod.

The Gunstaff is fired with Triangle (for Playstation Portable) or L1 (for Playstation 2), and also doubles as a melee weapon. The Gunstaff can receive mods simiarly to the Morph Gun, collected throughout the game. The Blaster, Scatter Gun, and Vulcan Fury reappear as the yellow eco, red eco, and blue eco weapons, respectively, though instead of the Peace Maker, a dark eco weapon, the gunstaff went on to attach the Lobber, a green eco weapon. Also unlike the Morph Gun, the gunstaff could not be put away, and upon acquiring a gun mod, could not select its normal, unmodified form.

Mods could be found from brown treasure chests or earned through side missions. The Blaster mod fires a single, long-range blast of yellow eco and has a medium rate of fire. The Scatter Gun mod fired a short, wide cone range with a higher damage output. The Vulcan Fury mod fires similar to a minigun with a rapid rate of fire and a medium-long range. The Lobber mod fires green eco grenades and is effectively a green eco version of the Plasmite RPG, a red mod weapon from Jak 3. Gunstaff upgrades found through side missions are also found in brown treasure chests or through side missions. Each Gunstaff weapon has three damage upgrades, two rate of fire upgrades, one ammo capacity upgrade, and one upgrade unique to each weapon. Some upgrades can only be found in Hero Mode, requiring two playthroughs to collect them all.

Jak also has the ability to gain improvements and standalone abilites related to his eco powers by unlocking them with dark eco. He can go to Keira, who practices her sage abilities to help Jak receive the skills selected from a menu. Skills can be selected from four categories: red eco, yellow eco, blue eco, and green eco. Each skill in a given category is unlocked sequentially, meaning you must purchase them in order of appearance, each increasing in cost as you progress (though you can select from any of the categories as you please). Once unlocked, the skills are free to use and expend eco from neither the dark eco meter nor the eco power meter. Skills can give Jak the ability to, for example, improve the strength of melee attacks or add additional points to his health meter.

PlanesEdit

Abandoned research rig exterior 2

Jak piloting the Interceptor.

In The Lost Frontier traveling between different areas, and moving around in areas itself, is largely reliant on the use of planes and airships. Barring Aeropa, each area has a large airspace filled with various structures and formations, at times occupied by either allied or enemy ships and are often the site for major battles involving normal planes, as well as large airships such as the ACS Behemoth and the Phantom Blade. Jak eventually gains access to the latter, allowing to use it to travel to other areas on his own, as well as store planes he acquires throughout the story.

Each plane focuses on a different playstyle, with emphasis being laid out on the number of weapon and mod slots each plane has, as well as base performance. Per example, the Bomber is slow and cumbersome, but has a lot of armor and three default ground attack rocket slots equipped. The Sky Raider is an excellent all-rounder with a lot of mod slots, whereas the Interceptor focuses primarily on high speed with low armor.

Aerial combat primarily exists between either dogfights with planes, or taking out specific structures on an enemy airship or building. In terms of weapons, planes have access to two different sets, each with slots ranging from just 1 to at most 5, each extra slot thus also adds an extra weapon for extra damage output. In combat, players will attack with either the primary or secondary weapons using L1 and L1 respectively, with firing at the same time also being possible. Weapons drain ammo on use, though ammo automatically regenerates over time. Weapons vary from bullet spray guns, missile launchers, flak cannons to more specialized weapons. Mods can be used to enhance the plane's armor, speed, turning rate, as well as other configurations such as target locking, damage output, and number of repair packages.

Plane customization menu

The plane customization menu.

New weapons and mods are acquired through either minigames and sidemissions, to complement this is Daxterjacking a small minigame focused around shooting Daxter at an enemy ship to loot it for weapons, mods and scrap. They can also be bought from a shop inside the Phantom Blade hangar, said shop is also the location for upgrading already acquired plane weapons and mods as well as changing a plane's load-out.

Minigames and side missionsEdit

Daxterjacking in progress

Daxter in the process of Daxterjacking.

Like previous installments of Jak and Daxter, The Lost Frontier had a series of playable minigames and side missions. Unlike previous games however, minigames nor side missions were not always repeatedly playable, and instead would be inevitably locked out after completing certain story events. The game brings a return of orb search-mission types, as well as a gun course-like area called the Danger Course. With the absence of city zoomers and buggies, and instead focusing on planes and airships, Jak could engage in plane races and combat-focused side missions.

Also available are bar brawls in Barter's bar, which focus purely on melee fights with Jak's gunstaff. Lastly, major areas also have dark eco crystal hunt tasks, which require Jak to explore the area and destroy eco crystals and return the energy inside to a Precursor statue. All of the aforementioned minigames and side missions will reward the player with Precursor orbs, plane weapons, mods, gunstaff mods and scrap, depending on the success of your actions.

SynopsisEdit

SettingEdit

Aeropa screen 1

Jak standing in the city of Aeropa.

The Lost Frontier takes place an unspecified amount of time after Jak 3,[2][a] after a global eco shortage has afflicted the planet, causing dangerous storms. Jak, Daxter, and Keira Hagai, the latter of whom has begun a journey to become an eco sage, thus set out on a journey to the other side of the world to try to help fix the problem. Once there they discover the Brink, the last part of the planet built by the Precursors, much of which is unfinished, further contributing to the ecological instability.

They also meet the Sky Pirates, a band of eco robbers that hunt the frontier for helpless travelers. They briefly ally themselves with the people of Aeropa, a small city on the Brink, who are amid a war with the pirates during their supposed quest to repair the eco shortage. The pirate leader, Phoenix, at some point convinces Jak and Keira to turn against the Aeropan leaders Skyheed and Ruskin, who are later revealed to have ulterior motives in their quest for the eco core, a supposed new source of eco.

PlotEdit

Prologue from TLF

Jak and Phoenix standing on the Hellcat.

Amidst an eco storm, Sky Pirates ambush the Hellcat, forcing Jak to fend off the attackers who rappel onto their ship via a large pirate ship, the Phantom Blade. Keira manages to cause one pirate to fall from the ship, while Jak has engaged into a fistfight with the other, known as Captain Phoenix. Jak loses and tries to turn into Dark Jak, though fails to do so due to the eco instability, subsequently dealing him great pain. Phoenix witnesses Jak's attempt to transform, stating there are more people like Jak and prepares to shoot to kill him. At this point Daxter manages to run Phoenix off by shooting at him with the Hellcat's tailgun, but also shoots their own ship, causing a fuel leak, forcing Keira to crash land on to Brink Island.

Sent on a search for fuel while Keira patches up the ship, Jak and Daxter manage to find a green eco crystal, containing the power to convert dark eco into green eco to allow for an alternate source for fuel. The group flies off to defend the ACS Behemoth from the attacking Sky Pirates. When they land on the Behemoth, they meet the sitting ruler of Aeropa, Duke Skyheed, and are invited to the city. When they travel to Aeropa, Duke Skyheed and Chancellor Ruskin give Jak the eco seeker in an attempt to power it. The eco seeker is rumored to show the way to (what is alluded as) one of the world’s major eco sources. Jak is unable to power it, however, so Keira asks if she can study the device herself. The Chancellor then agrees to let her study it for a week, but only if Jak passes the Danger Course.

Rip and Run

Phoenix steals the Eco seeker.

After completing the Danger Course and on route to Skyheed, Daxter falls into a sewer filled with dark eco causing him to transform into Dark Daxter. He later reappears on the streets and reunites with Jak. The Chancellor rewards Jak with the eco seeker. Unfortunately, Captain Phoenix later attacks and steals the eco seeker. Keira chases after him, but is taken as a hostage. Jak and Daxter chase him into a trap and are shot down onto another island. While exploring the island, the duo meet a castaway. The Castaway notices that Jak has been touched by dark eco because he is a dark eco sage (which is revealed later). The Castaway explains that he invented the robots to spread across the island as a workforce, but they have turned against him. Jak asks if he is able to repair the Hellcat. The Castaway requires a velonium power pod from his Uber-Bot 888 to repair it, so Jak and Daxter defeat the robot and acquire the power pod. The Castaway fixes the Hellcat, leaving Jak and Daxter to depart to rescue Keira and the eco seeker.

Confrontation

Jak and Phoenix shake on a truce.

They travel to the Phantom Blade to rescue Keira and the eco seeker. When the Phantom Blade’s engine and defenses are inevitably destroyed, Jak and Daxter land in the hangar to confront Phoenix. Jak and Phoenix get into an argument, causing them to accidentally drop the eco seeker out of a window, Keira steps in, forcing them to make a truce and retrieve the eco seeker, during which the Castaway sneaks onto the Hellcat and boards the Blade. Phoenix requests Jak and Daxter to visit Far Drop to obtain supplies for their oncoming voyage. Jak meets Barter, who requests Jak to defeat mutant apes for supplies. Jak agrees and completes the task, though afterward Barter asks to "liven up" the bar for scrap.

Abandoned research rig interior 4

The chair at the rig.

Keira explains that the eco seeker requires light eco in order to operate. Phoenix recalls its presence at the abandoned research rig. When Jak is exploring the rig, he comes across a testing table (akin to the one he was experimented on in Jak II by Baron Praxis.) In a fit of frustration, Jak yells that whoever did these experiments must be destroyed. The trio reach the rig's control room to attempt obtaining its light eco. As Keira attempts to hack the terminal, Hyper Mutants attack. Jak holds the mutants and afterwards powers on the terminal, revealing the eco. The trio return to the Phantom Blade, where Keira tells Jak that the eco seeker is missing two parts. In order to retrieve the missing parts, the duo must return to Far Drop and search the Old Aeropan barracks.

Secrets Revealed 1

The group confronts the castaway.

When they find one of the missing parts at the barracks, the Castaway regains his memories. He discloses that he is a dark eco sage and built the facility for the Aeropans. Phoenix then explains that he was a commander for the Aeropan Air Forces and put in charge of a secret weapons program to make a new class of warriors, similar to the Dark Warrior Program. He refused, and tried to stop the program, but Skyheed would not allow the it to be canceled. Phoenix kidnapped the program’s chief scientist (the Castaway) and marooned him on Brink Island to hide his work from the Aeropans. Phoenix also reveals that Skyheed has infected the Aeropan population with dark eco. Phoenix was declared an outlaw afterwards and swore to destroy Skyheed. After Jak transforms, Phoenix attempts to shoot Jak, but Keira intervenes. She tells Phoenix that if she cares at all about him then he will spare Jak, because she needs him more than anything in the world. Jak and Phoenix then agree to put the Aeropans out of business, after enticement from the Castaway.

The duo return to Far Drop where Barter directs them to the Saucy Pirate to find their second piece, the coordinate sphere, for the eco seeker. She agrees to part with it only by a duel, Daxter being Jak's wager against the sphere. He bests her, receiving the part and returning it back to Keira on the Phantom Blade. The location of the third sphere is located, leading the group to Sector Zero. Keira initially has trouble tracking the signal eventually explaining it to be at the bottom of a vortex. Jak travels through the vortex to find the sphere to return to an attack by the ACS Behemoth. Jak holds off the attack and returns to the Blade.

Betrayed! 2

The eco core being powered on.

Betrayed! 1

Klout's betrayal.

Keira fixes the eco seeker, causing it to point to the abandoned research rig. Phoenix states that the facility was built over strange formations, revealed later to be a Precursor facility. They return to the rig and encounter the eco core in a dormant state. Keira attempts to fix it, but finds that Skyheed has followed Jak and Daxter to the core. Klout is revealed to have betrayed Phoenix by supplying information to the Aeropans. Skyheed commands Klout to kill the group, but Keira kills him using a wave of eco from the eco core. Jak, Daxter, Keira, and Phoenix escape from the facility leaving Skyheed behind.

A message is transmitted to the Phantom Blade stating that the Aeropans have laid siege to Far Drop. Jak and Daxter manage to stop the attack, causing the Aeropans to retreat. Another message is transmitted anonymously, revealing a warp gate in the Aeropan barracks. Jak, Daxter, and Keira travel through the warp gate back to the city of Aeropa. Jak makes his way to the palace of Aeropa to finally defeat Skyheed. Jak meets Skyheed and Chancellor Ruskin once again, and Ruskin reveals that he has betrayed Skyheed by sending secret messages to Phoenix and his crew in an effort to stop Skyheed’s plans. He threatens to kill Skyheed if he does not reverse the damage he has done. Skyheed, transformed into a dark eco monster, blasts Ruskin off the palace to fall to his death. Jak attempts to defeat Skyheed before taking off on an airship, causing Jak to follow him to an obstacle course trap. Skyheed then retreats to the Behemoth to take the power from the eco core.

Captain Phoenix's Last Ride

The Phantom Blade's final moments, just before intercepting the dark eco stream.

Jak finally confronts the ACS Behemoth to attempt to stop Skyheed from stealing power from the eco core. Jak destroys the eco crystal on the Behemoth, which stops the Behemoth from sapping power from the eco core. Phoenix flies the Phantom Blade in between the Behemoth and eco core to prevent the Behemoth from stealing any more power, destroying the Phantom Blade and killing Phoenix as a result. Keira then installs a light eco beam onto the Hellcat to finish off the Behemoth.

Epilogue (The Lost Frontier) 1

The eco core back in balance.

After Jak finishes off the Behemoth (with Duke Skyheed inside), the eco returns to the core. Keira re-activates the eco core, channeling eco back to the vents around the world, ending the shortage of eco. Keira also channels eco for the first time, and informs Jak that the symbols at the core reveal that there are other energy lines. Keira asks the Castaway for his true name, revealed to be "Tym". Jak and Keira have their kiss interrupted by Daxter, asking if they plan to do something without telling him. Jak then casts a vote for who wants to go on another adventure. Keira ends the vote with two to one and kisses Jak. An agitated Daxter reluctantly agrees to join them for another adventure. Credits roll.

DevelopmentEdit

After completing Jak 3, Naughty Dog developed Jak X: Combat Racing in order to give breathing room for the developers during the transition to the next generation of consoles, and the departure of founders Jason Rubin and Andy Gavin.[3] During this time, the team had many ideas for a new PlayStation Portable Jak and Daxter title, in which they took many concepts from Jak X.[4]

The team continued to develop their PlayStation Portable title, which would become The Lost Frontier, simultaneously with their PlayStation 3 title, which would become Uncharted: Drake's Fortune.[4] While the team were able to develop multiple cutscenes and flesh out the game within three months, they were unable to continue to develop alongside Uncharted, due to the frustration of developing for the new hardware and resignations from many employees.[4] As such, the project was abandoned until later handed off to High Impact Games.

High Impact Games announced development of The Lost Frontier on the PlayStation Blog on April 1st, 2009.[5] It was then released November 3rd of that year in North America, and November 20th worldwide.

ReceptionEdit

Aggregator Score
GameRankings 72.84% (based on 35 reviews)[6]
Metacritic 71/100 (based on 47 reviews)[7]
Game Informer 7.75/10[8]
GameSpot[9] 7.5/10
IGN 7.4/10[10]

While The Lost Frontier received generally positive review scores, it received the lowest review scores on average in the series. Critics reacted positively to the platforming segments, the puzzles and the customization of both Jak and the ships. Most of the negative reception was directed towards the camera controls, and the Dark Daxter segments, which were considered unnecessary. GameSpot praised the "Solid gameplay, challenging platform puzzles [and] wacky humour", concluding that despite the "disappointing Dark Daxter levels and the sometimes-troublesome camera", it was a "good addition to Sony's much loved series".[9] IGN argued that the camera made the game "frustrating when it didn't need to be", and that while "the platforming was fun, the puzzles using powers were cool, and the upgrading of ships and Jak provided some depth", it was let down by the "empty environments, camera issues, and repetitive nature of some of the battles".[10] Game Informer concluded that the game "doesn't feel essential", but for fans of the series wanting more it "more or less delivers".[8]

In retrospect, The Lost Frontier has received criticism by Naughty Dog. They claimed that despite holding no ill will towards the developers at High Impact Games, they were "not happy with it being Jak's swan song", and "could have done a lot better".[4]

GalleryEdit

NotesEdit

Footnotes
  1. It is assumed to take place chronologically after Jak X: Combat Racing as well, though this is never specified.
Citations
  1. Jak and Daxter: The Lost Frontier for PSP Reviews. Metacritic. Accessed April 11, 2016.
  2. The Lost Frontier, game manual (NTSC-U/C) (PS2), p. 1
  3. Rising to Greatness: The History of Naughty Dog, page 12. IGN. Accessed October 3, 2015.
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 Rising to Greatness: The History of Naughty Dog, page 13. IGN. Accessed October 3, 2015.
  5. Jak & Daxter Are BACK!. PlayStation Blog. Accessed August 16, 2016.
  6. Jak and Daxter: The Lost Frontier GameRankings. GameRankings. Accessed August 19, 2016.
  7. Jak and Daxter: The Lost Frontier Metacritic. Metacritic. Accessed August 19, 2016.
  8. 8.0 8.1 Jak and Daxter: The Lost Frontier Game Informer. Game Informer. Accessed August 19, 2016.
  9. 9.0 9.1 Jak and Daxter: The Lost Frontier GameSpot. GameSpot. Accessed August 19, 2016.
  10. 10.0 10.1 Jak and Daxter: The Lost Frontier IGN. IGN. Accessed August 19, 2016.
Jak and Daxter: The Lost Frontier

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